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Solution Explorer

Solution Explorer provides you with an organized view of your projects and their files as well as ready access to the commands that pertain to them. A toolbar associated with this window offers commonly used commands for the item you highlight in the list. To access Solution Explorer, select Solution Explorer on the View menu. For more information, see Using Solution Explorer.

NoteNote

The options available in dialog boxes, and the names and locations of menu commands you see, might differ from what is described in Help depending on your active settings or edition. This Help page was written with the General Development settings in mind. To view or change your settings, choose Import and Export Settings on the Tools menu. For more information, see Visual Studio Settings.

Tree View

This standard Solution Explorer view presents the active solution as a logical container for one or more projects and the items associated with them. You can open project items for modification and perform other management tasks directly from this view. Because different projects store items in different ways, the folder structure in Solution Explorer does not necessarily reflect the physical storage of the items listed. For more information, see Item Management in Projects.

When the Track Active Item in Solution Explorer option is selected in the General, Projects and Solutions, Options Dialog Box, Solution Explorer automatically opens the folder for the active item, scrolls to its tree view node, and selects its name. The selected item changes as you work with different files within a project or solution, or different components within an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) designer. When this option is cleared, the selection in Solution Explorer does not change automatically.

To associate a file with a solution but not with a specific project, add the file directly to the solution. A new node for the added file will then appear within the Solution Items folder. Other files not yet associated either with the active solution or with any of its projects are placed in the Miscellaneous Files folder. These are generally files opened or created on your local drive while working with a project.

NoteNote

To display all miscellaneous files in tree view, select Show miscellaneous files in Solution Explorer in the Documents, Environment, Options Dialog Box.

Project in Bold Font

A project shown in bold font is selected as the Startup Project for running and debugging purposes. If there is more than one startup project, the solution node in the tree view is shown in bold font. Startup projects run automatically when you start the Visual Studio debugger. By default, the first project created in the solution is designated as the startup project, but you can change which projects run first when you build or run your solution For more information, see How to: Set Startup Projects.

When the Only build startup projects and dependencies on Run option is selected in the Build and Run, Projects and Solutions, Options Dialog Box , only the startup project and its dependencies are built when you:

  • Press F5 or choose the Start command from the Debug menu

    —or—

  • Press Control+Shift+B or choose the Build Solution command from the Build menu.

When this option is cleared, either of these actions builds all projects, dependencies, and solution files.

Solution in Bold Font

A solution shown in bold font indicates that the option to run multiple projects when the debugger starts is enabled. Although the option is enabled, it does not mean that any projects have been selected to run; by default, they are set not to run.

For more information about running multiple projects when you start the debugger, see Startup Project, Common Properties, Solution Property Pages Dialog Box.

Commands

You can open files, add and remove items, and perform other management tasks. Each project template provides its own folders and icons for indicating the nature of the items in the project. You can add folders and items to meet the needs of your individual development project. The icons can indicate a variety of information about an item. For example, depending on the project, you might see an icon indicating that an item is an HTML file or that a file is under source control. Each project template also determines which tools and designers are associated with a file type as well as the commands available for item management.

Selection

Selecting a solution, project, or item in the list dynamically updates the commands that are available to you. For example, the Copy Web command is available only from Solution Explorer's toolbar if a Web application is selected in the list. You can double-click a file to display it in the designer, tool, or editor associated with the file's type. You can change the default editor for some file types by right-clicking the file and then choosing Open With on the shortcut menu.

Multiple-selection

You can select multiple items in a single project or multiple items spanning several projects. Select multiple items when you want to perform batch operations (simultaneously opening multiple files for editing, for example) or when you want to determine or edit the intersecting properties of two or more solution items. When you select multiple items, the available commands represent the intersection of commands common to all selected items.

For more information about specific projects, select one of the following links.

