Packages are simply folders under Packages, or zip archives with the .sublime-package extension saved under Installed Packages.

Here’s a list of typical resources that can be found inside packages:

  • build systems (.sublime-build)
  • key maps (.sublime-keymap)
  • macros (.sublime-macro)
  • menus (.sublime-menu)
  • plugins (.py)
  • syntax preferences (.tmPreferences)
  • settings (.sublime-settings)
  • syntax definitions (.tmLanguage)
  • snippets (.sublime-snippet)
  • themes (.sublime-theme)

Some packages may include support files for other packages or core features. For example, the spell checker uses $PATH_TO_SUBLIME_TEXTPackagesLanguage - English.sublime-package as a data store for English dictionaries.

Types of Packages

In this guide, we classify packages under different categories. This classification is artificial and useful just for clarity when discussing this topic. Sublime Text doesn’t use this classification in any way.

core packages
Sublime Text requires these packages in order to work.
shipped packages
Included in every installation, though technically not required. They enhance Sublime Text out of the box. May have been contributed by users or third parties.
user packages
Installed by the user to extend Sublime Text’s functionaility. They are not part of any Sublime Text installation, and are always contributed by users or third parties.
installed packages
Packages stored under Installed Packages as .sublime-package‘s

It’s worth noting that by third party we mainly refer to users of other editors, such as Textmate.

Package Installation

Ultimately, installing a package is simply a matter of copying a folder containing Sublime Text resources to Packages, or a .sublime-package file to Installed Packages. The only thing that varies is how you obtain and copy these files.

Installation of .sublime-package Files

Copy the .sublime-package file to the Installed Packages folder and restart Sublime Text. If the Installed Packages folder doesn’t exist, you can create it.

Note that .sublime-package files simply are .zip archives with a custom file extension.

Installation of Packages from a Version Control System

Explaining how to use version control systems (VCSs) is outside the scope of this guide, but there are many user packages available free of charge on public repositories like GitHub and Bitbucket.

Also, a Sublime Text organization at GitHub is open to contributors.

Packages and Magic

Sublime Text deals with packages without much hidden magic. There are two notable exceptions: Macros defined in any package automatically appear under Tools | Macros | <Your Package>, and snippets from any package appear under Tools | Snippets | <Your Package>.

However, Sublime Text follows some rules for packages. For instance, Package/User will never be clobbered during updates to the software.

Merging and Order of Precedence

Packages/Default and Packages/User receive special treatment when merging files (e.g. .sublime-keymap and .sublime-settings files). Before merging can take place, the files have to be arranged in some order. To that end, Sublime Text sorts them alphabetically by name, with the exception of the Default and User folders. Files contained in Default will always go to the front of the list, and those in User, to the end.

Ignored Packages

To temporarily disable packages, you can add them to the ignored_packages list in your Packages/User/Preferences.sublime-settings file.

Restoring Packages

Sublime Text keeps a copy of all installed packages so it can recreate them as needed. This means it can reinstall core packages, shipped packages and, potentially, user packages alike. However, only user packages installed as sublime-packages are added to its registry of installed packages. Packages installed in alternative ways will be lost completely if you delete them.

Reverting Sublime Text to Its Default Configuration

To revert Sublime Text to its default configuration, delete the data directory and restart the editor. Keep in mind that the Installed Packages folder will be deleted too, so you’ll lose all your installed packages.

Always make sure to back up your data before taking an extreme measure like this one.

Reverting Sublime Text to a fresh state solves many problems that appear to be due to bugs in Sublime Text but are in fact caused by misbehaving plugins.

The Installed Packages Directory

You will find this folder in the data directory. It contains a copy of every sublime-package installed. It is used to restore Packages.