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Visual Studio Code Quick Windows Install Using Zip File

When programming apps for Microsoft Windows there is plenty of choice when it comes to computer languages, and the tools for code editing, compiling and debugging within Integrated Development Environments (IDEs). Microsoft's preferred IDE is Visual Studio, and it has been for over 20 years. However, over the last few years Microsoft has provided the open source code editor called Visual Studio Code. This has become a popular cross-platform code editor for many types of computer languages and environments.

Visual Studio code is easy to install. It does not have as many in-depth features as the original Visual Studio IDE for coding Windows apps, but it supports many add-ons to extend its functionality. This article covers installing Visual Studio Code by just downloading the zip file and extracting it to a directory on the PC. Especially useful if you use an administrator controlled PC.

Grab the Visual Studio Code Zip File

  • Go to the Visual Studio Code Home Page and click on the Other platforms link or the Download button. We are not after the default Windows download for the zip file installation.
  • Under the Windows list click the 64-bit (x64) or 32-bit (x86) version next to .zip. To see if your version of Windows is 64-bit or 32-bit type About in the search box and select About your PC. See System type, e.g. it will say 32-bit or 64-bit operating system. Alternatively run the System Information App and look for the System Type line (e.g., set to x64-based PC for a 64-bit Windows).

Create a Directory for Visual Studio Code

Using Windows File Explorer create a directory to hold VS Code. I usually create sub-directory off the root of a hard disk that has lots of free space.

Create VS Code directory

Create a folder for your projects. This will be useful to keep your code separate from other work. The folder for projects can be added as a workspace in VS Code.

Copy all the Files from the Zip Download to the Directory

Go into the zip file and copy all the contents (all the files and directories) to the newly created directory on the PC. (Tip: Use Ctrl-A to select everything in the zip file.)

Create a Shortcut to VS Code

Once all the VS Code files are in the new directory, the Code.exe program can be run. It is useful to create a shortcut to VS Code for easy access, e.g. on the desktop, or pin it to the Windows taskbar.

Create a shortcut to VS Code

Run VS Code

VS Code is ready to run. Start VS code and, if required, add a folder to use as a workspace for your coding projects.

VS Code First Run

See the VS Code documentation and introductory videos for more getting started information. Note, unlike traditional IDEs, VS Code is very light, most features are added via extensions.

Install Support for a Language

Make it easier to use a specific computer language from within VS Code. For example, for C# support why not use .NET with VS Code. Start by installing .NET. Then within VS Studio open the extensions marketplace (click on Tools and languages from the Welcome tab or the Extensions icon on the lefthand side). Search for the required language, in this case C#, and click Install.

Install C# for VS Code

When a folder with files for the installed language is opened, it is easier to edit, run, and, if supported, debug an app project.

Run C# app in VS Code

VS Code has support for all the popular computer languages: C, C++, C#, Java, PHP, Python, Kotlin, and many, many more.

See Also

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