Practical .NET

Getting to the File You Want in Visual Studio's Editor Window

Peter gets an improved tip from one reader and some more tips from another, all designed to navigate Visual Studio faster.

In an earlier tip I described how, no matter where your cursor was, by repeatedly hitting the Escape key you would eventually move your cursor back to the editor window (with a few exceptions). I also noted that, once your cursor was back in the editor window, you could use Ctrl+F6 to cycle through all the open tabs.

In a comment to that column, a reader pointed out that Ctrl+Tab gives you the best of both worlds because Ctrl+Tab brings up a list of all the currently open files. Once that list is up, you can use the arrow keys to move to whatever window or open file you want to…as long as you keep your finger on the Control key. If, on the other hand, you just take your finger off the Control key, your cursor moves to the editor window.

I think that's probably a much better tip than mine. It's one I'll start using, at any rate.

Another reader listed off some additional key combinations for moving to specific windows that are too useful to omit (and none of which I knew about):

  • Ctrl + [ + S: Switch to the Solution Explorer and select the currently active file (you don't have to hold down the [ key while hitting the S key)
  • Ctrl + \ + E: Show the Error List (again, you don't have to hold down the \ key while hitting the E key)
  • Ctrl+Shift+B: Build solution
  • Ctrl+Shift+A: Add a new file

The Control key gets you where you want to be.

About the Author

Peter Vogel is a system architect and principal in PH&V Information Services. PH&V provides full-stack consulting from UX design through object modeling to database design. Peter tweets about his VSM columns with the hashtag #vogelarticles. His blog posts on user experience design can be found at

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