Here is a list of 6 Visual Studio tweaks you can do to make your development experience much better:

Show shortcut keys in screen tips:

Go to Tools->Customize and choose the Toolbars Tab. This screen pops up-

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check the “Show Shortcut Keys in Screen Tips” Checkbox.

Now, when you put your mouse on a toolbar button, a tooltip with the operation shortcut appears. This is very useful since you can see what the keyboard shortcuts are and you don’t have to remember all of them by heart (read about 10 Visual Studio Shortcuts You Must Know). This is how it looks:

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Show line numbers:

If you want to see your code with line numbers, go to Tools->Options->TextEditor->C# and check the “Line Numbers” checkbox.

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Put conditions on breakpoints:

There is a possibility to tell the debugger not to stop on a breakpoint every time. You can add a condition to the breakpoint and the debugger will stop there only when this condition is met. This is very useful when debugging a code that is continuously called (by a timer, …). All you need to do is right click on a specific breakpoint, choose Condition and the following window appears:

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As you can see there are two radio button options:

  • Is true: You can write any code that would compile inside an If statement and the debugger will stop only when this code returns true.
  • Has changed: The debugger will stop only when the specified variable has changed.

Locate in solution explorer:

When your solution contains many projects with many files, it may be difficult to locate the edited file in the solution explorer. By default, there is no selected item in the solution explorer. To change that default behavior, go to Tools->Options->Projects and Solutions and check the “Track Active Item in Solution explorer” checkbox.

Open XAML instead of designer:

When opening windows forms file- the designer is opened, when opening XAML (WPF) file- the designer and the XML editor are opened with half and half layout. In Visual Studio 2005, you may find the WPF designer very annoying (it may be very slow and it doesn’t function properly) and you want only the XML editor to open when a XAML file is loaded. What do you do? right click on the file in the solution explorer, choose the “Open with” menu item. Choose XML Editor option and click on the Set As Default button:

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Show output window when build starts:

In order to have the output window opened every time a build starts, go to Tools->Options->Projects and Solutions and check the “Show Output window when build starts” checkbox:

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That’s it, I hope you found this list interesting and helpful. Do you know more Visual Studio tweaks? That would be great if you could add your comments and extend this list for the usage of us all… What do you say?

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11 Responses to “6 Useful Visual Studio Tweaks You Need To Know”


  1. Martin Rosén-Lidholm

    Said on May 9, 2008 :

    I already had those settings (except for the XAML stuff which I currently don’t use), so I guess I’ll have to agree :-)

    I’m a TDD guy who tries (pretty hard) to avoid the debugger, but today (prior to reading this post) I actually used conditional breakpoints a few times (unfortunately).

    /Martin R-L

  2. Jason

    Said on May 9, 2008 :

    Nice tips. Thanks!

  3. Will Asrari

    Said on May 9, 2008 :

    Breakpoint conditions for the win!

  4. raj

    Said on May 10, 2008 :

    loved the first tip – Show shortcut keys in screen tips

    was not aware this existed… thnx for this

  5. Chris

    Said on October 21, 2008 :

    Never knew about the conditional breakpoints. Thanks for the tip!

  6. shivakumar

    Said on November 2, 2011 :

    Very Good points i like.

  7. ???

    Said on March 27, 2014 :

    Link exchange is nothing else except it is just placing the other person’s website link on your page at appropriate place
    and other person will also do similar in support of you.

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