How to Open Files in Browser from VS Code Editor

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a popular code editor used by web developers. While it has great support for editing HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other web files, it does not have a built-in option to preview these files in a browser.

However, with the help of some useful extensions, you can easily open files from VS Code in your default browser or even preview them directly within the editor. In this article, we will explore the various methods to achieve this.

Why View Files in Browser

When building websites and web apps, you need to constantly check how your HTML pages look, if the CSS styling is applied correctly, or if your JavaScript code works as expected.

Opening the files in a browser gives you a live preview and is faster than manually deploying to a server after every small change. Being able to quickly preview from the editor itself improves productivity.


Before we look at the various options, you need to have the following:

  • Visual Studio Code editor installed
  • A web project with HTML, CSS, JavaScript files
  • Chrome, Firefox or any other web browser installed

It is also recommended to install some useful VS Code extensions that we will mention below.

Using Live Server Extension

The Live Server extension is one of the most popular in VS Code Marketplace. It has over 8 million downloads!

Once installed, it can be used to launch a local development server with live reload feature for your static pages. Follow these steps:

  • Install the Live Server extension
  • Open an HTML file in the VS Code editor
  • Click on the Go Live button at the bottom right, this will open the page in your browser
  • Now any changes you save will automatically reload and reflect in browser

The advantage of using Live Server is that it launches an actual web server and sets up WebSocket connection for live reload. So you get a real browser preview similar to viewing hosted pages.

Open in Default Browser

If you don’t need the live reload functionality, you can directly open HTML files in your default browser configured in your OS.

The Open in Browser extension lets you do this easily.

  • Install the Open in Browser extension
  • Open a HTML file in editor
  • Use the command Open With Browser or right-click the file and choose Open With Browser
  • This will open the file in your default browser

Since this method uses your default browser, you can directly access useful DevTools for debugging from your editor.

Using Browser Preview Extension

The Browser Preview extension opens an embedded web browser within VS Code. You get a browser preview right inside the editor!

  • Install the Browser Preview extension
  • Ensure your web server is running (can integrate with Live Server)
  • Open a HTML file
  • Use command Browser Preview: Open Preview
  • This will open the page in preview window inside editor

The advantage here is seamless integration and ability to debug web pages within the editor using features like setting breakpoints.

Tips When Using Preview

Here are some useful things to keep in mind when viewing files in browser from VS Code:

  • Set browser to disable caching to view latest code changes
  • Use browser DevTools to debug CSS, JS and inspect elements
  • For Live Server, use Go Live button to quickly enable/disable server
  • Customize Browser Preview window size if embedded view is small

Troubleshooting Issues

Some common issues faced when trying to view files in browser and how to resolve them:

  • Live reload not working: Check if browser cache is enabled, try hard refresh
  • Blank page in browser: Verify if path to HTML file is correct
  • Browser shows old content: Disable cache and refresh page
  • Preview not opening: Ensure web server is running and file is saved
  • Small browser preview: Set desired viewport size in Browser Preview settings


Being able to easily open files in the browser for preview and testing purposes is very important when working on web projects in Visual Studio Code.

With the help of handy extensions like Live Server and Browser Preview, you can boost your productivity by previewing changes instantly within the editor.

Set up these extensions for your projects, customize their options if needed and you will have a much better coding experience!