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Tip 6.5: What’s the difference between resetting settings and importing settings?

January 15, 2013

“Visual Studio Tips, 251 ways to improve your Productivity in Visual Studio“, courtesy of ‘Sara Ford’

Sara Ford’s Blog

Whenever she demos Tools–Import And Export Settings, she’s usually asked to explain the difference between the Import feature and the Reset feature.

From an end-user perspective, importing everything in that particular settings file provides the same functionally as a reset.

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But of course, there’s more going on under the UI surface. Whenever you do a reset, the IDE stores the path of the file you picked to reset to in the registry. There are some shortcuts within the IDE to quickly reset those settings. Following are a couple of the most common of these quick reset options.

First, on the Tools–Options–Environment–Fonts And Colors page, you’ll see the Use Defaults option. This option resets your fonts and colors using the settings file you last reset to.

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Second, on the Window menu, there’s the command Reset Window Layout. This command resets your window layouts (that is, all your tool windows in all four window layout states) using the settings file you last reset to.

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But … What if you attempt to reset using a file you last reset to that didn’t contain this particular category? For example, let’s say you last reset to your own settings file and it didn’t contain the Window Layouts category. Then she believes Visual Studio uses its factory defaults (the legacy settings that were built in for Visual Studio .NET 2003, the version before the Import And Export Settings feature was built) whenever you do Windows–Reset Window Layout. She recalls during one of the many Profiles feature design meetings the term schizophrenia being used to describe the possible states Visual Studio could end up in. =D

Happy Programming! =)

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