How to Run an HTML File in VS Code

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) comes across as a great alternative to larger, more complex code editors for those getting started with coding. For web devs, in particular, it offers many opportunities for writing and tweaking HTML sections, plus plenty of features that make development an exciting ride.

How to Run an HTML File in VS Code

But how exactly do you run an HTML file in VS Code if you’re new to the development world? Let’s answer this question and explore the functions VS Code has in store for HTML coders.

Running an HTML File in VS Code

Even though VS Code doesn’t have an obvious HTML preview functionality as soon as you launch it, it makes up for it with an enormous range of extensions. These community add-ons can bridge the void and give you a real-time view feature as if it’s always been built in. Here’s how to use them:

  1. Open the Extensions view in VS Code by pressing Ctrl+Shift+X. From here, you can look for any extension that suits your fancy.
  2. To find the correct extension, type keywords such as “live view” or “HTML preview” within this view. Each extension has different features, like easy-to-use live previews or integrated browser views within the VS Code environment.
  3. Once you find the extension that seems right for your project, click “Install,” and it will be a part of
    your Visual Studio Code environment for future use.
  4. Click the split-screen preview button to view your HTML file in the split screen.

Then, it’s time to explore the newfound capabilities of the extension you just installed. Check out its documentation or see what options are available through right-click context menus within your HTML file.

Run HTML in Terminal

If you’d rather not fiddle with extensions just yet, the Terminal in VS Code lets you run an HTML file without extensions, albeit it’s a bit more complex:

  1. Open or create a new file for HTML code.
  2. Click on Terminal at the top and select New Terminal to open it.
  3. Switch to the location of your HTML file with the cd command.
  4. Type “start ” followed by the HTML file’s name and press Enter. This will launch the HTML file in your default browser.

Open in Browser

Back to extensions, another handy extension for HTML and web development, in general, is “Open in browser,” which opens an HTML file in the web browser directly from VS Code. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Extensions button on the side.
  2. Type “open in browser” in the search bar to find the extension.
  3. Once you see the eponymous extension, install it.
  4. After installing it, right-click anywhere in your HTML code.
  5. Select “Open in Default Browser” or choose another browser from the “Open in Other Browser” option.

Advanced Features for HTML Development in VS Code

Once you set up your development environment and get all the right extensions, your project has only just started. Let’s briefly explore VS Code’s features that you can use while viewing HTML files to make your work easier.


IntelliSense is the digital programming mate that speeds up development by automatically filling in your code as you type. It guesses the most likely code and does so intelligently and non-invasively. IntelliSense offers instantaneous help when writing HTML structures, correctly predicting when you need to close tags, and delivering a context-based list of potential elements or attributes.

This feature stops you from wasting time scrolling through syntaxes or manually inserting and memorizing everything. This way, you can get a website up faster than ever before.


Making coding errors is inevitable no matter how experienced or knowledgeable you are – mistakes happen to everyone. However, finding these errors in time can save you from endless debugging. VS Code has nifty built-in validation that puts your embedded HTML, JavaScript, and CSS under scrutiny to catch bugs before they crawl out into your website and cause disruptions for users. A bug-free website is one that draws users in and makes them stay.


Keeping up with the correct formatting can sometimes be daunting, especially if you’re on the “throw stuff at it and see what works” team. Organizing isn’t always easy. But without proper structure, things can quickly become messy and confusing for you and other devs possibly collaborating with you.

With VS Code’s Format Document command (Ctrl+Shift+I), you can keep code neat and tidy, following industry standards. It’s a seemingly small, one-click alteration, but once you see it, you instantly appreciate its functionality.

Emmet Snippets

Emmet snippets for VS Code can massively speed up your development. Imagine you have sixteen buttons to design for a navigation bar. Writing out each button’s tags manually would be a painstaking task. Snippets let you breeze through these repetitive tasks, so you have more time for the heart of your project.

With these powerful shorthand abbreviations, mastering complex HTML (and CSS) structures is simple. You can add whichever code you expect to use often and simply add them to your file. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced coder, you won’t want to miss the time-saving hack of using code snippets.

Extensions Galore

The VS Code Marketplace is brimming with a spectrum of extensions. Most of them are made by eager community members and developers like you, who share their knowledge to make the job of others easier. Linting tools keep your code squeaky clean, live servers update your browser in the background as you render, and much more. It’s a powerhouse for creating sophisticated web applications. If you have a coding need, there is most likely an extension on the Marketplace ready to fulfill it.

Color Picker

In web development, visuals are everything. With the VS Code color picker, you don’t have to memorize complex hexadecimal codes. Choose colors, observe how they look in real time — even explore and understand how they connect with their neighboring hues and shades.

Customizing VS Code for HTML Development

VS Code isn’t a factory-made editor that must look a certain way. Suppose you want dim themes for all-night coding binges or more accessible viewing with less eye strain, specified tab spacing to improve code composition and organization, or custom data formats designed for exclusive projects. In that case, VS Code has many personalization choices.

HTML, in particular, is a straightforward markup language that, if you wish, you could write in the good old Notepad just as well, but then you would be missing out on many conveniences that editors like VS Code bring. Tap into the settings, explore, and reshape the editor – make it an expression of your coding self.

Real-Time Web Development

At first, running an HTML file in VS Code may seem a little obscure, especially if you were directed to this editor specifically for its web development conveniences. But with the right extensions (or the handy Terminal) and an understanding of the editor’s capabilities, it’s a breeze.

VS Code combines simple interfaces and powerful features for beginners and experienced web developers to do the job quickly. All these neat features will likely make it your preferable spot for manipulating code – and not only HTML.

Is Visual Studio Code your go-to editor for writing in HTML? Are you an experienced web developer or just starting? Drop a comment below, and share your stories, tips, and tricks.

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