How to quickly toggle (enable/disable) autosave in VS Code

Last updated on October 04, 2023
How to quickly toggle (enable/disable) autosave in VS Code

To enable or disable autosave in VS Code, use the File > Auto Save option from the menu bar.

The `File > Auto Save` option in Visual Studio Code enables/disables autosave.

After this, the "dirty" indicator will no longer show up when you modify a saved file.

Before:

Visual Studio Code without autosave.
No autosave.

After:

Visual Studio Code with autosave.
Autosave enabled - the unsaved indicator no longer shows.

Why do we need autosave?

So we can stop mindlessly pressing Ctrl + S.

So we can save time, increase productivity, and be much more certain that we're working with the latest changes.

Autosave is not perfect though; it's up to you to weigh the pros and cons - which we comprehensively cover here.

What's not to like about autosave?

Some of the cons we talk about in that autosave article:

  1. It wastes resources because it saves even when you're not ready to view the results of your changes.
  2. It makes it harder to recover from unexpected errors, for example, making a buggy file change and accidentally closing the file.
  3. There's no auto-formatting with auto-save.

Enable/disable autosave in VS Code Settings

Alternatively, we can disable autosave in Visual Studio Code using the Files: Auto Save setting in the Settings page.

You can easily navigate to this page with the gear icon at the top-left of the code editor:

You can open Settings with the bottom-left gear icon.

Once you get there, you can use the search bar to find the setting.

Using the `Files: Auto Save` option in VS Code Settings.

As you can see, Files: Auto Save can be one of four possible values, namely:

  1. off - self-explanatory: disable autosave.
  2. afterDelay: - the new value enables autosave with the File > Auto Save setting. autosaves the file sometime after your changes.
  3. onFocusDelay - autosaves the dirty file when you switch windows or tabs.
  4. onWindowChange - as the name implies, autosaves the unsaved file when you switch windows in the operating system.

So there are more customization options in the Settings page than in the menu bar.

Change autosave delay in VS Code

When Files: Auto Save is set to afterDelay, you can modify the autosave delay in Visual Studio Code with the Files: Auto Save Delay setting.

Modifying the autosave delay in VS Code.

You may be better off increasing the autosave delay instead of disabling autosave entirely, so VS Code still saves your work automatically, while minimizing the impact on system resources.

Enable/disable autosave in VS Code with Command Palette

To turn autosave on or off in Visual Studio Code, you can also use the File: Toggle Auto Save command, accessible from the Command Palette:

Toggling auto save in VS Code with the Command Palette.

See also