Keyboard controlled VSCode with Vim and Tmux

I have recently abandoned Neovim as I missed a lot of things about VSCode and Webstorm. Mainly the Neovim I was using was basically keyboard first VSCode without debugger with around 30 plugins. In my years using Neovim I have learned a lot about how to take more out of it so I don't see it as a waste (there is always more to learn).

When I was using VSCode with VIM plugin a few years back my setup was nowhere near as good as it is now so I am happy to share some ideas from my most recent config if anyone is looking for tips and tricks on how to improve their development workflow.

Keybind meme

Tools I am using

  • Fish shell: I don't think shell matters much, zsh is also great, Fish has better autocomplete but I do miss sometimes the support zsh get's with install instructions and setup steps
  • Tmux: Mainly for the Vi key mode so that I can select and copy text, so in VSCode I just use cmd+j to show terminal q+space to start copy mode and can select text with hjkl.
  • VSCodeVim plugin: there are other plugins but this one was relatively easy to configure to emulate the configuration I was using in Neovim
  • VSCode keybindings and settings: lot of fine tuning to make everything work, will try to keep that updated in my dotfiles


set -g status-keys vi
set-window-option -g mode-keys vi
bind-key Space copy-mode


"terminal.integrated.profiles.osx": {
    "tmux-shell": {
        "path": "tmux",
        "args": [

`keybindings.json`` - hjkl navigation inside VSCode

  "key": "ctrl+h", 
  "command": "workbench.action.navigateLeft", 
  "key": "ctrl+j",
  "command": "workbench.action.navigateDown",
  "key": "ctrl+k",
  "command": "workbench.action.navigateUp",
  "key": "ctrl+l", 
  "command": "workbench.action.navigateRight", 

VSCodeVim configuration

I use a lot of Vim keybindings that you can find in my configuration files.


"vim.replaceWithRegister": true,
"vim.camelCaseMotion.enable": true,
"vim.highlightedyank.enable": true,
"vim.hlsearch": true,
"vim.easymotion": true,
"vim.leader": " ",
"vim.useSystemClipboard": true,
"vim.visualstar": true

Vim: Replace with Register

Allows me to use substitute operation in a very useful way, so that I can just do siw to overwrite word with the contents of my clipboard. I got used to this behavior from vim-subversive.

Vim: Surround

This plugin is enabled by default and makes it super easy to surround text in any symbol pair. I use this in both normal and visual mode to surround any block of text with brackets, quotes etc.

Vim: Camel Case Motion

Easy navigation by part of words using w, b, e etc. in camelCase text.

Vim: Easymotion

Similar to many jump plugins, probably not the best but good enough. The plugin allows to jump to any symbol or word on the screen.

Animated demonstration

I personally map it to s (forwards) and S (backwards) in normal mode followed by the start of a letter.

Outside of VSCode

I use keyboard hotkeys to switch between Chrome and VSCode with one shortcut. I find this even better than using multiple monitors and moving my eyes, also less straining on my neck if the monitor distance is suboptimal, more scalable and portable.