I’ve been trying out VS 2015’s new Custom Window Layouts feature. This lets you create, manage, and open different arrangements of windows in Visual Studio. The benefit of custom layouts is that you can quickly switch between window layouts that help you perform specific tasks, saving you time from going through the layout process to support scenarios you commonly engage in. Clearly, the selection of these scenarios, and associated layouts, is a personal choice and based on how you prefer to work. This blog post explains how to use the Custom Window Layouts features.
Finding Available Layout Options
You can work with custom window layouts via the top-level Window menu in VS 2015, shown below:
This shows that you can save, apply, manage, and reset the window layout. The following sections go into more depth on each feature.
Saving a Layout
The scenario I’ll use for this demo layout is reference management. Whenever I’m managing project references, it’s handy to have the NuGet window, NuGet Console, and Solution Explorer in view. Additionally, having the Properties window open lets me quickly select project references and view their details. The following screen shot shows what this looks like:
To save this layout, select the Window | Save Window Layout menu option. You’ll see the following dialog window:
Add the Layout name and click OK and you’ll have a new layout that you can apply.
Note: You can save up to 10 layouts.
Once you have saved layouts, you can switch between them. i.e. apply a new layout. To apply a new layout, select the Window | Apply Window Layout menu option and then select the layout you want, as shown below.
Selecting References Layout will move your screen windows into the arrangement specified when saving the References Layout. Notice that each layout also has Ctrl+Alt+N short-cut keys, where N is a number from 0 to 9.
Once you have a set of layouts, you’ll likely want to change what you have. For this, select the Window | Manage Window Layouts menu option and you’ll see the Manage Window Layouts dialog window below:
This window lets you re-order layouts by selecting the layout to move and clicking the up or down arrow buttons. Be aware that the short-cut keys are based on position in the list and not assigned to a specific layout. So, if you move Full Screen (in the figure above) up, it’s short-cut changes from Ctrl+Alt+2 to Ctrl+Alt+1. The Rename and Delete buttons do what they say to the selected layout.
Resetting the Layout
If you select the Window | Reset Window Layout menu option, the window layout will revert to the original layout that Visual Studio established when installing. If you recall, Visual Studio asks you for a profile, such as C# or ASP.NET, and that determined what the original layout was. While you can reset the layout, all of your custom layouts remain intact and you can continue to use them normally.
Custom Window Layouts give you a quick way to customize your IDE layout, depending on the work you want to do. You can save, apply, and manage layouts to match your preferences.
If you would like to learn more about Visual Studio 2015, I’ll be presenting a free webinar on “What’s New in Visual Studio 2015” on Wednesday, April 22nd 2015 for LearnNowOnline.com.