Visual Studio: Managing several window layouts

Do you use a varying number of monitors depending on where you are working? If so, you might find this little tip helpful.


Including my laptop, I use three screens at work, but only one (the laptop) when away from the office. At work, I place a bunch of windows from VS over to one side in a nicely organized way, as in the picture above.

This works nicely with three screens, but as soon as I open Visual Studio on my laptop alone, all these windows pile on top of each other, and are only in the way. When working on a single, smaller screen, I therefore prefer to keep all this windows docked and minimized inside the main Visual Studio window.

So how do I switch quickly between these to window set-ups?

To avoid having to manually re-arrange your windows, you can export your settings, and import them again when needed. You’ll find this under Tools > Import and Export Settings.

First, you’ll want to export your current settings. As you can see, you have a lot of options for what to include.  Since I tend to keep most of the other settings as they are however, I generally only export and import the Window Layouts, which you’ll find under All Settings > General Settings. 


The dialog after selecting “Export selected environment settings”



Check only this box if you only want to keep your window layouts.


Complete the wizard to store your settings in a file.

Now, you can import them again in a similar way from the same wizard:

After selecting "Import selected environment setting"

After selecting “Import selected environment setting”

Example: Importing settings that include my preferred Window Layouts when at the office.

Example: Importing settings that include my preferred Window Layouts when at the office.

Browse and select the file with the settings you want. Complete the wizard, and the windows will arrange themselves as before. This only takes a few seconds, and lets you switch easily between different layouts.

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