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What is Visual Studio Window Manager?
VSWindowManager is an addin for Visual Studio 2003 and Visual Studio 2005 to help you manage your window layouts. It allows you to save your window positions, sizes, and auto-hide status; and to change between layouts either manually or automatically.

For example the following are all windows:
  • Solution Explorer
  • Class View
  • Properties
  • Error List
  • Output
  • Toolbox
  • And so on...

This addin utilizes existing functionality in Visual Studio to save and restore named layouts. All the addin does is provide an interface for triggering a save/apply from Visual Studio. The actual layout information is maintained by Visual Studio itself. If you ever wish to move your layouts from one machine to another you can do so with the new Visual Studio 2005 functionality under the 'Tools->Import and Export Settings' menu.

Saving Layouts
Once VSWindowManager is installed it will add two new menu options under the Window menu in Visual Studio. To save the current layout of your Visual Studio Windows go to the 'Window->Save Window Layout As' menu and then select the name of the layout you wish to overwrite.

Applying Layouts
There are multiple ways to apply a layout:
  1. Manually from the Window menu
    • Select the name of the layout you wish to apply from the 'Window->Apply Window Layout' menu
  2. Manually from the toolbar
    • When VSWindowManager is installed for the first time it will add a new toolbar. On this toolbar will be an icon for each individual layout. Clicking on any icon will cause that layout to be applied
  3. Manually using a keyboard shortcut
    1. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to any layout by selecting 'Customize' from the 'Tools' menu
    2. Then click on the 'Keyboard' button
    3. Filter the command list by 'WindowManager'
    4. Select the layout from the command list and assign a keyboard shortcut
  4. Automatically
    • To enable automatic changing of layouts you need to check the 'Auto Apply Layouts' option under the 'Window->Apply Window Layout' menu.
    • If auto-apply layouts is on then the addin will automatically apply either the Design or Coding layout based on the currently selected document.

Customizing Settings
All the settings for the addin (including the names, icons, and associated file extensions for each layout) are stored in an xml file in your documents and settings under 'Application Data\Power Toys for Visual Studio .NET 2005\VSWindowManager' in the 'layout.xml' file.

The comments in the xml file should hopefully be enough to guide you when making changes. Note if you change the xml file such that it can no longer be read by the addin it will automatically be overwritten with the default settings.

The Window Manager addin began as a GotDotNet project for Visual Studio 2003. The most recent releases and source code have been brought across however you can find previous bugs and forum posts at the old site:

Last edited Sep 18, 2006 at 5:40 AM by Antin, version 3