How to: Set Accessibility Options

Visual Studio contains features that make it easier for people who have low vision to read and for people who have limited dexterity to write. These features include changing the size and color of text in editors, changing the size of text and buttons on toolbars, and auto-completion for methods and parameters, to name a few.

In addition, Visual Studio supports Dvorak keyboard layouts, which make the most frequently typed characters more accessible. You can also customize the default shortcut keys available with Visual Studio. For more information, see How to: Work with Shortcut Key Combinations.


The dialog boxes and menu commands you see might differ from those described in Help depending on your active settings or edition. To change your settings, choose Import and Export Settings on the Tools menu. For more information, see Visual Studio Settings.

Editors, Dialogs, and Tool Windows

By default, dialog boxes and tool windows in Visual Studio use the same font size as the operating system. Additionally, the color settings for dialogs and tool windows also match those used by the operating system by default.

You can change the settings for text-based tool windows, such as the Command window, Immediate window, and Output window, in the Fonts and Colors pane of the Environment options in the Tools dialog box. When [All Text Tool Windows] is selected in the Show settings for drop-down list, the default setting is listed as Default in the Item foreground and Item background drop-down lists. You can also change the settings for how text is displayed in the editor.

To change the size of text in text-based tool windows and editors

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options.

  2. Choose Fonts and Colors on the Environment folder.

  3. Select an option on the Show settings for drop-down menu.

    To change the font size for text in an editor, choose Text Editor.

    To change the font size for text in text-based tool windows, choose [All Text Tool Windows].

    To change the font size for ToolTip text in an editor, choose Editor Tooltip.

    To change the font size for text in statement completion pop-ups, choose Statement Completion.

  4. From Display items, select Plain Text.

  5. In Font, select a new font type.

  6. In Size, select a new font size.


    To reset the text size for text-based tool windows and editors, choose Use Defaults.

  7. Choose OK.

You can also choose to change the default colors for text, margin indicators, white space, and code elements in the editor.


To use high contrast colors for all application windows on your operating system, press Left ALT+Left SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN. If Visual Studio is open, close and reopen Visual Studio to fully implement high contrast colors.

To change the color of items in the editor

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options.

  2. Choose Fonts and Colors from the Environment folder.

  3. In Show settings for, choose Text Editor.

  4. From Display items, select an item whose display you need to change, such as Plain Text, Indicator Margin, Visible White Space, HTML Attribute Name, or XML Attribute.

  5. Select display settings from the following options: Item foreground, Item background, and Bold.

  6. Choose OK.

You can also choose to display pop-up windows in Code view of the editor. The pop-up windows can prompt you with available members on the current object and the parameters to complete a function or statement. These pop-up windows can be helpful if you have difficulty typing. However, they do interfere with focus in the code editor, which can be problematic for some users. You can turn off these pop-up windows by clearing Auto list members and Parameter information on General, All Languages, Text Editor in the Options dialog box. For editing C/Visual C++ code, clear Enable automatic Quick Info tooltips on Formatting, C/C++, Text Editor, Options Dialog Box in the Options dialog box.

You can rearrange the windows in the integrated development environment (IDE) to best suit the way you work. Tool windows can be docked, floated, hidden, or Auto-hidden on a window-by-window basis. You can also choose the multiple documents mode, which allows you to access one window at a time. If you are using a screen reader, you might find this setting preferable. You can also apply the Accessibility Macro, which configures the IDE to better accommodate screen readers. For more information, see Macros Samples.

To use multiple documents mode

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Options.

  2. Under Environment, choose General.

  3. Under Window layout, select Multiple documents.

  4. Choose OK.

For more information about changing window layouts, see Window Management.


To improve toolbar usability and accessibility, you can enlarge or add text to toolbar buttons.

To display large icons on toolbars

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Customize.

  2. In the Customize dialog box, select the Toolbars tab.

  3. Select the Use large icons option.

To assign text to toolbar buttons

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Customize.

  2. In the Customize dialog box, select the Commands tab.

  3. Choose Rearrange Commands.

  4. Select Toolbar and then choose the toolbar name that contains the button you intend to display text for.

  5. In the list, select the command you intend to change.

  6. Choose Modify Selection.

  7. Choose Image and Text.

To modify the button's displayed text

  1. Re-select Modify Selection.

  2. Adjacent to Name, insert a new caption for the selected button.

See Also


Resources for Designing Accessible Applications

Other Resources

Customizing the Development Environment

Accessibility Features of Visual Studio