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Sublime Text stores configuration data in .sublime-settings files. Flexibility comes at the price of a slightly complex system for applying settings. However, here’s a rule of thumb:

Always place your personal settings files under Packages/User to guarantee they will take precedence over any other conflicting settings files.

With that out of the way, let’s unveil, to please masochistic readers, the mysteries of how settings work.


Settings files use JSON and have the .sublime-settings extension.

Types of Settings

The purpose of each .sublime-settings file is determined by its name. These names can be descriptive (like Preferences (Windows).sublime-settings or Minimap.sublime-settings), or they can be related to what the settings file is controlling. For example, file type settings need to carry the name of the .tmLanguage syntax definition for the file type. Thus, for the

.py file type, whose syntax definition is contained in Python.tmLanguage, the corresponding settings file would be called Python.sublime-settings.

Also, some settings files only apply to specific platforms. This can be inferred from the filenames: Preferences (Windows).sublime-settings, Preferences (Linux).sublime-settings, etc.

This is important: Platform-specific settings files in the Packages/User folder are ignored. In this way, you can be sure that a single Platform-specific settings file will override all others.

How to Access and Edit Common Settings Files

Unless you need very fine-grained control over settings, you can access the main configuration files through the Preferences | Settings - User and Preferences | Settings - More menu items. Editing Preferences - Settings Default isn’t a smart thing to do, because changes will be reverted with every update to the software. However, you can use that file for reference: it contains comments explaining the purpose of all available global and file type settings.

Order of Precedence of .sublime-settings Files

The same settings file (such as Python.sublime-settings) can appear in multiple places. All settings defined in identically named files will be merged together and overwritten according to predefined rules. See Merging and Order of Precedence for more information.

Let us remember again that any given settings file in Packages/User ultimately overrides every other settings file of the same name.

In addition to settings files, Sublime Text maintains session data—settings for the particular set of files being currently edited. Session data is updated as you work on files, so if you adjust settings for a particular file in any way (mainly through API calls), they will be recorded in the session and will take precedence over any applicable .sublime-settings files.

To check the value of a setting for a particular file being edited, use view.settings().get(<setting_name>) from the console.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that some settings may be automatically adjusted for you. Keep this in mind if you’re puzzled about some setting’s value. For instance, this is the case for certain whitespace-related settings and the syntax setting.

Below, you can see the order in which Sublime Text would process a hypothetical hierarchy of settings for Python files on Windows:

  • Packages/Default/Preferences.sublime-settings
  • Packages/Default/Preferences (Windows).sublime-settings
  • Packages/User/Preferences.sublime-settings
  • Packages/Python/Python.sublime-settings
  • Packages/User/Python.sublime-settings
  • Session data for the current file
  • Auto adjusted settings

Global Editor Settings and Global File Settings

These settings are stored in Preferences.sublime-settings and Preferences (<platform>).sublime-settings files. The defaults can be found in Packages/Default.

Valid names for <platform> are Linux, OSX, and Windows.

File Type Settings

If you want to target a specific file type, name the .sublime-settings file after the file type’s syntax definition. For example, if our syntax definition was called Python.tmLanguage, we’d need to call our settings file Python.sublime-settings.

Settings files for specific file types usually live in packages, like Packages/Python, but there can be multiple settings files in separate locations for the same file type.

Similarly to global settings, one can establish platform-specific settings for file types. For example, Python (Linux).sublime-settings would be consulted only under Linux.

Also, let us stress that, under Packages/User, only Python.sublime-settings would be read, but not any Python (<platform>).sublime-settings variants.

Regardless of its location, any file-type-specific settings file has precedence over every global settings file affecting the file type.

Where to Store User Settings (Once Again)

Whenever you want to save settings, especially if they should be preserved between software updates, place the corresponding .sublime-settings file in Packages/User.


Want even better documentation for Sublime Text?

We are starting a new round of writing and editing to improve this guide in many ways. If you find it useful, please support us.