The Complete Visual Guide to Sublime Text 3: Getting Started and Keyboard Shortcuts

Nicholas Cerminara


Sublime Text 3 is a blast to develop with. We've gotten a ton of feeback since our last article that Chris shared. These posts are intended to be a sequel to that, with all your feedback collected, and some new findings of our own. This series will take you from a plain vanilla install of Sublime Text 3 to having it be your personal supercharged text editor with the best plugins, features, settings, and themes available on the web. We've also put together as many short HTML5 video demos of it as possible so you can see the beauty of Sublime Text 3 in action.

Step 1: Install

At the time of writing this, Sublime Text 3 is still in Public Beta; however, I wouldn't let that scare you off from making jump from 2 to 3. I have found no problems with it, and most plugins seem to now support it. You can download the Sublime Text 3 Public Beta here.
Heads Up! Sublime Text may be downloaded and evaluated for free, however a license must be purchased for continued use. There is no enforced time limit for the evaluation.

Step 2: Install Package Control

Sublime Text Packages are anything from plugins, syntax highlighting definitions, menus, snippets and more. The real beauty comes from the developers who make these packages.
Package Control is a package manager for Sublime that allows you to easily install any of the hundreds of awesome plugins made by other developers. The best part is, you'll never have to leave Sublime to search, install, or remove these.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Chris has already written a pretty extensive post on Sublime Text 3 Shortcuts. You can find that post here. Below you'll find some of the best keyboard shortcuts and tricks that stand out amongst them all.

Command Palette

This is one of the most used commands. Just popup open the Command Palette and search for things like settings, options, syntax, and shortcuts. Most third-party packages that you'll install hook into this. One of the first things I do when I install a plugin is see what it added to the Command Palette. Some examples of things you can access are:
  • Settings
  • Changing Syntax
  • Snippets from Plugins
  • Actions from plugins (Git Commands, Block Comments, etc.)
Apple  ⌘ + ⇧ + p
Windows  ctrl + shift + p

Ultra-Fast File Switching

Use this command to navigate to open new files. The search is extremely smart, and lets you do things like:
  • style.css
  • power.js
  • index.php
  • some-path/index.php
Apple  ⌘ + p
Windows  ctrl + p

Go to Symbol / Definition / Method / Function

This functionality is awesome, and IDE fans and users surely will appreciate this. Sublime Text 3 indexes functions, methods, definitions, etc. so you can search them and easily switch to them. Sublime Text 3 also has the added benefit of being able to search these project wide (something Sublime Text 2 was lacking). Some example use cases for this are:
  • Quickly going to a function on the current page.
  • Going to a function on another page.
  • Search an entire project for a function.

Searching the Same Page

Apple  ⌘ + r
Windows  ctrl + r

Search a file then search that page

Apple  ⌘ + p then @
Windows  ctrl + p then @

Search an entire project

Apple  ⌘ + ⇧ + r
Windows  ctrl + shift + r


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Multi Select and Edit

Sometimes you quickly want to just select all similiar strings or words, or, sometimes, you need to edit on multiple lines the same thing. Expert Vim users will probably laugh at this, but this is a ridiculously useful and easy tick.

Keyboard Method

Apple  ⌘ + d
Windows  ctrl + d

Mouse Method

Apple  ⌘ + mouse-click, mouse-click, mouse-click...
Windows  ctrl + mouse-click, mouse-click, mouse-click...

Noteworthy Others

Here's some others that I felt weren't their own video, but are still definitely worth checking out. We also already have an entire article on Sublime Text 3 keyboard shortcuts already written out. I recommend checking that out and testing all the shortcuts to see which ones work with your developer workflow.

Distraction Free Mode

Apple  ⌃ + ⇧ + ⌘ + F
Windows  shift + F11

Toggle Sidebar

Apple  ⌘ + K, ⌘ + B or ⌘ + K + B
Windows  ctrl + k + b

Toggle Comment

Apple  ⌘ + /
Windows  ctrl + /

Duplicate Line

Apple  ⌘ + ⇧ + d
Windows  ctrl + shift + d

Multiple Columns

Apple  ⌘ + ⌥ + 1 to 4
Windows  alt + shift + 1 to 4

Four Panes (2x2)

Apple  ⌘ + ⌥ + 5
Windows  alt + shift + 5

Go to Line

Apple  ^ + G
Windows  ctrl + G