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Visual Studio Settings

Visual Studio settings define different aspects of the way Visual Studio looks and feels. They can be changed for different kinds of development activities. For example, you can change settings such as tool window visibility, window layouts, placement of menu commands, menu names, project templates, and keyboard shortcuts.

When you first start Visual Studio, you must select one of the predefined settings collections to match a particular type of development. If you are upgrading from an earlier edition of Visual Studio, you can apply your current settings by selecting My Previous Settings. Every time that you change a setting, the change is automatically saved, by default, in the Currentsettings.vssettings file. Visual Studio applies your active settings automatically every time that you start the application.

For more information about different settings in Visual Studio, see the following topics.

Visual Basic SettingsVisual Basic Concepts
Visual C++ SettingsGetting Started with Visual C++
General Development SettingsVisual Studio - Configuring the Development Environment
Visual Web Developer SettingsBuilding ASP .NET Web Applications in Visual Studio

You can change most Visual Studio settings. For example, if a settings collection hides pages in the Options dialog box, you can display those pages manually by selecting Show all settings. However, you cannot override some predefined settings unless you apply a different collection. For more information about how to apply different settings collections, see How to: Change Select Settings.

You can replace all your active settings or just some of them. you can replace all your active settings By importing a .vssettings file that contains all possible settings categories, or by applying another settings collection. You can replace only selected settings and leave your other active settings intact by importing a .vssettings file that contains a subset of settings categories, or by clearing settings categories in an imported .vssettings file,.

You can migrate your settings from an earlier release of Visual Studio to a later one, or to a different Visual Studio SKU.


It may not be possible to migrate all your settings. For example, if you try to migrate settings from a Visual Studio Express edition to a different Visual Studio edition, not all of them would migrate, because the express edition does not have the same features. Similarly, if a settings category has changed between releases, those settings may not migrate correctly.

If you have different versions of Visual Studio installed on the same computer, you may be able to have your settings applied on a different version. The first time that you start Visual Studio, the following option may be displayed: Migrate my eligible settings from a previous version and apply them in addition to the default settings selected below. Select this option to migrate your settings such as custom IntelliSense code snippet paths and snippets that are located in the \Code Snippets\ folder. For more information, see Choose Default Environment Settings Dialog Box.


Team settings cannot be migrated.

You can also migrate your settings manually by using the Import and Export Settings wizard. For more information, see How to: Share Settings Between Computers or Visual Studio Versions.

Some settings may contain information about you or your computer. For example, if you have customized the IDE to save projects to a network share, the path of that share is tracked in your settings file. If you export this file to share with others, anyone who imported your settings would also be pointed to this network share. That could pose a risk to your intellectual property.

An icon is displayed next to the settings that may be risky, such as External Tools Lists and Command Window Aliases.

General Development Settings

Explains the features of the most general settings category.

How to: Share Settings Between Computers or Visual Studio Versions

Shows how to export settings from one computer to be imported for use on another computer that is running Visual Studio.

How to: Change Select Settings

Shows how to import a subset of settings from another settings combination and then apply those settings to customize the IDE.

How to: Specify Settings for a Team

Shows how to have multiple computers apply the same settings every time that Visual Studio is started.

How to: Reset Your Settings

Shows how to overwrite your current settings by using a new settings combination.

Import and Export Settings, Environment, Options Dialog Box

Describes how you can customize the settings feature.