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10 Visual Studio Ninja Code Editor Productivity Tips

Among the multiple daily development tasks (planning, testing, refactoring, bug fix…) code edition is arguably the most satisfying one. Code edition can be even more satisfying and productive by mastering the following Visual Studio productivity tips. In my opinion these tricks are not optionals: they should be part of all Visual Studio developer skills.

Short GIF animation is an excellent way to quickly learn Visual Studio productivity tips. See others related posts based also on short GIFs here:

1) Move one or several lines up and down

The line that contains the editing caret can be moved up and down with Alt+Up and Alt+Down.

The same way several lines selected can be moved up and down.

Move lines up and down with Alt+Up and Alt+Down
Move lines up and down with Alt+Up and Alt+Down

2) Rectangular Selection

Rectangular selection is very useful to quickly edit a code portion. This can be achieved with Alt+Shift+Arrows shortcuts.

Rectangular Selection with Alt+Shift+Up/Down/Left/Right.
Rectangular Selection with Alt+Shift+Arrows.

3) Multi-Lines Edition

Once mastering rectangular selection, it can be used to edit multiple lines at once:

Multiple Lines Edition
Multiple Lines Edition

4) Multi-Carets Edition

Often we need to repeat the same edition at multiple locations. To do so multiple carets can be defined with Ctrl+Alt+Mouse Click:

Multiple Carets with Ctrl+Alt+Mouse Click:
Multiple Carets with Ctrl+Alt+Mouse Click:

5) Multi-Carets Edition on Same Matches

Multiple carets can be set to next locations of the selected word. To do so first select the word and then use Ctrl+Shift+; .

Multiple carets can be set to all locations of the selected word with Ctrl+Shift+$ .

Same Match Selection
Same Match Selection

6) Expand / Contract Selection

You can expand the selection with Shift+Alt+= and contract it with Shift+Alt+.

Expand Selection
Expand Selection

7) Make Selection Uppercase / lowercase

You can Uppercase the selection with Ctrl+Shift+U and lowercase it with Ctrl+U

Make Selection Uppercase / lowercase
Make Selection Uppercase / lowercase

8) Outlining

The most important keyboard shortcut when it comes to outlining is Ctrl+M Ctrl+M. This shortcut expands / collapses the code portion that contains the caret.

Not all developers enjoy outlining and if you are one of those, you can discard it with Ctrl+M Ctrl+P.

Expand / Collapse Outlining
Expand / Collapse Outlining

9) Vertical Scrollbar Map Mode

The map mode is one of the most useful Visual Studio code editor facility. It does really help finding your way in source file.

Vertical Scrollbar Map Mode 
Vertical Scrollbar Map Mode

It can be set from Visual Studio > Tools > Options > Text Editor > All Languages > Scroll Bars > Behavior.

The width of the map can be: Narrow Medium Wide

Set Vertical Scrollbar Map Mode 
Set Vertical Scrollbar Map Mode

10) Bookmarks

When developing we often have to come back and forth through multiple locations in several source files. Fortunately you can concretely define this locations-set with bookmarks. Here are bookmarks shortcuts:

  • Ctrl+K, Ctrl+K to toggle a bookmark at caret position
  • Ctrl+K Ctrl+N go to Next bookmark
  • Ctrl+K Ctrl+P go to Previous bookmark
  • Ctrl+K Ctrl+L clear all bookmarks

Note that Visual Studio remembers bookmarks when closing it and restarting it.

Toggle Bookmarks with Ctrl+K, Ctrl+K
Toggle Bookmarks with Ctrl+K, Ctrl+K

11) Bonus: Visual Studio 2019 Clipboard Ring Preview

Ctrl+C copy some data to the clipboard. Actually Visual Studio maintains a clipboard ring to store several data.

With Visual Studio 2019 Ctrl+Shift+V shows a preview of the various data in the clipboard ring. This is quite useful to navigate through the copy history.

Visual Studio 2019 Clipboard Ring Preview
Visual Studio 2019 Clipboard Ring Preview

Conclusion: Visual Studio > Edit > Advanced

The Visual Studio menu Edit > Advanced is both a good start and a good reminder for code editor keyboard shortcuts.

There are more sub-menu including Bookmarks, Outlining, Intellisense and Multiple Carets.

Visual Studio Edit Advanced
Visual Studio Edit Advanced

I like the ninja-coder analogy because these tips must be repeated again and again as kata to be mastered in your daily coding routine.

Kata is a Japanese word meaning literally “form” referring to a detailed choreographed pattern of martial arts movements made to be practised alone, and also within groups and in unison when training. It is practised in Japanese martial arts as a way to memorize and perfect the movements being executed

Why not take 8 minutes now with this background theme and practice?

Be curious: there are many more Visual Studio facilities that will help becoming a ninja coder, first one being code snippets.

My dad being an early programmer in the 70's, I have been fortunate to switch from playing with Lego, to program my own micro-games, when I was still a kid. Since then I never stop programming.

I graduated in Mathematics and Software engineering. After a decade of C++ programming and consultancy, I got interested in the brand new .NET platform in 2002. I had the chance to write the best-seller book (in French) on .NET and C#, published by O'Reilly and also did manage some academic and professional courses on the platform and C#.

Over my consulting years I built an expertise about the architecture, the evolution and the maintenance challenges of large & complex real-world applications. It seemed like the spaghetti & entangled monolithic legacy concerned every sufficiently large team. As a consequence, I got interested in static code analysis and started the project NDepend in 2004.

Nowadays NDepend is a full-fledged Independent Software Vendor (ISV). With more than 12.000 client companies, including many of the Fortune 500 ones, NDepend offers deeper insight and full control on their application to a wide range of professional users around the world.

I live with my wife and our twin kids Léna and Paul in the beautiful island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.


  1. Hi Patrick,

    Your tricks are so cool and the topic “12 Visual Studio Debugging Productivity Tips” is very good.

    Best regards and stay safe,

    []s Jose

    PS.: Could be a version of nDepend to VS Community??? Think about…

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