How to: Use the Keyboard Exclusively

Visual Studio provides many default shortcut key combinations to make it easy to navigate and code within the integrated development environment (IDE). For a full listing of shortcut keys used in Visual Studio, see Pre-defined Keyboard Shortcuts. For information on keyboard shortcuts available for other Microsoft products, see


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.

Toolbox Controls

You can add a control on the Toolbox to a form or designer using the keyboard.

To add controls from the Toolbox to a designer from the keyboard

  1. On the menu bar, choose View, Toolbox.

  2. Choose the Ctrl + Up Arrow or Ctrl + Down Arrow keys to move among the sections in the current Toolbox tab.

  3. Choose the Up Arrow or Down Arrow keys to move among the controls.

  4. After the control is selected, choose the Enter key.

The control is added to the form or designer.

Dialog Box Options

You can move among the options in a dialog and change option settings using the keyboard.

To set dialog box options from the keyboard

  1. Use TAB or SHIFT + TAB to move up and down through the controls in the dialog box.

  2. To change option settings:

    • For radio buttons, use UP ARROW and DOWN ARROW to change the selection.

    • For check boxes, use SPACEBAR to select or unselect.

    • For drop-down lists, use ALT + DOWNARROW to display items and then use UPARROW and DOWNARROW to change the selected item.

    • For buttons, press ENTER to invoke.

    • For grids, use the Arrow keys to navigate. For drop-down lists in grids, use SHIFT + ALT + DOWNARROW to display items and then use UPARROW and DOWNARROW to change the selected item.

Window and File Navigation

The IDE provides several ways for you to move among open tool and document windows using the keyboard. You can also move and dock tool windows in different locations using the keyboard.

To navigate among windows and files in the IDE from the keyboard

  • To move among files in an editor or designer, choose CTRL + TAB keys to display the IDE Navigator with Active Files selected. Choose the Enter key to navigate to the highlighted file.

  • To move among docked tool windows, choose Alt + F7 to display the IDE Navigator with Active Tool Windows selected. Choose the Enter keyto navigate to the highlighted window.

To move and dock tool windows from the keyboard

  1. Navigate to the tool window you intend to move and give it focus.

  2. On the Window menu, click Dockable.

  3. Press ALT + Space and then choose Move.

    The docking guide diamond appears.

  4. Use the ARROW keys to move the window to a new location.

    The mouse pointer moves with the window as you use the ARROW keys.

  5. When you have reached the new location, use the ARROW keys to move the mouse pointer over the correct portion of the guide diamond.

    An outline of the tool window appears in the new docking location.

  6. Press ENTER.

    The tool window snaps into place at the new docking location.

See Also


How to: Work with Keyboard Shortcuts

Accessibility Tips and Tricks


Pre-defined Keyboard Shortcuts