TopicLocation
How to: Create Logical Datacenter Diagrams (Team Edition for Architects)Visual Studio Enterprise - Logical Datacenter Designer
Blank Solution TemplateVisual Studio - Developing Solutions and Projects
Default Project Templates in Visual StudioVisual Studio - Developing Solutions and Projects
New Web Site Dialog BoxVisual Web Developer
Smart Device DevelopmentSmart Device Projects
Visual C++ ProjectsVisual C++ Development Environment Reference
How to: Create Application DiagramsVisual Studio Enterprise - Application Designer
Extensibility ProjectsVisual Studio Automation - Core Extensibility
Setup and Deployment ProjectsDeployment in Visual Studio
Office Project TemplatesVisual Studio Tools for Office Reference
Setup and Deployment ProjectsDeployment in Visual Studio
Smart Device Development
Extensibility Projects
Visual C++ Projects
How to: Create Application Diagrams
How to: Create Logical Datacenter Diagrams
Blank Solution Template
Default Project Templates in Visual Studio
Office Project TemplatesVisual Studio Tools for Office Reference
New Web Site Dialog Box
How to: Create a WPF UserControl Library Project
Working with Controls in the WPF Designer
How to: Create a New WPF Browser Application Project
Creating WPF Applications
Setup and Deployment ProjectsASP.NET Extensions for e-dv_deploy_msi
Smart Device DevelopmentVisual Studio
Extensibility ProjectsVisual Studio Automation - Core Extensibility
Visual C++ Project TypesVisual C++ Development Environment Reference
Blank Solution TemplateVisual Studio - Developing Solutions and Projects
Default Project Templates in Visual StudioVisual Studio - Developing Solutions and Projects
How to: Create a New WPF Browser Application ProjectWPF Designer
How to: Create a WPF UserControl Library ProjectWPF Designer
Working with Controls in the WPF DesignerWPF Designer
New Web Site Dialog BoxVisual Web Developer
How to: Create a New WPF Browser Application Project
New Web Site Dialog Box
How to: Create a WPF UserControl Library Project
Working with Controls in the WPF Designer
Extensibility Projects
Visual C++ Project Types
Default Project Templates in Visual Studio
Extensibility Projects
Visual C++ Project Types
Creating Projects from Templates
New Web Site Dialog Box

Toolbar Icons

Only buttons specific to the item selected in the list appear on the Solution Explorer toolbar. For example, if you select an .asax file, a set of buttons appears on the toolbar. However, if you select an .asp file, only the Properties button appears. Because the selected project determines the toolbar icons, this list is a partial representation of those you might encounter while working in Solution Explorer.

Properties

Properties

Displays the appropriate property user interface for the selected item in the tree view.

Show All Files

SolutionExplorerShowAllFilesSymbol screenshot

Shows all project items, including those that have been excluded and those that are normally hidden.

Refresh

RefreshSEButton screenshot

Refreshes the state of the items in the selected project or solution.

NoteTip

If you are a member of a development team working with shared project files that are merged and kept under source control, select this button to display the current state of the files included in your active solution.

Nest Related Files
Nest Related Files

Establishes a parent and child hierarchy in Solution Explorer for files that depend on one another in Web-related projects. For example, the two files that make up Web forms would be nested together.

View Class Diagram
View Class Diagram

Launches Class Designer to display a diagram of the classes in the current project. For more information, see Designing Classes and Types.

Copy Web Site

Solution Explorer Copy Protection Symbol

Opens the Copy Web Project dialog box for copying an entire Web project or collection of Web projects between Web servers. You can also duplicate a Web project on the same server under a new name. This command is available only when a Web project is selected. For more information, see How to: Copy Web Site Files with the Copy Web Site Tool.

Open

Open Linked File Button

Opens the selected item in the default editor for that item as determined by the project template. You can change the default editor for a given file type in the Open With dialog box; right-click on the file in Solution Explorer and choose Open With on the shortcut menu. For more information, see Open With Dialog Box.

View Code

Solution Explorer View Code Symbol

Opens the selected file for editing in the Code Editor.

View Designer
View Designer

Opens the selected file for editing in the designer mode of the Code Editor.

ASP.NET Configuration
ASP.NET Configuration

Displays the ASP.NET Web Site Administration Tool.

Add New Solution Folder

Add New Solution Folder

Adds a Solution Folder to the selected item. You can add a Solution Folder to the solution or to an existing Solution Folder.

Unhide All

Unhides all hidden Solution Folders and projects in the solution.

Source Control Icons

Source controlled items contain special icons to reflect their status. For more information, see How to: Identify Source Control Item Status in Solution Explorer.

See Also

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