Use Visual Studio Code to create and run Transact-SQL scripts for SQL Server

APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server (Linux only) noAzure SQL Database noAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

This article shows how to use the mssql extension for Visual Studio Code (VS Code) to develop SQL Server databases.

Visual Studio Code is a graphical code editor for Linux, macOS, and Windows that supports extensions. The mssql extension for VS Code enables you to connect to SQL Server, query with Transact-SQL (T-SQL), and view the results.

Install VS Code

  1. If you have not already installed VS Code, Download and install VS Code on your machine.

  2. Start VS Code.

Install the mssql extension

The following steps explain how to install the mssql extension.

  1. Press CTRL+SHIFT+P (or F1) to open the Command Palette in VS Code.

  2. Select Install Extension and type mssql.


    For macOS, the CMD key is equivalent to CTRL key on Linux and Windows.

  3. Click install mssql.

    Install the extension

  4. The mssql extension takes up to one minute to install. Wait for the prompt that tells you it successfully installed.

    Installation success notification


    For macOS, you must install OpenSSL. This is a pre-requisite for .Net Core used by the mssql extension. Follow the install pre-requisite steps in the .Net Core instructions. Or, you can run the following commands in your macOS Terminal.

    brew update
    brew install openssl
    ln -s /usr/local/opt/openssl/lib/libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib /usr/local/lib/
    ln -s /usr/local/opt/openssl/lib/libssl.1.0.0.dylib /usr/local/lib/


    For Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 or lower versions, you must download and install the Windows 10 Universal C Runtime. Download and open the zip file. Then run the installer (.msu file) targeting your current OS configuration.

Create or open a SQL file

The mssql extension enables mssql commands and T-SQL IntelliSense in the editor when the language mode is set to SQL.

  1. Press CTRL+N. Visual Studio Code opens a new 'Plain Text' file by default.

  2. Press CTRL+K,M and change the language mode to SQL.

    SQL language mode

  3. Alternatively, open an existing file with .sql file extension. The language mode is automatically SQL for files that have the .sql extension.

Connect to SQL Server

The following steps show how to connect to SQL Server with VS Code.

  1. In VS Code, press CTRL+SHIFT+P (or F1) to open the Command Palette.

  2. Type sql to display the mssql commands.

    mssql commands

  3. Select the MS SQL: Connect command. You can simply type sqlcon and press ENTER.

  4. Select Create Connection Profile. This creates a connection profile for your SQL Server instance.

  5. Follow the prompts to specify the connection properties for the new connection profile. After specifying each value, press ENTER to continue.

    The following table describes the Connection Profile properties.

    Setting Description
    Server name The SQL Server instance name. For this tutorial, use localhost to connect to the local SQL Server instance on your machine. If connecting to a remote SQL Server, enter the name of the target SQL Server machine or its IP address. If you need to specify a port for your SQL Server instance, use a comma to separate it from the name. For example for a local server running on port 1401 you would enter localhost,1401.
    [Optional] Database name The database that you want to use. For purposes of this tutorial, don't specify a database and press ENTER to continue.
    User name Enter the name of a user with access to a database on the server. For this tutorial, use the default SA account created during the SQL Server setup.
    Password (SQL Login) Enter the password for the specified user.
    Save Password? Type Yes to save the password. Otherwise, type No to be prompted for the password each time the Connection Profile is used.
    [Optional] Enter a name for this profile The Connection Profile name. For example, you could name the profile localhost profile.


    You can create and edit connection profiles in User Settings file (settings.json). Open the settings file by selecting Preference and then User Settings in the VS Code menu. For more information, see manage connection profiles.

  6. Press the ESC key to close the info message that informs you that the profile is created and connected.


    If you get a connection failure, first attempt to diagnose the problem from the error message in the Output panel in VS Code (select Output on the View menu). Then review the connection troubleshooting recommendations.

  7. Verify your connection in the status bar.

    Connection status

Create a database

  1. In the editor, type sql to bring up a list of editable code snippets.

    SQL snippets

  2. Select sqlCreateDatabase.

  3. In the snippet, type TutorialDB for the database name.

    USE master
       SELECT name
       FROM sys.databases
       WHERE name = N'TutorialDB'
  4. Press CTRL+SHIFT+E to execute the Transact-SQL commands. View the results in the query window.

    create database messages


    You can customize shortcut key bindings for the mssql extension commands. See customize shortcuts.

Create a table

  1. Remove the contents of the editor window.

  2. Press F1 to display the Command Palette.

  3. Type sql in the Command Palette to display the SQL commands or type sqluse for MS SQL:Use Database command.

  4. Click MS SQL:Use Database, and select the TutorialDB database. This changes the context to the new database created in the previous section.

    use database

  5. In the editor, type sql to display the snippets, and then select sqlCreateTable and press enter.

  6. In the snippet, type Employees for the table name.

  7. Press Tab, and then type dbo for the schema name.


    After adding the snippet, you must type the table and schema names without changing focus away from the VS Code editor.

  8. Change the column name for Column1 to Name and Column2 to Location.

    -- Create a new table called 'Employees' in schema 'dbo'
    -- Drop the table if it already exists
    IF OBJECT_ID('dbo.Employees', 'U') IS NOT NULL
    DROP TABLE dbo.Employees
    -- Create the table in the specified schema
    CREATE TABLE dbo.Employees
       EmployeesId        INT    NOT NULL   PRIMARY KEY, -- primary key column
       Name      [NVARCHAR](50)  NOT NULL,
       Location   [NVARCHAR](50)  NOT NULL
  9. Press CTRL+SHIFT+E to create the table.

Insert and query

  1. Add the following statements to insert four rows into the Employees table. Then select all the rows.

    -- Insert rows into table 'Employees'
    INSERT INTO Employees
       ( 1, N'Jared', N'Australia'),
       ( 2, N'Nikita', N'India'),
       ( 3, N'Tom', N'Germany'),
       ( 4, N'Jake', N'United States')   
    -- Query the total count of employees
    SELECT COUNT(*) as EmployeeCount FROM dbo.Employees;
    -- Query all employee information
    SELECT e.EmployeesId, e.Name, e.Location 
    FROM dbo.Employees as e


    While you type, use the assistance of the T-SQL IntelliSense. TSQL IntelliSense

  2. Press CTRL+SHIFT+E to execute the commands. The two result sets display in the Results window.


View and save the result

  1. On the View menu, select Toggle Editor Group Layout to switch to vertical or horizontal split layout.

    Vertical split

  2. Click the Results and Messages panel header to collapse and expand the panel.

    Toggle Messages


    You can customize the default behavior of the mssql extension. See customize extension options.

  3. Click the maximize grid icon on the second result grid to zoom in.

    Maximize grid


    The maximize icon displays when your T-SQL script has two or more result grids.

  4. Open the grid context menu with the right mouse button on a grid.

    Context menu

  5. Select Select All.

  6. Open the grid context menu and select Save as JSON to save the result to a .json file.

  7. Specify a file name for the JSON file. For this tutorial, type employees.json.

  8. Verify that the JSON file is saved and opened in VS Code.

    Save as Json

Next steps

In a real-world scenario, you might create a script that you need to save and run later (either for administration or as part of a larger development project). In this case, you can save the script with a .sql extension.

If you're new to T-SQL, see Tutorial: Writing Transact-SQL Statements and the Transact-SQL Reference (Database Engine).

For more information on using or contributing to the mssql extension, see the mssql extension project wiki.

For more information on using VS Code, see the Visual Studio Code documentation.