How to replicate the ISE experience in Visual Studio Code

While the PowerShell extension for VS Code doesn't seek complete feature parity with the PowerShell ISE, there are features in place to make the VS Code experience more natural for users of the ISE.

This document tries to list settings you can configure in VS Code to make the user experience a bit more familiar compared to the ISE.

ISE Mode


This feature is available in the PowerShell Preview extension since version 2019.12.0 and in the PowerShell extension since version 2020.3.0.

The easiest way to replicate the ISE experience in Visual Studio Code is by turning on "ISE Mode". To do this, open the command palette (F1 OR Ctrl+Shift+P OR Cmd+Shift+P on macOS) and type in "ISE Mode". Select "PowerShell: Enable ISE Mode" from the list.

This command automatically applies the settings described below The result looks like this:

Visual Studio Code in ISE Mode

ISE Mode configuration settings

ISE Mode makes the following changes to VS Code settings.

  • Key bindings

    Function ISE Binding VS Code Binding
    Interrupt and break debugger Ctrl+B F6
    Execute current line/highlighted text F8 F8
    List available snippets Ctrl+J Ctrl+Alt+J


    You can configure your own key bindings in VS Code as well.

  • Simplified ISE-like UI

    If you're looking to simplify the Visual Studio Code UI to look more closely to the UI of the ISE, apply these two settings:

    "workbench.activityBar.visible": false,
    "debug.openDebug": "neverOpen",

    These settings hide the "Activity Bar" and the "Debug Side Bar" sections shown inside the red box below:

    Highlighted section includes Activity Bar and Debug Side Bar

    The end result looks like this:

    Simplified view of VS Code

  • Tab completion

    To enable more ISE-like tab completion, add this setting:

    "editor.tabCompletion": "on",
  • No focus on console when executing

    To keep the focus in the editor when you execute with F8:

    "powershell.integratedConsole.focusConsoleOnExecute": false

    The default is true for accessibility purposes.

  • Don't start integrated console on startup

    To stop the integrated console on startup, set:

    "powershell.integratedConsole.showOnStartup": false


    The background PowerShell process still starts to provide IntelliSense, script analysis, symbol navigation, etc., but the console won't be shown.

  • Assume files are PowerShell by default

    To make new/untitled files, register as PowerShell by default:

    "files.defaultLanguage": "powershell",
  • Color scheme

    There are a number of ISE themes available for VS Code to make the editor look much more like the ISE.

    In the Command Palette type theme to get Preferences: Color Theme and press Enter. In the drop-down list, select PowerShell ISE.

    You can set this theme in the settings with:

    "workbench.colorTheme": "PowerShell ISE",
  • PowerShell Command Explorer

    Thanks to the work of @corbob, the PowerShell extension has the beginnings of its own command explorer.

    In the Command Palette, enter PowerShell Command Explorer and press Enter.

  • Open in the ISE

    If you want to open a file in the Windows PowerShell ISE anyway, open the Command Palette, search for "open in ise", then select PowerShell: Open Current File in PowerShell ISE.

Other resources

VS Code Tips

  • Command Palette

    The Command Palette is handy way of executing commands in VS Code. Open the command palette using F1 OR Ctrl+Shift+P OR Cmd+Shift+P on macOS.

    For more information, see the VS Code documentation.

  • Hide the Debug Console panel

    The PowerShell extension uses the built-in debugging interface of VS Code to allow for debugging of PowerShell scripts and modules. However, the extension does not use the Debug Console panel. To hide the Debug Console, right-click on Debug Console and select Hide 'Debug Console'.

    Screenshot show how to hide the Debug Console panel.

    For more information about debugging PowerShell with Visual Studio Code, see Using VS Code.

More settings

If you know of more ways to make VS Code feel more familiar for ISE users, contribute to this doc. If there's a compatibility configuration you're looking for, but you can't find any way to enable it, open an issue and ask away!

We're always happy to accept PRs and contributions as well!