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I spend a good portion of my day inside Visual Studio when I am working on a project. I need to be able to control the layout of my windows, and get the screens arranged the way I prefer. During this movie, I'll show you how to work with the windows inside Visual Studio, and I'll share some layout tips I've learned over the years. I am inside Visual Studio, and I have opened this TourIDE solution. That solution contains one project called ConsoleApplication1. The first thing I want to show you is how to open a Code Editor window.
I have two code files inside this project: Book.cs and Program.cs. If I double-click on Book.cs in Solution Explorer, you'll see that it loads into the center portion of the screen, and it places a tab across the top of the window. If I double-click on the Program.cs file, you'll see that another tab is added in the same location. It's very easy to close these tabs. There is an X button on each of the tabs. Click on the X button to close it.
To reopen it, I need to go back to Solution Explorer and double-click on Program.cs. Occasionally, you'll end up with many Code Editor files open. In that case, they may not all fit across the top of this area. Microsoft provides a dropdown window here that shows all of the available tabs. If you can't see one of your tabs, be sure and explore this area, to see of it's there. Of course, in this application, I've only got two tabs open, so I don't need to worry about that. Visual Studio supports a very flexible layout engine for their Windows.
I can take this Program tab, and I can pull it out into the center of my viewing area. Now I've got an independent window floating there. And of course, I can size this window if necessary. I am on a Windows 7 machine, so if I take this window and I slide it over to the edge of the monitor, it will automatically dock that to the edge of the window. Now, keep in mind this is a Windows 7 feature, not a Visual Studio feature. So if I let go, you see that window is now docked to the side of my monitor.
If you're fortunate enough to have a multi-monitor machine, you can take this and slide it off onto the other monitor, and then you can dock it over on the other monitor. It's hard to show docking on a second monitor though in a movie, so take my word for it, that will work. Now I want to get this tab back where it was before. There is a couple of ways that I can get there. One thing I can do is I can double-click on this header. When I double-click on the header, it maximizes the view of this code window.
Watch, double-click, and now I have the entire screen taken up with that window. That's not what I wanted. I wanted to put it back where it was originally. Here is the tip I learned a while back: you hold down the Ctrl key, and then you double-click on the header. And there it is, back in its original position. The other way to get it back is to use this visualizer that's sitting in the center of the screen. Do you see it there? There is this floating icon that looks like it has five work areas.
That represents the five different places that I can put this window as I am dragging it around the screen. Look at the tip of my mouse. When my tip of the mouse enters this area, you'll see a blue highlight show up in the background that says now if I let go of this mouse at this point, it's going to put that tab on that section of the screen, which is not exactly what I wanted. I want to have it go back where it was originally. So, I'll come down here and take a look at my other choices.
Split the screen vertically, and put it either on the left or the right, put it on the bottom half of the screen, or move here to this center item, and that places it back in the original position. Again, I am going to let go when my mouse is over that center point. Now I can do the same thing with other windows. Look over here in the Solution Explorer. You see in the bottom of the window here--there are three tabs. Now your machine may look slightly different than this. On my machine, I have Solution Explorer, a Team Explorer, and Class View down here. I can take one of these tabs and pull it out, just like I showed you for the code windows.
I can maximize it and dock it to the left and the right. If I want to put it back in this location or let's say I want to put it in another location like down here in this Properties section, I just drag, keep my eye on those visualizers, and I am going to go down here and use the center icon, and now I am going to add it as a second tab to the Properties area. Okay, Class View and Properties. Pull it out, move out here, and I can put it back. Well, let me show you one more tip. You'd likely to make a messier screen at some point and can't figure how to get something back where it belongs.
Luckily for you and for me, there is a Reset switch for these embarrassing moments. The simplest way to handle this is to just go up to the Window menu and choose Reset Window Layout. This sets it back to the default settings. So now you can see the Class view is back over here. It also added another tab that we didn't see originally. The default views have this thing called the Start Page open right there. I'll close the Start Page tab.
There is another feature on the Layout windows I'd like to show you now. It's called the Auto Hide feature. If you look on the left side of my screen, you'll see that it says Toolbox and Server Explorer. Those are windows that are automatically hid, or shrunk down to a very small size, and placed on the left or right side of the window. If I move my mouse over one of them, say the Server Explorer, I can see the window temporarily. And if I move my mouse away from the edge, it will go back to where it was.
It's showing me that there is a window I can look at, but it's not keeping it permanently in my work area. If I want to dock it to the side of the window, I need to click on this Auto Hide button. You'll also note that over here in the Class view and in the Properties view, there is an Auto Hide button. These ones are showing, but if I where to click on those Auto Hide buttons, it would collapse those down to the right edge of the screen. Next, I want to show you, what's called the Full Screen mode. Sometimes, I just want to remove all of the windows and just concentrate on one window at a time.
To accomplish that, I go to View > Full Screen. I don't know if you saw it, but all my toolbars across the top also disappeared. All I have now is the menu. I work in my code for a while, and when I am done with the Full Screen view, I click here on this icon to return back to the original view. Currently, I have about six or seven windows available for me to work with. There are other windows that are not shown by default.
You can find more about these windows in the View menu. For instance, there is the task list and the Output window. There is also the section called Other Windows, which contains 12 or 15 other windows. Also, when you're debugging an application, you'll find some extra windows in the Debug menu. I'll talk more about this in the debugging chapter. Right now, you can see I have the Breakpoints, the Output, and the Immediate window available. For my last tip in this movie, let's look at what happened when you do a Ctrl+Tab keystroke.
I am going to hold down the Ctrl key, and then I am going to tap the Tab key without letting go of the Ctrl key, like this--tapping the Tab key. So basically, all of the files that I currently have opened in the editor are listed in the Active Files section, and all of the windows I have currently opened, are available over here--the Tool windows. So you can see that if I go to Server Explorer by clicking here, my focus will move over to the Server Explorer. I have been using Visual Studio for a long time.
Each version gives me some new IDE feature I can't live without. I think my favorite new feature in this release is probably the multi-monitor support. I have three monitors on my Desktop, and this feature is invaluable, but there are a lot of other good features for you to find. Have fun exploring, and let me know which one you think is your favorite.
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