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Automatic installation of recommended VS Code Extensions

Recommended extensions in VS Code are a useful way to keep a development team on the same page. You can recommend extensions that perform formatting when saving files, show lint warning, and many other things that are useful when collaborating together on a codebase.

If extensions are recommended, VS Code users should see the following popup when opening the workspace folder:

Extension recommendations popup

There is a problem though: if a user dismisses this popup, it will not be shown again for the workspace. Also, if they have extensions.ignoreRecommendations set to true, they will never see this popup in the first place.

I found a way to install them automatically when opening a workspace folder in VS Code. With a "runOn": "folderOpen" VS Code task, we can run some code when the workspace is opened. Using a shell script, we can parse the extensions.json file and then run code --install-extension for each extension to install it.

In .vscode/tasks.json, you can create the install tasks like this:

  "version": "2.0.0",
  "tasks": [
      "label": "Install All Recommended Extensions",
      "type": "shell",
      "windows": {
        "command": "echo 'Not Supported on Windows'"
      "command": "node -e \"console.log(JSON.parse(require('fs').readFileSync('./.vscode/extensions.json')).recommendations.join('\\n'))\" | xargs -L 1 code --install-extension",
      "runOptions": {
        "runOn": "folderOpen"
      "presentation": {
        "reveal": "silent"

Note: The task assumes node (Node.js) and code CLI commands are available. Instructions for installing the VS Code CLI code can be found here.

With that task in place, extensions will be installed automatically! It looks like this when you open the workspace folder in VS Code:

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