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How to: Arrange and Dock Windows 

The integrated development environment (IDE) has two types of windows: tool windows and document windows. You can increase the viewing and editing space for code, depending on how you arrange the windows in the IDE. You have many options for arranging windows within the IDE, including the following:

  • Tab-dock document windows.

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

  • Minimize tool windows along the edge of the IDE.

  • Display windows on different monitors.

  • Tile document windows.

  • Reset window placement to the default layout.

For more information about the differences between tool and document windows, see Window Types.

NoteNote

The dialog boxes and menu commands you see might differ from those described in Help depending on your active settings or edition. To change your settings, choose Import and Export Settings on the Tools menu. For more information, see Visual Studio Settings.

Docking Windows

Editor windows that display documents can be arranged on tabbed panes within the editing frame of the IDE.

To dock editor windows

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.

  2. Expand the Environment folder, and then select General.

    The General, Environment, Options Dialog Box opens.

  3. Under Window layout, select the Tabbed documents option.

    When this option is set, documents opened in instances of the editor are automatically arranged on tabbed panes.

When a tool window is dockable, it can be fastened to one side of a frame within the IDE. A guide diamond appears when you drag tool windows from their current location to another location in the IDE. The guide diamond allows you to quickly re-dock a tool window on one of the four sides of the IDE. When a tool window is undocked or not dockable, it floats on top of the other windows.

To dock tool windows

  1. Click the tool window you want to dock, to give it focus.

  2. On the Window menu, click Dockable.

  3. Drag the tool window from its current location towards the middle of the IDE.

    A guide diamond appears. The four arrows of the diamond point towards the four edges of the IDE.

    NoteTip

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

  4. When the window you are dragging reaches the position where you want to dock it, move the pointer over the corresponding portion of the guide diamond. An outline of the window appears in the designated area.

  5. 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, you would drag Solution Explorer towards the middle of the IDE, move the pointer over the left side of the guide diamond, and then release the mouse button.

Minimizing Tool Windows

Tool windows, all of which appear on the View menu, support a feature called Auto Hide. Auto Hide enables you to see more of your code at one time by minimizing tool windows along the edges of the IDE when not in use. Auto Hide is only available in multiple documents mode.

To turn on Auto Hide

  • Click the window you want to hide to give it focus.

  • On the Window menu, click Auto Hide.

    — or —

    Click the pushpin icon on the title bar of the window.

Auto Hide Enabled
AutoHideButtonActive screenshot

When an auto-hidden window loses focus, it automatically slides back to its tab on the edge of the IDE. While a window is auto-hidden, its name and icon are visible on a tab at the edge of the IDE. To display an auto-hidden window, move your pointer over the tab. The window slides back into view and is ready for use.

To turn off Auto Hide

  • Click the window you want to keep visible to give it focus.

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

    — or —

    Click the pushpin icon on the title bar of the window.

Auto Hide Disabled
AutoHideOffSymbol screenshot

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

AutoHideInAction screenshot
NoteTip

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

To enable Auto Hide for tool windows

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.

  2. Expand the Environment folder, and then select General.

    The General, Environment, Options Dialog Box opens.

  3. Under Window Layout, select the Multiple documents option.

  4. Select OK, then close and restart Visual Studio.

    When Visual Studio operates in multiple documents mode, tool windows can be minimized along the edges of the IDE.

  5. While in Multiple documents mode, select the tool window you want to dock, and follow the previous procedures "To dock tool windows."

    NoteTip

    To move a dockable window without snapping it into place, press CTRL while dragging it across the monitor screen.

  6. Right-click the docked tool window and then click Auto Hide. The window slides back to its tab on the edge of the IDE.

  7. To display the window, move the pointer over its tab on the IDE frame.

    NoteNote

    To determine whether Auto Hide operates on tool windows individually or as docked groups, see the Auto Hide button affects active tool windows only option in the General, Environment, Options Dialog Box.

Specifying a Monitor

If you have a second monitor and your platform supports using it, you can choose which monitor to display windows on.

To place tool windows on different monitors

  1. Use the Display settings in the Control Panel to set up your multiple monitor configurations. See Windows Help for more information.

  2. Drag the tool window to the other monitor. This option is only available on platforms that support multiple monitors.

Tiling Document Windows

If you want to view more than one document at a time while 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.

    — or —

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

Resetting Window Layouts

You can return the IDE to the original window layout for your settings collection 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 by the command.

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

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.

See Also

Reference

Window Types

Other Resources

Window Management

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