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Tool Windows, Begone

While all of the tool windows in Visual Studio (Solution Explorer, Properties, Debug) are wonderfully useful, the main editor/document window where your code lives is the one that matters.

You can instantly give yourself a document window that completely fills Visual Studio by selecting Auto Hide All from the Windows menu. This causes every (every!) tool window to turn into little labels hugging the borders of Visual Studio and popping out only when you want them (or when Visual Studio thinks you should want them). If you can't find Auto Hide All, it's because you've already closed or hidden your tool windows.

There is a downside to this: There's no "Restore to my last setting" option on the Windows menu so, you'll have to get used to having every (every!) tool window in autohide mode. You can get back to the default window layout for your configuration of Visual Studio by selecting Reset Window Layout from the Windows menu, but you won't get any customizations you've made to that setup.

There doesn't seem to be a way to save your favorite layout as the "default layout" that the reset menu choice restores. The only way to get back to your personal settings would be to have exported your settings at some point in the past and re-import them using the Tools | Import and Export Settings menu choice -- which seems like an awful lot of work (and not very speedy, either).

[Click on image for larger view.]
Figure 1. Big Editing Window. Auto Hide All opens up all the interior space inside the Visual Studio window for you to edit code.

But as I said, you get all of that editing space....

Do you have a Visual Studio tip you'd like to share? Send it to me at phvogel@1105media.com.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 03/22/2011 at 1:16 PM

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Reader Comments:

Fri, Apr 15, 2011 Peter Vogel Canada

Bob: That's a great tip! I don't usually remember three key combinations but this one is great.

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 Bob Iowa

Try using Shift/Alt/Enter. It maximizes the editor window and hides almost everything else. Type it again to restore your screen to its previous state.

Fri, Apr 1, 2011 Peter Vogel Canada

JB: You know, back when I had a desktop and had to work in one place, I considered that solution: mount a huge TV on the wall across from my desk. I lacked the chutzpah to try it before I went to my laptop. I suppose, though, there's nothing stopping me from wiring my laptop up to the flat screen in the family room and experimenting with that now, though, is there?

Tue, Mar 29, 2011 JB Oregon

Multiple monitors is...messy. Try a single big TV instead. I've been using a 46" Sony LCD for a couple years now, it is a complete joy to work on.

Sat, Mar 26, 2011 Peter Vogel Canada

Pulling tabs away is a great strategy, especially in Visual Studio 2008/10 where there's some hope that you'll be able to dock it back in the right place. On the other hand, as an independent consultant, I've given up on a desktop (I have a great laptop and work wherever I want). Multiple monitor support wasn't a big deal to me. But, I have to admit, the one thing that tempts me to return to a desktop and working in one place all the time is having multiple monitors. I can already see creating a "second monitor window" quartered up into a set of useful tool windows (probably output, test, debug,...and one other pick to be selected later).

Thu, Mar 24, 2011

Two words: multiple monitors.

Thu, Mar 24, 2011 dotnetnutty Bath UK

An alternative to auto-hide is just to pull the tab away and maximise it. You can re-dock it when done. @dotnetnutty

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 Dan

Really? You mean those dockable windows can be hidden? You're kidding?! Really? Wow, I never would have imagined.

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