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Posted 4 Jan 2004

Windows Switcher Add-In

, 4 Jan 2004
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How to speed-up navigating in big workspace using keyboard


This Add-In speeds-up switching between windows opened in Visual Studio, especially when you are working with many projects in the same workspace and you don't like to use the mouse.

How do you navigate between windows in Visual Studio?

There are many ways to switch between windows in Visual Studio:

  1. You can click on proper file on Workspace FileView tree
  2. You can use Wizard Bar C++ Class to open window containing given class
  3. You can open dialog "Windows…" from menu Window and then choose opened window

First method is very easy and often used, but needs mouse.

More experienced programmers use second method, which is fast - especially when you assign key sequence to "C++ Class combo" in Wizard Bar. I always assign "CTRL+1" to WBClassComboActive, and "CTRL+2" to WBMembersComboActive. Unfortunately using this method it is possible only to switch between files in current project.

Third method is useful when you have many projects in the same workspace. You can open "Windows…" dialog and there go to window containing file from other projects, or even window with opened document, which isn't assigned to any project. Of course it is possible to assign key sequence to this dialog.

I work in Visual Studio using second and third methods. I use Wizard Bar to navigate between class from current project and dialog "Windows…" to navigate between windows outside current project. Unfortunately dialog "Windows…" is not perfect. (Probably developers in Microsoft doesn't use this dialog, and they don't improve it :-). So, I had to improve this dialog. That's why I wrote "Windows Switcher Add-In".

What has Windows Switcher got that the "Windows…" menu has not?

Windows Switcher for each window opened in Visual Studio shows:
  • its content (class name, resource identifier, or simply file name if file content can't be recognized)
  • project name to which window is assigned
  • full path to file which is opened
All windows are ordered by:
  1. Project name (first windows from current project, next windows from other projects, and at the end windows not assigned to any project)
  2. Window content
User can simply filter list of windows by typing a word which is found in columns "Content", "Project", and "Full path".

Using Windows Switcher Add-In

Just simple install Add-In in your Visual Studio. During installation Windows Switcher will offer you to assign key sequences to a few useful commands, which normally are not assigned to key sequences in Visual Studio. Treat it only as suggestion, not obligation. I use these commands very often, and access by keyboard to them speed-up my work.

Later, when you will want to navigate to other window in workspace, simply press "CTRL+Q" (or key sequence to which you assigned "Windows Switcher" during installation), type a few letters of class name / resource id, select desired window (if more windows fulfilled typed filter), and press "ENTER".


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Mariusz Wojtysiak
Web Developer
Poland Poland
Mariusz Wojtysiak started his career as coder on ZX-Spectrum demo-scene under nickname Maniu. He graduated Poznan University of Technology. His skills are: project/develop/maintenance of Oracle and MS SQL databases, programming in C++ (including MFC, ATL, Soap), Oracle Forms, and Assembler.
Currently works in IN-Software as developer. Live in Poznan/Poland.

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralAdding it Pin
hellslinger26-Apr-06 11:55
memberhellslinger26-Apr-06 11:55 
GeneralVisual Studio .NET Pin
Anonymous13-Jul-04 8:52
sussAnonymous13-Jul-04 8:52 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio .NET Pin
Anonymous14-Jul-04 0:31
sussAnonymous14-Jul-04 0:31 
GeneralRe: Visual Studio .NET Pin
vladfein14-Jul-04 8:35
membervladfein14-Jul-04 8:35 
QuestionDid you WndTabs? Pin
Behzad Ebrahimi8-Jul-04 11:22
memberBehzad Ebrahimi8-Jul-04 11:22 
Please see[^]
AnswerRe: Did you WndTabs? Pin
Mariusz Wojtysiak12-Jul-04 4:35
memberMariusz Wojtysiak12-Jul-04 4:35 

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