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Dealing with Read-Only Files

It's easy to miss that you've opened a read-only file in Visual Studio: When you open a file you can't change, a tiny little lock icon appears on the tab of the editor window to the right of the file's name. By default, Visual Studio won't even tell you that you can't change the file until -- after you've made all your changes, of course -- you try to save the file. Only then do you get the bad news with a dialog that gives you three choices:

  • You can create a new file
  • Attempt to overwrite the file (that is, attempt to make the file writeable)
  • Cancel and go back to the file which holds a ton of changes you can't save

Notice the absence of a "Oh , just throw everything away" option.

If you'd prefer to know about this problem before you start making your changes then you just need to set an option in Visual Studio. Go to Tools | Options | Environment | Documents and uncheck the option called "Allow editing of read-only files; warn when attempt to save."

Now, when you start to make changes a read only file you'll get that dialog box asking if you want to create a new file, make the file writeable, or cancel. This time, the cancel option will return you to a file that you haven't invested any time in.

By the way, and for the record, the "make writeable" option never works. It's just there to give you hope ... and then crush it.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 06/20/2018


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