How to Configure the Touch Bar in Visual Studio Code in Under 5 Minutes

How to Configure the Touch Bar in Visual Studio Code in Under 5 Minutes

By Lars Grammel
By Lars Grammel
Published on October 21, 2022

The touch bar on the MacBook has the potential to provide quick access to commonly used commands in Visual Studio Code.

In the default configuration, the 'go forward' and 'go back' buttons are very useful. However, other default touch bar actions are less valuable and take up space. You might also find that everyday operations such as 'rename' (F2) or 'go to definition' (F12) are harder to access because you need to hold down Fn.

This post will show you how to configure Visual Studio Code to make the most of the touch bar.

Nasc Touchbar extension

The Nasc Touchbar extension enables you to easily add many additional actions to the touch bar, for example, Run command, Toggle side bar, and Rename.

You can configure which buttons are displayed in the Visual Studio Code settings (Preferences > Open Settings (UI), search for touch).

JS Assistant extension

I have included touch bar buttons that are helpful for JavaScript and TypeScript users in the JS Assistant extension. The extension adds the following actions to the touch bar:

  • ✏️ Rename: Triggers the rename command on the current symbol.
  • 🪄 Quick-Fix: Opens the quick-fix context menu.
  • 🔧 Refactor: Opens the refactor context menu.
  • 📄 Source Action: Opens the source action context menu.

The actions are only available when you edit JavaScript or TypeScript files. Similar to the Nasc Touchbar extension, you can configure which buttons are displayed in the Visual Studio Code settings (Preferences > Open Settings (UI)).

Disabling default debug touch bar actions

The default touch bar buttons take precedence over the controls added by the Nasc Touchbar and JS Assistant extensions. In particular, the debug actions can take up a lot of space and hide other buttons. You can disable them by adding the following to your settings.json file:

"keyboard.touchbar.ignored": [
  "workbench.action.debug.start",
  "workbench.action.debug.run",
  "workbench.action.debug.pause",
  "workbench.action.debug.stepOut",
  "workbench.action.debug.stepInto",
  "workbench.action.debug.stepOver",
  "workbench.action.debug.stop",
  "workbench.action.debug.restart"
]

Example configuration

Visual Studio Code Touch Bar

The above configuration shows the following buttons:

  • Go back and Go forward (default)
  • Go to definition, Run command, Toggle side bar, and Toggle bottom panel (Nasc Touchbar)
  • Rename, Source Action, Refactor, and Quick-Fix (JS Assistant)

In addition to the disable configuration for the debug actions, the following settings are used:

"nasc-touchbar.addCursorBelow": false,
"nasc-touchbar.rename": false,
"nasc-touchbar.toggleSidebar": true