How to: Manually Create a Start Page

If you cannot create a custom Start Page by using the Start Page project template, as described in Start Pages, you can manually create one by following the steps in this document.

First, make a blank Start Page by creating a .xaml file that has a tag structure that Visual Studio will recognize. Then, add markup and code-behind to produce the appearance and functionality you want.

To create a blank Start Page

  1. Create a new project of the type WPF User Control Library (Visual C# / Windows Desktop

  2. Add a reference to Microsoft.VisualStudio.Shell.12.0.

  3. Open the XAML file in the XML editor and change the top-level UserControl element to a Grid element without removing any of the namespace declarations.

  4. Remove the x:Class declaration from the top-level Grid element. This makes the XAML content compatible with the Visual Studio tool window that hosts the start page.

  5. Add the following namespace declarations to the top-level Grid element.


    These namespaces let you access Visual Studio commands, controls, and UI settings. For more information, see Adding Visual Studio Commands to a Start Page.

  6. Add controls to the empty Grid element to fill in your custom Start Page. For information about how to add functionality that is specific to Visual Studio, see Adding Visual Studio Commands to a Start Page.

Do not set the primary instance of Visual Studio to run the custom Start Page until you verify that it does not crash Visual Studio. Instead, test it in the experimental instance.

To test a manually created custom Start Page

  1. Copy your XAML file, and any supporting text files or markup files, to the %USERPROFILE%\My Documents\Visual Studio 2013\StartPages\ folder.

  2. If your start page references any controls or types in assemblies that are not installed by Visual Studio, copy the assemblies and then paste them in Visual Studio installation folder\Common7\IDE\PrivateAssemblies\.

  3. At a Visual Studio command prompt, type devenv /rootsuffix Exp to open an experimental instance of Visual Studio.

  4. In the experimental instance, go to the Tools / Options / Environment / Startup page and select your XAML file from the Customize Start Page dropdown.

  5. On the View menu, click Start Page.

    Your custom start page should be displayed. If you want to change any files, you must close the experimental instance, make the changes, copy and paste the changed files, and then re-open the experimental instance to view the changes.

To apply the custom start page in the primary instance of Visual Studio

  • After you have tested your Start Page and found it to be stable, use the Customize Start Page option in the Options dialog box to select it as the start page in the primary instance of Visual Studio

The following example shows the markup in the .xaml file for a blank Start Page. Any custom content should go in the inner Grid element.