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Whether you are coding or writing the next vampire best-seller, you’re likely to need certain short fragments of text again and again. Use snippets to save yourself tedious typing. Snippets are smart templates that will insert text for you and adapt it to their context.

To create a new snippet, select Tools | New Snippet…. Sublime Text will present you with an skeleton for a new snippet.

Snippets can be stored under any package’s folder, but to keep it simple while you’re learning, you can save them to your Packages/User folder.

Snippets File Format

Snippets typically live in a Sublime Text package. They are simplified XML files with the extension sublime-snippet. For instance, you could have a greeting.sublime-snippet inside an Email package.

The structure of a typical snippet is as follows (including the default hints Sublime Text inserts for your convenience):

    <content><![CDATA[Type your snippet here]]></content>
    <!-- Optional: Tab trigger to activate the snippet -->
    <!-- Optional: Scope the tab trigger will be active in -->
    <!-- Optional: Description to show in the menu -->
    <description>My Fancy Snippet</description>

The snippet element contains all the information Sublime Text needs in order to know what to insert, whether to insert it and when. Let’s see all of these parts in turn.


The actual snippet. Snippets can range from simple to fairly complex templates. We’ll look at examples of both later.

Keep the following in mind when writing your own snippets:

  • If you want the get a literal $, you have to escape it like this: \$.
  • When writing a snippet that contains indentation, always use tabs. The tabs will be transformed into spaces when the snippet is inserted if the option translateTabsToSpaces is set to true.

The content must be included in a <![CDATA[…]]> section. Snippets won’t work if you don’t do this!


Defines the sequence of keys you will press to insert this snippet. The snippet will kick in as soon as you hit the Tab key after typing this sequence.

A tab trigger is an implicit key binding.

Scope selector determining the context where the snippet will be active. See Scopes for more information.
Used when showing the snippet in the Snippets menu. If not present, Sublime Text defaults to the name of the snippet.

With this information, you can start writing your own snippets as described in the next sections.


In the interest of brevity, we’re only including the content element’s text in examples unless otherwise noted.

Snippet Features

Environment Variables

Snippets have access to contextual information in the form of environment variables. Sublime Text sets the values of the variables listed below automatically.

You can also add your own variables to provide extra information. These custom variables are defined in .sublime-options files.

$PARAM1, $PARAM2… Arguments passed to the insert_snippet command. (Not covered here.)
$SELECTION The text that was selected when the snippet was triggered.
$TM_CURRENT_LINE Content of the line the cursor was in when the snippet was triggered.
$TM_CURRENT_WORD Current word under the cursor when the snippet was triggered.
$TM_FILENAME File name of the file being edited including extension.
$TM_FILEPATH File path to the file being edited.
$TM_FULLNAME User’s user name.
$TM_LINE_INDEX Column the snippet is being inserted at, 0 based.
$TM_LINE_NUMBER Row the snippet is being inserted at, 1 based.
$TM_SOFT_TABS YES if translate_tabs_to_spaces is true, otherwise NO.
$TM_TAB_SIZE Spaces per-tab (controlled by the tab_size option).

Let’s see a simple example of a snippet using variables:

 TAB SIZE:          $TM_TAB_SIZE

# Output:
USER NAME:          guillermo
FILE NAME:          test.txt
 TAB SIZE:          4
SOFT TABS:          YES


With the help of field markers, you can cycle through positions within the snippet by pressing the Tab key. Fields are used to walk you through the customization of a snippet once it’s been inserted.

First Name: $1
Second Name: $2
Address: $3

In the example above, the cursor will jump to $1 if you press Tab once. If you press Tab a second time, it will advance to $2, etc. You can also move backwards in the series with Shift+Tab. If you press Tab after the highest tab stop, Sublime Text will place the cursor at the end of the snippet’s content so that you can resume normal editing.

If you want to control where the exit point should be, use the $0 mark.

You can break out of the field cycle any time by pressing Esc.

Mirrored Fields

Identical field markers mirror each other: when you edit the first one, the rest will be populated with the same value in real time.

First Name: $1
Second Name: $2
Address: $3
User name: $1

In this example, “User name” will be filled out with the same value as “First Name”.

Place Holders

By expanding the field syntax a little bit, you can define default values for a field. Place holders are useful when there’s a general case for your snippet but you still want to keep its customization convenient.

First Name: ${1:Guillermo}
Second Name: ${2:López}
Address: ${3:Main Street 1234}
User name: $1

Variables can be used as place holders:

First Name: ${1:Guillermo}
Second Name: ${2:López}
Address: ${3:Main Street 1234}
User name: ${4:$TM_FULLNAME}

And you can nest place holders within other place holders too:

Test: ${1:Nested ${2:Placeholder}}



This section is a draft and may contain inaccurate information.

In addition to the place holder syntax, tab stops can specify more complex operations with substitutions. Use substitutions to dynamically generate text based on a mirrored tab stop.

The substitution syntax has the following syntaxes:

  • ${var_name/regex/format_string/}
  • ${var_name/regex/format_string/options}
The variable name: 1, 2, 3…
Perl-style regular expression: See the Boost library reference for regular expressions.
See the Boost library reference for format strings.
Optional. May be any of the following:
Case-insensitive regex.
Replace all occurrences of regex.
Don’t ignore newlines in the string.

With substitutions you can, for instance, underline text effortlessly:

      Original: ${1:Hey, Joe!}
Transformation: ${1/./=/g}

# Output:

      Original: Hey, Joe!
Transformation: =========