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Posted 12 Mar 2008


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How to Add the Visual Studio Command Prompt (VSCP) to your IDE as a tool

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12 Mar 2008CPOL2 min read
Explains how to add the Visual Studio Command Prompt to the IDE.


This article explains how to add the Visual Studio Command Prompt (VSCP) to your IDE as a tool.


As a seasoned developer using Microsoft technologies, you may have used the Visual Studio Command Prompt for various reasons. It may be for creating Strong Names, or for adding binaries to the GAC, or for viewing Intermediate Language code of the code you write, etc. Whatever be the reason for using the VSCP, we normally move away form our working environment and access the command prompt by using these steps:

  • Start -> Programs
    • Microsoft Visual Studio (version)
    • Visual Studio Tools
    • Visual Studio Command Prompt

    (The steps may change based on the version of the Operating System and Visual Studio installed.)

How to add VSCP to your IDE

We can add the VSCP as a tool in the IDE so it will be very easy to access the VSCP from the IDE itself.

  1. In your IDE, go to Tools -> External Tools..
  2. Click on the Add button.
    1. Give a title of your own like “Command Prompt”.
    2. In the ‘Command’ area, specify the path either by typing “C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe” or by browsing to the folder “C:\Windows\System32” and selecting cmd.exe.
    3. In the arguments area, specify the text "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Common7\Tools\vsvars32.bat".
    4. Set the Initial Directory to the solution directory.
  3. Click on the OK button.
  4. Now, the Visual Studio Command Prompt is available in the IDE tools menu.

Whenever you need the command prompt in the IDE, you can use this tool option and the command prompt will be available.


Now, you may ask the question “what is the difference between the system command prompt and the VSCP?”

We can consider the VSCP as just a wrapper of the system command prompt. The VSCP will simply load the environment settings for the .NET framework so that you can use any of the framework tools in the command prompt and execute it without any errors like '...not recognized as an internal or external command..'. It is not necessary that we should use VSCP for using Visual Studio tools like sn.exe, gacutil.exe, etc. If you have set the environment variables properly for executing Visual Studio commands, you can use the system command prompt itself to use Visual Studio tools. Otherwise, you will get an error.

What is vsvars32.bat?

Go to step 2. c, and you can notice the argument vsvars32.bat. What is this vsvars32.bat? It is simply a batch file setting the environment variables for the .NET framework tools. You can navigate to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\Common7\Tools\ (in the case of Visual Studio 2008) and open the batch file vsvars32.bat for editing, and you will get a clear picture on the environment variable settings for the .NET Framework.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

V K Sumesh
Architect Photon Infotech, US
United States United States
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

QuestionYou should be using environment variables... Pin
Michael Bergman24-May-14 5:59
MemberMichael Bergman24-May-14 5:59 
Generalworks by adding arguments as Pin
samir411803-Sep-10 6:05
Membersamir411803-Sep-10 6:05 
GeneralWorked fine once I added /k before the vsvars32.bat argument Pin
Member 157155025-May-09 23:35
MemberMember 157155025-May-09 23:35 
GeneralRe: Worked fine once I added /k before the vsvars32.bat argument Pin
Alfons van Zwol8-Jul-09 1:32
MemberAlfons van Zwol8-Jul-09 1:32 
GeneralGood Article Pin
Anjum.Rizwi4-Feb-09 0:44
professionalAnjum.Rizwi4-Feb-09 0:44 
QuestionFor Professional Programmer Pin
BillGets2-Apr-08 23:33
MemberBillGets2-Apr-08 23:33 

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