Pietro Rea

VS Code Insiders & Settings Sync

March 30, 2020

Like many developers, I often do my work on multiple machines. While I do not own a day phone and a night phone, I do have three Macs that I could get work on: an iMac that I share with the family, a personal laptop and a work laptop.

This is usually not a problem when it comes to the actual source code. I can push to Github from one machine, pull from Github from another and resume. The problem that I’ve always struggled with is keeping my IDE settings in sync.

I like tweak my key bindings, color themes and other settings to match my ideal workflow. So when I sit down at one of my computers and realize that I forgot to set up the Quick Open shortcut I use everywhere (Cmd + Shift + O), it feels like I put my shoe on the wrong foot.

I’ve made several ill-conceived attempts to sync over some of my settings, but nothing has stuck. Each app does settings differently, and in the end it seems like there’s a lot of manual setup and syncing that needs to happen anyway. If you’ve found a good solution that works for you, I’d love to know.

Syncing IDE settings has been such a long-running frustration for me that I had almost forgotten that it’s possible to come up with a solution. That’s why when I read about Visual Studio Settings Sync I was somewhere between a “yeah right” and a “hmmm…”.

I’m happy to report that it works. It’s only available in the Visual Studio Code Insiders build, so I installed that on all my computers first. My extensions, key bindings and IDE preferences are now being synced perfectly.

I would love to to talk to the product manager in charge of VS Code because this app continues to impress me. I hope Xcode follows suit at some point but I’m not going to hold breath. I also hope that Apple comes out with a generalized platform approach to give apps the ability to provide setting sync backed by iCloud. That would make owning several Macs much more palatable.

Pietro Rea
Written by Pietro Rea, a software engineer, engineering manager and author from northern Virginia.