Get a Windows Explorer experience within the IDE!

My series continues with the VS File Explorer. I call this extension out because of its tag line:

The Visual Studio File Explorer Add-in (sexy name we know, but hey, it’s self documenting)

Gotta love self-documenting Add-in names. Rock on.

Seriously, it was the Shell Extension within Visual Studio experience that grabbed my attention. See below.

To Install

The VS File Explorer extension can be found in the Visual Studio Gallery at http://visualstudiogallery.msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/7193af78-b06e-48dd-8994-9deb2bfa1959

To Use

The tool can be found at View – Other Windows – Mindscape File Explorer.

View - Other Windows - Mindscape File Explorer

This will open a tool window that has a Windows Explorer look-and-feel.

But a Windows Explorer in itself isn’t exciting. There’s some additional functionality that’s worth calling out.

Maybe there’s a feature here that will help improve your productivity.

Shell Extensions within Visual Studio

Let’s say I have a shell extension like TortoiseSVN. (Tortoise doesn’t have a GUI per se. It inserts itself into Windows Explorer.) Using VS File Explorer, you can now see TortoiseSVN within Visual Studio.

TortoiseSVN shell extensions within VS

Just a heads up, for you 64-bit users, you might want to read this thread. (You need the 32-bit version of Tortoise to run within VS).

Command Prompt Here

This command will open a command prompt, regardless whether the selection is in the right-pane or left-pane.

Command Prompt Here icon

But note, this by default will be your standard command shell, cmd.exe, and not the Visual Studio Command Prompt. There is an option to customize what is run when you press this button.

Home

Home icon

I had to ask Mindscape about this one.

The “Home” button will change the root folder to whatever the “Default Root Folder” is in the Options dialog.

However, seems that there’s a bug that you have to change the “Default Root Folder” to something other than the installed default in order for the “Home” button to do something. Otherwise, trying to click “Home” will cause Visual Studio to stare at you like an old dog in obedience class looking at you as if you actually expect him to fetch that ball.

Snap to Current Solution

At first glance, I thought “snap” would take the highlighted project/code and add it to the current solution. Mais non!

“Snap To Current Solution” changes the current root folder to the current solution folder. As shown below, my Code default root folder becomes ConsoleApplication1

example of "Snap To Current Solution"

Change Root Folder

Change Root Folder icon

Not to be confused with the “Default Root Folder” setting, this command just changes the current root folder view in the left-pane. It doesn’t change the “Default Root Folder”, the folder that “Home” will go to.

Options

Options icon

Just as it sounds, here be anthropomorphic dragons, i mean here is where all the settings live for the VS File Explorer.

There are four settings here

  • Default Root Folder – What the “Home” button will take you to
  • Excluded Files – the files the VS File Explorer should not show
  • Open In Visual Studio – what do you want to happen when you double-click or press “Open” on a .sln file? Do you want VS to open it, or do you want it opened by its default application.
  • Command Prompt – here’s where you can change the .exe that is executed. For example, I changed mine to \Windows\System32\notepad.exe. Now when I click the command prompt icon, I get notepad. Might be able to do some interesting things here.

Know of an Extension you’d like to see here. Let me know!