How to Open Notebooks in VS Code

What are Notebooks?

Notebooks are documents that combine live code, equations, visualizations, and narrative text into a single canvas. They allow you to create and share documents that tell a data story.

The most popular notebook format is Jupyter Notebook, which supports over 100 programming languages including Python, R, Julia, and Scala.

Why Use Notebooks in VS Code?

Visual Studio Code provides excellent support for working with Jupyter Notebooks:

  • Full featured text editor to easily edit code and markdown cells
  • Built-in terminal and git support
  • Extensible and customizable via the Extension Marketplace
  • Local or remote compute connections
  • Available on Windows, macOS, and Linux

Some key benefits include:

  • Code Editing – Take advantage of VS Code’s great code editing support including IntelliSense, linting, formatting, etc.
  • Version Control – Easily commit your notebooks to git and collaborate.
  • Customizability – Install extensions to customize the notebooks experience.
  • Flexible Computing – Connect and offload compute to remote machines or cloud services.

Install the Extensions

To work with Jupyter Notebooks in VS Code, you need to install 2 extensions:

  • Python – Provides overall support for Python including Jupyter Notebook functionality.
  • Jupyter – Extends notebook support for other kernels like R and Julia.

To install:

  1. Open the Extensions view (Ctrl+Shift+X)
  2. Search for python and install the Python extension by Microsoft
  3. Search for jupyter and install the Jupyter extension by Microsoft

The Jupyter extension will be installed automatically with the Python extension, so you only need to explicitly install Python.

Create a New Notebook

There are two ways to create a Jupyter Notebook:

  1. Command Palette:
    • Ctrl+Shift+P to open the command palette
    • Start typing “create new blank notebook” and select that option
  2. New File:
    • Click the New File button on the File Explorer
    • Select Jupyter Notebook

After selecting a kernel, a new notebook will open with the first blank code cell.

Working with Code Cells

You can now add Markdown and Code cells:

  • Add cell – Click + Code or + Markdown on the top toolbar
  • Run cell – Click the Run Cell icon on the left toolbar
  • Advanced run – Shift+Enter runs and advances, Ctrl+Enter runs just current cell

Use keyboard shortcuts to edit cells:

  • Ctrl+M m – Toggle cell to Markdown
  • Ctrl+M y – Toggle cell to Code
  • Alt+Up – Move cell up
  • Alt+Down – Move cell down
  • Shift+Enter – Run cell and advance

Additional Tips

Here are some additional tips for working with Jupyter Notebooks in VS Code:

  • Install the Markdown All in One and Rainbow CSV extensions for enhanced Markdown editing
  • Enable Auto Save to automatically save your notebook
  • Reference the Jupyter Cheat Sheet extension for handy keyboard shortcuts
  • For Python, install related extensions like Pylance and Jupyter Keymap
  • Use the built-in Version Control and Git support


Visual Studio Code provides a robust environment for working with Jupyter Notebooks. The Python and Jupyter extensions enable first-class support for editing code, markdown, parameters, visualizations, and more in notebook documents. Additional VS Code functionality like version control and customizability through extensions further enhances the experience.