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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:

  • 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.

  • Minimize tool windows along the edge of the IDE.

  • Display windows on different monitors.

  • Tile windows in the editing frame.

  • 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).

NoteNote

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 Working with Settings.

Any tool window or document window can be undocked from the IDE and moved anywhere on the desktop. If two related document windows are displayed at the same time, both are updated when the content is edited 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.

    NoteNote

    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.

Tool windows can be fastened to one side of a frame in the IDE. A guide diamond appears when you drag a tool window to another location in the IDE. The guide diamond helps you re-dock the window on one of the four sides of the IDE, or to a location in the editing frame.

NoteNote

To move a dockable window without snapping it into place, press CTRL while you drag it.

The following diagram shows the guide diamonds that appear when you drag a tool window or document window toward the center of the IDE. The diamond on the right edge only appears when you drag a tool window toward the edge of the IDE.

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.

    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, the names of which appear on the View menu, 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 and icon are displayed on a tab at the edge of the IDE. To use the window again, move the pointer over the tab so that it slides back into view.

To turn on Auto Hide

  1. Click the window you want to hide.

  2. On the Window menu, click Auto Hide.

    As an alternative, you can click the pushpin icon on the title bar of the window.

Auto Hide Enabled

AutoHideButtonActive screenshot

To turn off Auto Hide

  1. Click the window you want to keep visible.

  2. On the Window menu, click Auto Hide to clear the check mark.

    As an alternative, you can click the pushpin icon on the title bar of the window.

Auto Hide Disabled

AutoHideOffSymbol screenshot
NoteNote

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.

You can control the speed at which these transitions occur. For more information, see General, Environment, Options Dialog Box.

NoteNote

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.

To put tool windows on 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.

If you want to view more than one document at a time while you are editing code, you can tile the document windows.

To tile document windows

  • If the IDE is running in Tabbed documents mode, select a tab and drag it below or above the current document tile. A rectangular outline appears in the location where the new document tile will be placed.

  • If the IDE is set to use the Multiple documents window layout, on the Windows menu, click Tile Horizontally or Tile Vertically. For more information, see General, Environment, Options Dialog Box.

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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