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Visual Studio Settings 

Settings in Visual Studio consist of customizations made to the integrated development environment (IDE) based on different types of development activities and your own customizations. These customizations include showing or hiding certain tool windows, window layouts, placement of menu commands, menu names, available templates in the New Projects dialog box, predefined shortcut key combinations, and Help filters, and so forth.

With settings, you can:

  • Create a copy of your active settings for use on a second machine

  • Share your active settings with other developers

  • Allow all team members to use the same settings in select areas, such as the editor, without removing individual customizations to other areas

What are settings?

Settings are customizations to the IDE, such as window layouts, editor defaults, and available dialog box options that you can save, export, import, or reset to make the IDE easier to use.

Your active settings consist of two parts: predefined customizations from the installed .vssettings file you selected the first time you started Visual Studio and any subsequent IDE customizations you have made. Active settings are saved by default in the file currentsettings.vssettings.

For more information on the predefined settings available with Visual Studio, see the following topics.

General Development SettingsVisual Studio - Configuring the Development Environment
Visual J# Express SettingsVisual J# Express Edition
Visual Basic SettingsVisual Basic Concepts
Visual Web Developer SettingsVisual Web Developer
Visual C++ SettingsGetting Started with Visual C++
Visual C# IDE SettingsVisual C# Development Environment Reference
Visual J# SettingsGetting Started with Visual J#

How do settings work?

When you first start Visual Studio, you are required to select a settings collection that contains predefined settings designed to match your development habits. If you upgrade to another edition of Visual Studio, you are also given the option of applying the other edition's settings using the My Previous Settings option. The settings collection is the first element of your active settings. Each time you make a change to a setting tracked by Visual Studio, such as change the color of commented code in the editor, the change is automatically saved to currentsettings.vssettings along with the predefined settings. Visual Studio applies your active settings automatically each time you start Visual Studio.

In some cases, you can change the settings applied as part of a pre-defined collection. For example, if a settings collection simplified the Options dialog box by hiding pages, you can display those pages manually by selecting Show all settings. In other cases, you cannot override the predefined setting without applying a different collection. For a detailed list of the customizations included in predefined settings, see Visual Studio Settings. For information on applying different settings collections, see How to: Change Select Settings.

Settings can be applied in two ways: you can completely replace your active settings with new settings or you can replace a portion of your active settings. Importing a .vssettings file that contains all possible settings categories or applying another settings collection both replace your active settings completely. Importing a .vssettings file that only contains a subset of settings categories or unselecting settings categories in a .vssettings file only applies those settings that are selected, leaving your active settings for the remaining categories intact.

Help and Settings

Predefined settings collections also provide customizations to Help. Settings specify the default How Do I page in Help. The selected How Do I page filters the content that appears in the Table of Contents and in the Index, as well as provides tailored content on the How do I tab. You can change the active How Do I page from the Other How Do I Pages drop-down list.

Settings and Security

Some settings categories can contain information about you or your computer that might be a security concern if you share your settings with others. Conversely, if you plan to import settings provided by others, you need to be aware of the categories within the settings file that could be a security concern. An icon appears next to those categories with potential security issues. These settings categories include:

  • Favorites

  • Import and Export Settings

See Also

Other Resources

Working with Settings