I remember when I used to teach for ExecuTrain that anytime I had to learn a new program, I would spend at least an hour going through the menu items one by one.  This really helped me to become really familiar with the product.  I stopped doing that for some idiotic reason a while back, maybe because I felt I didn’t have enough time.  I have made a goal to examine one program a week in depth, going through all the menu options and keyboard shortcuts.  I was inspired to do this because of Sara Ford’s daily tips for Visual Studio.  The first application I am tackling is Visual Studio 2008, starting with the options dialog and the environment settings. 

At each area, I have linked to the help online.  Here are some of my “Aha” moments.

Tools – Options – Environment – General

  • I turned off Animate environment tools.  This is not a must for me and may speed up my environment.
  • Restore File Associations button – This is good to know.  I installed SharpDevelop the other day and had all of my cs files registered with that application.  I manually reregistered with Visual Studio.

Tools – Options – Environment – AutoRecover

I have turned this off.  Especially since I am using source code control.  Everyone should be saving their work frequently.

Tools – Options – Environment – Find and Replace

I checked the Hide Find and Replace window after a match is located since I use the shortcut keys to Find Next (F3).

Tools – Options – Environment – Fonts and Colors

There are so many configurable settings in here:  The thing that I found interesting when looking for the help was finding out that the Printer can have different settings than the text editor.  Great when you have black backgrounds.

Tools – Options – Environment – Help – General

I changed the following properties on this:

  • Show Help using the Integrated Help viewer.  Comes up in the IDE.
  • Unchecked Highlight search terms, too much noise for me, especially when the keyword can be in the document many times.
  • Unchecked include partial matches for the local search results.

Tools – Options – Environment – Help – Online

I thought this was interesting.  I will check to see if I can add custom providers to the search criteria.  It would be great to add Dan Appleman’s SearchDotNet.


Tools – Options – Environment – Keyboard

Keyboard shortcuts are a topic in themselves.  I don’t know where I would be without them.  One of the things that you might try is just typing in some keyword text into the show commands containing window to get a feel for commands that might be candidates or already have shortcut keys.

Tools – Options – Environment – Startup

I personally show an empty environment, however, if the company I worked for had a developer RSS feed to for tips and tricks, I would show the start page and modify the news channel to that feed.

Tools – Options – Environment – Web Browser

These options seem a little flaky.  I can’t get another search engine other than Live to come up.  Oh well, I use slick run anyway to get to searches on the web.


As you can see there are a lot of features that I am discovering just by going through these items.  Hopefully you can benefit from them also.



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