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Elliot DeNolf
Elliot DeNolf

Posted on • Originally published at on

Backup and Restore Visual Studio Code Extensions from the Command Line

Originally posted on my blog at

I maintain my own dotfiles to be able to have identical setups between my work and personal machines. My Visual Studio Code configuration is one piece of those. While there is an extension out there that does extension syncing, I didn't find them ideal for my use-case as it also did a settings sync.

Backup Extensions

Let's output our list of extensions to a file.

> code --list-extensions > extensions.txt
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The file content will be similar to the following:

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Restore Extensions

Once we have our file listing our extensions, we can restore our extensions.

> cat extensions.txt | xargs -L 1 code --install-extension
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This line performs the code --install-extension command for every line in your file.

Use with a Script

To make these commands easier to use, we can use a script that wraps the code command. The following script will add code save-ext and code install-ext as commands. Any other standard command will simply be passed through.

#!/usr/bin/env bash

if command -v code >/dev/null 2>&1; then
  code() {
    case "$1" in
      echo "Saving code extensions..."
      code --list-extensions > ~/.dotfiles/vscode/extensions.txt
      echo "Installing code extensions..."
      cat ~/.dotfiles/vscode/extensions.txt | xargs -L 1 code --install-extension
      command code "$@"
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To use this script, modify the extensions.txt file path and also add the script to your PATH.

  • code save-ext will output your extensions to file
  • code install-ext will install them from file

I'd recommend saving this file to your personal dotfiles to share between your dev environments. Here are mine.


Top comments (2)

abelardoit profile image
abelardoit • Edited

Hi there,

I am doing something wrong since the .dotfiles directory is not created. 🤔

denolfe profile image
Elliot DeNolf

You will either need to create that directory structure or change it to something that exists.