Whenever I demo Tools – Import / Export Settings, I’m usually asked what’s the difference between the Import feature and the Reset feature.

From an end-user perspective, importing everything in that particular settings file is functionally the same as a reset.  That’s why we don’t show you the “Choose Settings To Import” wizard page.  If we did, you would see all the checkboxes checked and grayed-out on that page.

Full Import is same as a Reset

But of course, there’s more going on under the UI surface.  Whenever you do a Reset, Visual Studio records the file in the registry.  There are some shortcut within the IDE to quickly “reset” (and note how i use the term reset) those settings.

Below are the most common:

Tools – Options – Environment – Fonts and Colors – Use Defaults option

On the Fonts and Colors page, you’ll see the Use Defaults option.  This will reset your Fonts and Colors using the settings file you last reset to. 

Fonts and Colors options page Use Default button

Windows – Reset Window Layout

On the Windows menu, there’s the command Reset Window Layout.  This will reset your Window layout (i.e. all your tool windows in all 4 states) using the settings file you last reset to.

Windows menu Reset Window layout command


What if you attempt to “reset” using a file you last reset to that didn’t contain this particular category.  For example, let’s say you last reset to your own reset file, and it didn’t contain the window layouts category.  Then I believe VS uses its “factory defaults” (the legacy settings that were built in for VS 2003 – the version before the import / export settings) when you do Windows – Reset Window Layouts.  I recall during one of the many “profiles” feature (import / export settings) design meetings the term “schizophrenia” being used to describe a possible state VS could end up in.  =D

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