Once again, in this series of posts I look at features of Visual Studio that may seem trivial, but can help improve your efficiency as a developer. The index of all my past little wonders posts can be found here.
Well, my friends, this post will be a bit short because I’m in the middle of a bit of a move at the moment. But, that said, I didn’t want to let the blog go completely silent this week, so I decided to add another Little Wonder to the list for the Visual Studio IDE.
How often have you wanted to change an option or execute a command in Visual Studio, but can’t remember where the darn thing is in the menu, settings, etc.? If so, Quick Launch in VS2012 (or Quick Access in VS2010 with the Productivity Power Tools extension) is just for you!
Quick Launch / Quick Access – find a command or option quickly
For those of you using Visual Studio 2012, Quick Launch is built right into the IDE at the top of the title bar, near the minimize, maximize, and close buttons:
But do not despair if you are using Visual Studio 2010, you can get Quick Access from the Productivity Power Tools extension. To do this, you can go to the extension manager:
And then go to the gallery and search for Productivity Power Tools and install it. If you don’t have VS2012 yet, then the Productivity Power Tools is the next best thing. This extension updates VS2010 with features such as Quick Access, the Solution Navigator, searchable Add Reference Dialog, better tab wells, etc. I highly recommend it!
But back to the topic at hand! In VS2012 Quick Launch is built into the IDE and can be accessed by clicking in the Quick Launch area of the title bar, or by pressing CTRL+Q. If you have VS2010 with the PPT installed, though, it is called Quick Access and is accessible through View –> Quick Access:
Regardless of which IDE you are using, the feature behaves mostly the same. It allows you to search all of Visual Studio’s commands and options for a particular topic. For example, let’s say you want to change from tabs to tabs expanded to spaces, but don’t remember where that option is buried. You can bring up Quick Launch / Quick Access and type in “tabs”:
And it brings up a list of all options on tabs, you can then choose the one appropriate to you and click on it and it will take you right there!
A lot easier than diving through the options tree to find what you are looking for!
It also works on menu commands, for example if you can’t remember how to open the Output window:
It shows you the menu items that will get you to the Output window, and (if applicable) the keyboard shortcuts. Again, clicking on one of these will perform the action for you as well.
There are also some tasks you can perform directly from Quick Launch / Quick Access. For example, perhaps you are one of those people who like to have the line numbers in your editor (I do), so let’s bring up Quick Launch / Quick Access and type “line numbers”:
And let’s select Turn Line Numbers On, and now our editor looks like:
And Voila! We have line numbers in VS2010. You can do this in VS2012 too, but it takes you to the option settings instead of directly turning them off and on. There are bound to be differences between the way the two editors organize settings and commands, but you get the point.
So, as you can see, the Quick Launch / Quick Access feature in Visual Studio makes it easy to jump right to the options, commands, or tasks you are interested in without all the digging.
An IDE as powerful as Visual Studio has so many options and commands that it can be confusing to remember how to find and invoke them. Quick Launch (Quick Access in VS2010 with Productivity Power Tools extension) is a quick and handy way to jump to any of these options, commands, or tasks quickly without having to remember in what menu or screen they are buried!