In Visual Studio 2005, we introduced the IDE Navigator.  It’s that window that pops up when you press Ctrl+Tab.  Once the window pops up, keep holding down the Ctrl key, while you use either the arrow keys or the mouse to pick a file or tool window to activate.

It is bound to the command Window.NextDocumentWindowNav, in case it is different for you or you want to change it.  I know some settings have Ctrl+Tab bound to Window.NextDocumentWindow (note the minus nav).

IDE Navigator in VS 2005

But you may be thinking, “Hey Sara, what about Visual Studio 2008?  It is the year 2008 after all?”  You know, that’s a great point.  I’m going to start including tips and tricks specific to Visual Studio 2008 throughout the next upcoming months, but i just have so much more of generic IDE tips and tricks to get through first.

In Visual Studio 2008, they (since I technically didn’t work on 2008) did a lot of UI tweaks with the IDE Navigator, as shown below.  You’ll notice that there’s more “real estate” (what we call the actual space in a UI dialog), so you can see more of the file path.  And of course there’s the preview window, which is pretty cool.  (I said “oooh” when i first saw it, but i’m a little bias.)

IDE Navigator in Visual Studio 2008

Just a quick note in case your IDE Navigator ever gets “stuck.”  Back during the 2005 development cycle, I had the IDE Navigator check whether either “sticky keys” (that thing that happens when you hit the shift key 5 times in a row) is enabled or an Assistive Technology is running (e.g. a screen reader, screen magnifier – whatever asserts itself as an ATV by setting a registry key we look for).  If we find this key set, we enabled the IDE to be sticky (setting our own reg key), meaning that you don’t have to hold down the ctrl key to keep the dialog up.  If you accidentally get the IDE Navigator stuck in this state, email me for the registry key to delete. Update 11/30/2012: Thanks to Eric Carr for posting the workaround: http://tilt.carr.no/Post/12/visual-studio-ide-navigator-stuck

Technorati tags: VS2005Tip, VS2008Tip