I am looking for the general name of the component that a lot of IDEs use. Examples:

It is usually opened with CTRL+P and displays a searchbar together with a list of files. But it can also be used to search for settings etc. It is not modal and closes if unfocused.

quick open in vscode

2 Answers 2


The general pattern is referred to as a "typeahead search".

Typeahead is a feature of computers and software (and some typewriters) that enables users to continue typing regardless of program or computer operation—the user may type in whatever speed is desired, and if the receiving software is busy at the time it will be called to handle this later.
Wikipedia, retrieved 2020-04-27

Instead of making the user complete their input before seeing results, the user's input triggers repeated searches that update automatically while the user types. This pattern is designed to to reduce the distance between the user and the resource for which they're searching.

Chris Griffith is correct that VS Code uses this typeahead search as the interface for their Command Palette.

  • I'm not sure "typeahead" gives a complete description of the component - it uses typeahead for sure, but more than just searching for and opening files it's also used to find and execute commands in the application, as well as editing settings. Selecting some items even open a sort of wizard flow to perform more complex actions. I think the original question indicates that a term for this type of ui component should describe this functionality as well. Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 12:38
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    @DanielMolin I took the question to be more focused on what the UI component was called, rather than what it's used for in this particular example. It seemed like OP was already familiar with how it's used in the text editor, but you are welcome to add another answer that addresses these points. Commented Apr 29, 2020 at 13:04

In VS Code they refer to it as the Command Palette.

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