How to: Arrange and Dock Windows

The integrated development environment (IDE) contains two kinds of windows, tool windows and document windows. You can adjust the viewing and editing space for code, depending on how you arrange the windows in the IDE. The following options are just some of the ways that windows can be arranged:

  • Pin document windows to the left of the tab well.

  • Tab-dock windows to the editing frame.

  • Dock tool windows to the edge of a frame in the IDE.

  • Float windows over or outside the IDE.

  • Hide tool windows along the edge of the IDE.

  • Display windows on different monitors.

  • Reset window placement to the default layout.

Tool and document windows can be arranged by dragging, by using commands on the Window menu, and by right-clicking the title bar of the window to be arranged. Toolbars can be arranged by dragging, or by using the Customize dialog box. For more information about how to position toolbars, see How to: Customize Menus and Toolbars (Visual Studio).

Note Note

Your computer might show different names or locations for some of the Visual Studio user interface elements in the following instructions. The Visual Studio edition that you have and the settings that you use determine these elements. For more information, see Customizing Development Settings.

You can undock any tool window or document window from its default location in the IDE and move that window anywhere on the desktop or to another monitor. You can dock multiple tool and document windows together in a “raft” and then move them as a unit anywhere on the desktop or to another monitor.

If two document windows appear at the same time, both are updated when you edit content in either.

To position a tool window or document window outside the IDE

  • Drag the window to the location you want.

To return a tool window or document window to its most recent docked location

  • Press CTRL while you double-click the title bar of the window.

    Note Note

    Double-clicking the title bar of a window outside the IDE without pressing CTRL maximizes the window.

By default, designer windows and editor windows that display documents are arranged on tabbed panes in the editing frame of the IDE. A guide diamond appears when you drag an editor or designer window to another location to help you easily re-dock the window.

Guide diamond for designer and editor windows

Document Window Guide Diamond

Tool windows can be fastened to one side of a frame in the IDE or within the editing frame. A guide diamond appears when you drag a tool window to another location to help you to easily re-dock the window.

Guide diamond for tool windows

Tool Window Guide Diamonds

To dock tool windows and document windows

  1. Click the tool window or document window you want to dock.

  2. Drag the window toward the middle of the IDE.

    Tip Tip

    To move a dockable window without snapping it into place, choose the Ctrl key while you drag the window.

    A guide diamond appears. The four arrows of the diamond point toward the four sides of the editing pane. If the window is a tool window, an additional four arrows point to the four edges of the IDE.

  3. When the window you are dragging reaches the location where you want to dock it, move the pointer over the corresponding portion of the guide diamond. The designated area is shaded.

  4. To dock the window in the position indicated, release the mouse button.

    For example, if Solution Explorer is docked on the right edge of the IDE and you want to dock it on the left edge, drag Solution Explorer toward the middle of the IDE, move the pointer over the far left arrow of the guide diamond, and then release the mouse button.

    Alternatively, you can dock a tool window to a portion of one of the side walls of the IDE by dragging it to the side until you see a secondary guide diamond. Click one of the four arrows to dock the tool window to that portion of the side wall.

Tool windows support a feature named Auto Hide. Auto Hide causes a window to slide out of the way when you use a different window. When a window is auto-hidden, its name appears on a tab at the edge of the IDE. To use the window again, point to the tab so that the window slides back into view.

To use Auto Hide

  • On the menu bar, choose Window, Auto Hide to turn Auto Hide on or off.

    As an alternative, you can click the pushpin icon on the title bar of the window. The pushpin icon resembles the following graphic when Auto Hide is enabled.

    Auto Hide Enabled

    AutoHide Button, Active State

    The pushpin icon resembles the following graphic when Auto Hide is disabled.

    Auto Hide Disabled

    AutoHide Button, Inactive State
Note Note

To set whether Auto Hide operates on tool windows individually or as docked groups, select or clear Auto Hide button affects active tool windows only in the Options dialog box. For more information, see General, Environment, Options Dialog Box.

Note Note

Tool windows that have Auto Hide enabled may temporarily slide into view when the window has focus. To hide the window again, select an item outside of the current window. When the window loses focus, it slides back out of view.

If you have a second monitor and your operating system supports it, you can choose which monitor displays a window. You can even group multiple windows together in “rafts” on other monitors.

Tip Tip

You can create multiple instances of Solution Explorer and move them to another monitor. Right-click the window and choose New Solution Explorer View.

To move windows to different monitors

  1. Use the Display settings in the Control Panel to set up a multiple monitor configuration. For more information, see Windows Help.

  2. In Visual Studio, drag the tool window or document window to the other monitor.

You can return all windows back to the original monitor by double-clicking while choosing the Ctrl key.

You can return the IDE to the original window layout for your settings collection by using the Reset Window Layout command. When you run this command, the following actions occur:

  • All windows are moved to their default positions.

  • Windows that are closed in the default window layout are closed.

  • Windows that are open in the default window layout are opened.

You can specify a different default window layout by modifying your current settings. For more information, see How to: Change Select Settings.

To reset window placement to the default layout

  1. On the Windows menu, click Reset Window Layout.

  2. In the message box, click Yes.

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