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How to Unlock Visual Studio

Visual Studio 2013

You can personalize and optimize your development experience in Visual Studio if you sign in to it by using a Microsoft account.

You gain the following benefits by signing in to Visual Studio.

  • Synchronizes your Visual Studio settings – Settings that you customize, such as key bindings and color theme, apply immediately when you sign in to Visual Studio on any another device. See Synchronized Settings in Visual Studio.

  • Permanently unlocks the Visual Studio Express edition –You can use any edition of Visual Studio Express for as long as you like, instead of being limited to the trial period of 30 days.

  • Extends the Visual Studio trial period – You can use Visual Studio Professional, Visual Studio Premium, or Visual Studio Ultimate for 120 days, instead of being limited to the trial period of 30 days.

  • Unlocks Visual Studio if you use a Microsoft account that's associated with MSDN –If your Microsoft account is associated with your MSDN account, your copy of Visual Studio is automatically unlocked. See MSDN Subscriptions.

  • Automatically connects to Team Foundation Service – You no longer need to enter credentials to connect to any of your team accounts for Team Foundation Service.

When you start Visual studio for the first time, you're asked to sign in to a Microsoft account, such as Live or Hotmail, and provide some basic registration information. You should choose a Microsoft account that best represents you. If you already have an MSDN account, it's recommended that you sign in with its associated Microsoft account. If you don't have a Microsoft account, you can create one for free. See How do I sign up for a Microsoft account?

Next, choose the UI settings and color theme that you want to use in Visual Studio. Visual Studio remembers these settings and synchronizes them with any other system on which you run Visual Studio. For a list of the settings that are synchronized, see Synchronized Settings in Visual Studio. You can change the settings later if you open the Options menu in Visual Studio.

After you provide the settings, Visual Studio starts, and you're signed in and ready to get started. To verify whether you're signed in, look for your name in the upper-right corner of the Visual Studio environment.

Account Settings Command

Unless you sign out, you'll be automatically signed in to Visual Studio whenever you start it, and any changes to synchronized settings are automatically applied. To sign out, choose the down arrow next to your name in the Visual Studio environment, choose the Account settings command, and then choose the Sign out link. To sign in again, choose the Sign in command in the upper-right corner of the Visual Studio environment.

When you sign in to Visual Studio, any customized settings, such as the UI theme and keyboard shortcuts, are stored and synchronized with other systems on which you run Visual Studio. For a list of the settings that are stored, see Synchronized Settings in Visual Studio.

Also, when you sign in to Visual Studio, two commands appear on the menu next to your name: Connect to Team Foundation Server and Account Settings. The Connect to Team Foundation Server command displays the Connect page in the Team Explorer window, so that you can choose your Team Foundation Service projects. If you have an active connection to TFS, the team account for that connection also appears here. See Connect to team projects in Team Foundation Server and Connect Visual Studio to TFS.

By choosing the Account Settings command, you can display and update information about your Visual Studio profile and license. For example, you can enter a product license or update your profile.

By following this procedure, you can change your account name, avatar picture, email address, and other profile information. You can also update the link to your TFS page if you have one.

  1. In Visual Studio, open the menu next to your account name, and then choose the Account settings command.

    Visual Studio Account Settings menu
  2. In the Account Settings dialog box, choose the Visual Studio profile link.

  3. On the My Information page, choose the Edit Information button.

  4. Change the settings that you want. To change the avatar picture, choose the Change Picture link.

  5. When you're done, choose the Save changes button.

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