How to View HTML Files in VS Code Editor

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a popular open-source code editor developed by Microsoft. It provides advanced code editing features for web development, including excellent support for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

While VS Code itself does not have a built-in HTML preview feature, you can easily view HTML files in VS Code using extensions. This article will cover several methods to preview HTML in the VS Code editor.

Why View HTML in VS Code

Here are some key reasons why you may want to view HTML files in VS Code:

  • Live preview changes as you edit – See updates instantly without manually refreshing
  • Visual feedback – Easily spot layout, styling, and rendering issues
  • Identify problems early – Fix bugs and issues faster
  • Improves workflow – Code and preview in one place
  • Portability – Preview on any device running VS Code

Methods to View HTML in VS Code

There are several good extensions for previewing HTML in VS Code:

1. Live Server

The Live Server extension is one of the most popular options for viewing HTML pages.

Features:

  • One-click local server launch
  • Live reload on saves
  • Support for CSS and JS files
  • Customizable port, root directory, etc.

To use:

  1. Install the Live Server extension
  2. Open a HTML file in the editor
  3. Right click and select Open with Live Server
  4. Your default browser will launch a preview

You can also click the Go Live status bar button to launch or stop the server.

2. HTML Preview

The HTML Preview extension provides an in-editor preview.

Features:

  • Preview directly inside VS Code
  • Live updates as you edit
  • Custom CSS support
  • Clickable links

To use:

  1. Install HTML Preview
  2. Open a HTML file
  3. Click the preview icon in the editor title menu

You can toggle the preview pane visibility and resize it.

3. Open in Browser

You can also open HTML files directly in an external browser:

  1. Install the Open in Browser extension
  2. In VS Code, right click on a HTML file
  3. Select Open in Browser > choose a browser

This doesn’t provide live reloading but allows quick one-off previews.

Tips for Viewing HTML in VS Code

Here are some additional tips:

  • Use browser dev tools – Inspect elements, view the console, sources etc.
  • Customize preview settings – Port, root folder, browser, CSS injection etc.
  • Try different extensions – Find one that best fits your workflow
  • Split editor layout – View code and preview side-by-side
  • Use Emmet for fast HTML coding – Tab expansions, shortcuts, etc.

Conclusion

Previewing HTML files is easy in Visual Studio Code thanks to its extensions ecosystem. The Live Server and HTML Preview extensions provide the best live editing capabilities.

Remember the built-in Emmet support when writing HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Experiment with different setups and extensions to find your optimal editing and previewing flow.

With its flexibility and customization options, VS Code can improve your web development productivity.