Beginner Programmer Tips and Tricks

When first dipping your toe into the expansive ocean of knowledge that is software engineering, you’re going to use your computer in ways you never knew existed. Gone are the days of guilt-free endless scrolling through Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram. Now when you‘re sitting at your desk there is always a puzzle to solve, an idea to conceptualize, a world to create.

Visual Setup

Not only is the beginner programmer using their computer in ways they never imagined, but they are also probably spending more time on it than ever before. There is a great youtube account I follow called TechLead, he is an “Ex-Google Tech Lead.” In this video ( he mentions how, when starting a new job, he will spend much more time than is generally expected just to get his desk and computer environment exactly how he wants it. Though the beginner programmer is not going to have all the specificities of the TechLead, it is still helpful to get an environment that you find works well for you and your workflow. In this article, we will be using Visual Studio Code as our text editor. There are other great options such as Sublime, Atom, and XCode but these examples will be geared toward VS Code. All of the options below can be found in the extensions marketplace found inside VS Code.

Writing Code

As programmers, we want to automate as many of the repetitive, mundane tasks so we can focus on the higher levels of abstraction. Don’t subject yourself to needless error messages when your logic is working but you misspelled “customer.” Things like closing tags(Auto Close Tag), renaming the same tag in multiple places(Auto Rename Tag), misspelled words(Code Spell Checker), and unfamiliarity of which bracket or parentheses matches (Bracket Pair Colorizer) can all be automated using these four extensions.

AutoClose Tag
Auto Rename Tag (left), Code Spell Checker (right)
Bracket Pair Colorizer
  • Control + shift + z: redo action
  • Command + tab: switch between programs
  • Command + left/right: move the cursor to the beginning or end of the line
  • Option + left/right: move the cursor to the next word or punctuation
  • Command + x: cut selected items
  • Command + shift + up/down: highlights everything above or below your cursor
  • Command + click: move a window in the background without bringing it to the front
  • Option + shift + up/down: duplicates the same line of code up or down
  • Hold option + click: multi-cursor editing