Show whitespace characters in Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio-CodeWhitespaceVscode SettingsNon Printing-Characters

Visual Studio-Code Problem Overview

Is it possible to show whitespace characters, like the space character, in Visual Studio Code?

There doesn't appear to be an option for it in the settings.json (though it is an option in, and I haven't been able to display whitespace characters using CSS.

Visual Studio-Code Solutions

Solution 1 - Visual Studio-Code

VS Code 1.6.0 and Greater

As mentioned by aloisdg below, editor.renderWhitespace is now an enum taking either none, boundary or all. To view all whitespaces:

"editor.renderWhitespace": "all", 

Before VS Code 1.6.0

Before 1.6.0, you had to set editor.renderWhitespace to true:

"editor.renderWhitespace": true

Solution 2 - Visual Studio-Code

It can also be done via the main menu View -> Render Whitespace

Solution 3 - Visual Studio-Code

UPDATE (June 2019)

For those willing to toggle whitespace characters using a keyboard shortcut, you can easily add a keybinding for that.

In the latest versions of Visual Studio Code there is now a user-friendly graphical interface (i.e. no need to type JSON data etc) for viewing and editing all the available keyboard shortcuts. It is still under

> File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts (or use Ctrl+K Ctrl+S)

There is also a search field to help quickly find (and filter) the desired keybindings. So now both adding new and editing the existing keybindings is much easier:

enter image description here

Toggling whitespace characters has no default keybinding so feel free to add one. Just press the + sign on the left side of the related line (or press Enter, or double click anywhere on that line) and enter the desired combination in the pop-up window.

And if the keybinding you have chosen is already used for some other action(s) there will be a convenient warning which you can click and observe what action(s) already use your chosen keybinding:

enter image description here

As you can see, everything is very intuitive and convenient.
Good job, Microsoft!

Original (old) answer

For those willing to toggle whitespace characters using a keyboard shortcut, you can add a custom binding to the keybindings.json file (File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts).


// Place your key bindings in this file to overwrite the defaults
[    {        "key": "ctrl+shift+i",        "command": "editor.action.toggleRenderWhitespace"    }]

Here I have assigned a combination of Ctrl+Shift+i to toggle invisible characters, you may of course choose another combination.

Solution 4 - Visual Studio-Code

Show whitespace characters in Visual Studio Code

change the settings.json, by adding the following codes!

> the file path is .vscode/settings.json in your project root folder.

    // Place your settings in this file to overwrite default and user settings.
        "editor.renderWhitespace": "all"

just like this!
(PS: there is no "true" option!, even it also works.) enter image description here

Solution 5 - Visual Studio-Code

*** Update August 2020 Release *** see

"editor.renderWhitespace": "trailing" // option being added

Add a new option ('trailing') to editor.renderWhitespace that renders only 
trailing whitespace (including lines with only whitespace).

*** Update February 2020 Release *** see

In v1.43 the default value will be changed to selection from none as it was in v1.42.

"editor.renderWhitespace": "selection"  // default in v1.43

Update for v1.37: adding the option to render whitespace within selected text only. See v1.37 release notes, render whitespace.

> The editor.renderWhitespace setting now supports a selection option. With this option set, whitespace will be shown only on selected text:

"editor.renderWhitespace": "selection"


"workbench.colorCustomizations": {    
  "editorWhitespace.foreground": "#fbff00"

demo of whitespace render in selection

Solution 6 - Visual Studio-Code

Just to demonstrate the changes that editor.renderWhitespace : none||boundary||all will do to your VSCode I added this screenshot:
enter image description here.

Where Tab are and Spaceare .

Solution 7 - Visual Studio-Code

  1. Open User preferences. Keyboard Shortcut: CTR + SHIFT + P -> Preferences: Open User Settings;

  2. Insert in search field Whitespace, and select all parameter enter image description here

Solution 8 - Visual Studio-Code

It is not a boolean anymore. They switched to an enum. Now we can choose between: none, boundary, and all.

// Controls how the editor should render whitespace characters,
// posibilties are 'none', 'boundary', and 'all'.
// The 'boundary' option does not render single spaces between words.
"editor.renderWhitespace": "none",

You can see the original diff on GitHub.

Solution 9 - Visual Studio-Code

All Platforms (Windows/Linux/Mac):

It is under View -> Render Whitespace.

>⚠️ Sometimes the menu item shows that it is currently active but you can's see white spaces. You should uncheck and check again to make it work. It is a known bug 

A note about the macOS 

In the mac environment, you can search for any menu option under the Help menu, then it will open the exact menu path you are looking for. For example, searching for whitespace result in this:


Solution 10 - Visual Studio-Code

In order to get the diff to display whitespace similarly to git diff set diffEditor.ignoreTrimWhitespace to false. edit.renderWhitespace is only marginally helpful.

// Controls if the diff editor shows changes in leading or trailing whitespace as diffs
"diffEditor.ignoreTrimWhitespace": false,

To update the settings go to

> File > Preferences > User Settings > > Note for Mac users: The Preferences menu is under Code not File. For > example, Code > Preferences > User Settings.

This opens up a file titled "Default Settings". Expand the area //Editor. Now you can see where all these mysterious editor.* settings are located. Search (CTRL + F) for renderWhitespace. On my box I have:

// Controls how the editor should render whitespace characters, posibilties are 'none', 'boundary', and 'all'. The 'boundary' option does not render single spaces between words.
"editor.renderWhitespace": "none",

To add to the confusion, the left window "Default Settings" is not editable. You need to override them using the right window titled "settings.json". You can copy paste settings from "Default Settings" to "settings.json":

// Place your settings in this file to overwrite default and user settings.
     "editor.renderWhitespace": "all",
     "diffEditor.ignoreTrimWhitespace": false

I ended up turning off renderWhitespace.

Solution 11 - Visual Studio-Code

The option to make whitespace visible now appears as an option on the View menu, as "Toggle Render Whitespace" in version 1.15.1 of Visual Studio Code.

Solution 12 - Visual Studio-Code

Hit the F1 button, then type "Toggle Render Whitespace" or the parts of it you can remember :)

I use vscode version 1.22.2 so this could be a feature that did not exist back in 2015.

Solution 13 - Visual Studio-Code

I'd like to offer this suggestion as a side note.
If you're looking to fix all the 'trailing whitespaces' warnings your linter throws at you.
You can have VSCode automatically trim whitespaces from an entire file using the keyboard chord.
CTRL+K / X (by default)

I was looking into showing whitespaces because my linter kept bugging me with whitespace warnings. So that's why I'm here.


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