Edit and save files in a workspace

Sofia Emelianova
Sofia Emelianova

This tutorial offers a chance to practice by setting up a workspace so that you can use it in your own projects. Workspace lets you to save changes that you make within DevTools to source code that's stored on your computer.


Workspace lets you save a change that you make in DevTools to a local copy of the same file on your computer. For example, suppose:

  • You have the source code for your site on your desktop.
  • You're running a local web server from the source code directory, so that the site is accessible at localhost:8080.
  • You've got localhost:8080 open in Google Chrome, and you're using DevTools to change the site's CSS.

With workspace enabled, the CSS changes that you make within DevTools are saved to the source code on your desktop.


If you're using a modern framework, it probably transforms your source code from a format that's easy for you to maintain into a format that's optimized to run as quickly as possible. Workspace is usually able to map the optimized code back to your original source code with the help of source maps.

The DevTools community works to support the capabilities provided by source maps across a variety of frameworks and tools. If you run into issues while using a workspace with your framework of choice, or you get it working after some custom configuration, start a thread in the mailing list or ask a question on Stack Overflow to share your knowledge with the rest of the DevTools community.

Related feature: Local Overrides

Local overrides is another DevTools feature that is similar to workspace. Use local overrides to mock web content or request headers without waiting for backend changes or when you want to experiment with changes to a page, and you need to see those changes across page loads, but you don't care about mapping your changes to the page's source code.

Step 1: Setup

Complete this tutorial to get hands-on experience with a workspace.

Set up the demo

  1. Clone this demo repository to some directory on your computer. For example, to ~/Desktop.
  2. Start a local web server in ~/Desktop/devtools-workspace-demo. Below is some sample code for starting up SimpleHTTPServer, but you can use whatever server you prefer.

    cd ~/Desktop/devtools-workspace-demo
    # If your Python version is 3.X
    # On Windows, try "python -m http.server" or "py -3 -m http.server"
    python3 -m http.server
    # If your Python version is 2.X
    python -m SimpleHTTPServer

    For the rest of this tutorial this directory will be referred to as /devtools-workspace-demo.

  3. Open a tab in Google Chrome and go to locally-hosted version of the site. You should be able to access it via a URL like localhost:8000. The exact port number may be different.

    The locally-hosted demo page opened in Chrome.

Set up DevTools

  1. Open DevTools on the locally-hosted demo page.

  2. Navigate to Sources > Workspace and set up a workspace in the devtools-workspace-demo folder that you cloned. You can do that in several ways:

    • Drag and drop the folder into the Editor in Sources.
    • Click the select folder link and select the folder.
    • Click Add. Add folder and select the folder. The Sources then to Workspace tab.
  3. In the prompt at the top, click Allow to give DevTools permission to read and write to the directory.

    The Allow button in the prompt.

In the Workspace tab, there is now a green dot next to index.html, script.js, and styles.css. These green dots mean that DevTools has established a mapping between the network resources of the page, and the files in devtools-workspace-demo.

The Workspace tab now shows a mapping between the local files and the network ones.

Step 2: Save a CSS change to disk

  1. Open /devtools-workspace-demo/styles.css in a text editor. Notice how the color property of h1 elements is set to fuchsia.

    Viewing styles.css in a text editor.

  2. Close the text editor.

  3. Back in DevTools, click the Elements tab.

  4. Change the value of the color property of the <h1> element to your favorite color. To do so:

    1. Click the <h1> element in the DOM Tree.
    2. In the Styles pane, find the h1 { color: fuchsia } CSS rule and change the color to your favorite. In this example, the color is set to green.

    Setting the color property of the h1 element to green.

    The green dot The green dot. next to styles.css:1 in the Styles pane means that any change you make is mapped to /devtools-workspace-demo/styles.css.

  5. Open /devtools-workspace-demo/styles.css in a text editor again. The color property is now set to your favorite color.

  6. Reload. Reload the page. The color of the <h1> element is still set to your favorite color. This works because when you made the change and DevTools saved the change to disk. And then, when you reloaded the page, your local server served the modified copy of the file from disk.

Step 3: Save an HTML change to disk

Try changing HTML from the Elements panel

  1. Open the Elements tab.
  2. Double click the text content of the h1 element, which says Workspaces Demo, and replace it with I ❤️ Cake.

    Attempting to change HTML from the DOM Tree of the Elements panel.

  3. Open /devtools-workspace-demo/index.html in a text editor. The change that you just made isn't there.

  4. Reload. Reload the page. The page reverts to its original title.

Optional: Why it doesn't work

  • The tree of nodes that you see on the Elements panel represents the page's DOM.
  • To display a page, a browser fetches HTML over the network, parses the HTML, and then converts it into a tree of DOM nodes.
  • If the page has any JavaScript, that JavaScript may add, delete, or change DOM nodes. CSS can change the DOM, too, via the content property.
  • The browser eventually uses the DOM to determine what content it should present to browser users.
  • Therefore, the final state of the page that users see may be very different from the HTML that the browser fetched.
  • This makes it difficult for DevTools to resolve where a change made in the Elements panel should be saved, because the DOM is affected by HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.

In short, the DOM Tree !== HTML.

Change HTML from the Sources panel

If you want to save a change to the page's HTML, do it in the Sources panel.

  1. Navigate to Sources > Page.
  2. Click (index). The HTML for the page opens.
  3. Replace <h1>Workspaces Demo</h1> with <h1>I ❤️ Cake</h1>.
  4. Press Command+S (Mac) or Control+S (Windows, Linux, ChromeOS) to save the change.
  5. Reload. Reload the page. The <h1> element is still displaying the new text.

    Changing HTML from the Sources panel.

  6. Open /devtools-workspace-demo/index.html. The <h1> element contains the new text.

Step 4: Save a JavaScript change to disk

The Sources panel is also the place to make changes to JavaScript. But sometimes you need to access other panels, such as the Elements panel or the Console panel, while making changes to your site. There's a way to have the Sources panel open alongside other panels.

  1. Open the Elements tab.
  2. Press Command+Shift+P (Mac) or Control+Shift+P (Windows, Linux, ChromeOS). The Command Menu opens.
  3. Type QS, then select Show Quick Source. At the bottom of your DevTools window there is now a Quick Source tab.

    Opening the Quick Source tab via Command Menu.

    The tab is displaying the contents of index.html, which is the last file you edited in the Sources panel. The Quick Source tab gives you the editor from the Sources panel, so that you can edit files while having other panels open.

  4. Press Command+P (Mac) or Control+P (Windows, Linux, ChromeOS) to open the Open File dialog.

  5. Type script, then select devtools-workspace-demo/script.js.

    Opening script via the Open File dialog.

  6. Notice the Edit and save files in a workspace link in the demo. It's styled regularly.

  7. Add the following code to the bottom of script.js in the Quick Source tab.

    document.querySelector('a').style = 'font-style:italic';
  8. Press Command+S (Mac) or Control+S (Windows, Linux, ChromeOS) to save the change.

  9. Reload. Reload the page. The link on the page is now italic.

The link on the page is now italic.

Next steps

You can set up multiple folders in a workspace. All such folders are listed in Settings > Workspace.

Next, learn how to use DevTools to change CSS and debug JavaScript.