General, Environment, Options Dialog Box
This article applies to Visual Studio 2015. If you're looking for the latest Visual Studio documentation, use the version selector at the top left. We recommend upgrading to Visual Studio 2019. Download it here
Use this page to change color themes, status bar settings, and file extension associations, among other options, for the integrated development environment (IDE). You can access the Options dialog box by opening the Tools menu, choosing Options, opening the Environment folder and then choosing the General page. If this page does not appear in the list, select the Show all settings check box in the Options dialog box.
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, open the Tools menu, and then choose Import and Export Settings. For more information, see Customizing Development Settings in Visual Studio.
Choose the Blue, Light or Dark color theme for the IDE.
You can install additional predefined themes, and create custom themes, by downloading and installing the Visual Studio 2015 Color Theme Editor from the Visual Studio Marketplace. After you install this tool, additional color themes appear in the Color theme list box.
Apply title casing in menu bar
Menus are in Title Casing by default in Visual Studio 2015. Un-check this option to set them to ALL CAPS.
Automatically adjust visual experience based on client performance
Specifies whether Visual Studio sets the adjustment to the visual experience automatically or you set the adjustment explicitly. This adjustment may change the display of colors from gradients to flat colors, or it may restrict the use of animations in menus or popup windows.
Enable rich client experience
Enables the full visual experience of Visual Studio, including gradients and animations. Clear this option when using Remote Desktop connections or older graphics adapters, because these features may have poor performance in those cases. This option is available only when you clear the Automatically adjust visual experience based on client option.
Use hardware graphics acceleration if available
Uses hardware graphics acceleration if it is available, rather than software acceleration.
Items shown in Window menu
Customizes the number of windows that appear in the Windows list of the Window menu. Type a number between 1 and 24. By default, the number is 10.
Items shown in recently used lists
Customizes the number of most recently used projects and files that appear on the File menu. Type a number between 1 and 24. By default, the number is 10. This is an easy way to retrieve recently used projects and files.
Show status bar
Displays the status bar. The status bar is located at the bottom of the IDE window and displays information about the progress of ongoing operations.
Close button affects active tool window only
Specifies that when the Close button is clicked, only the tool window that has focus is closed and not all of the tool windows in the docked set. By default, this option is selected.
Auto Hide button affects active tool window only
Specifies that when the Auto Hide button is clicked, only the tool window that has focus is hidden automatically and not all of the tool windows in the docked set. By default, this option is not selected.
Manage File Associations
Displays the Windows Set Program Associations dialog box, where you can view file extensions for items that are typically associated with Visual Studio and the current default program for opening each type of file. To make Visual Studio the default application for types of files that are not already associated with it, choose the file extension, and then choose Save.
This option can be useful if you have two versions of Visual Studio installed on the same computer and you later uninstall one of the versions. After you uninstall, the icons for Visual Studio files no longer appear in File Explorer. In addition, Windows no longer recognizes Visual Studio as the default application for editing these files. This option restores those associations.