Optimizing toolbars for your workflow

Mads Kristensen

Visual Studio is the application I use the most on any given workday, and I consider it my virtual home. It’s where I’m comfortable, productive, excited, frustrated, and happy. I love Visual Studio. Over the years, I’ve learned how to optimize it for my various development workflows—I personalized it. Just like I would with a home in the real world.

One of the most visible — and arguably iconic — things about Visual Studio is the Standard toolbar. It’s always right there in front of you. Here’s how I made it mine.

Before we dive in, this is what the Standard toolbar looks like in Visual Studio 2022.

Image standard toolbar

It’s got commands for navigation, opening and saving files, undo and redo, etc. Those are all very useful commands that I use all the time, but I never use them from the toolbar. I know the keyboard shortcuts for those, so there is no reason for the commands to take up space in my toolbar.

To remove them, click on the right-hand side of the toolbar to expand the Add or Remove Buttons menu.

Image add remove buttons

That will show all the commands currently available for this toolbar, and you can the select or deselect the ones you want to be visible. I uncheck all the commands I don’t need and add the Manage Extensions command. The toolbar now looks like this:

Image standard toolbar ext

Much more my style. I like it.

A command I use all the time is to show the Tools -> Options dialog. So why not put that on the toolbar for easy access? To do that, I open the Add and Remove Button menu again and hit the Customize… button at the bottom of the list.  A dialog pops up:

Image customize command

From here I can add any command or flyout menu to the toolbar. Click the Add Command… button to open the command window and find the Options… command.

Image add command

Clicking OK will insert the command on the toolbar and it now looks exactly like I want it to.

Image standard toolbar finished


Not just toolbars

You can modify any toolbar using these same techniques as well as any top menu and context menu. So, you are in complete control over the command system and can optimize it to your exact workflows.

How do you optimize the toolbars and menus in your Visual Studio? Which commands do you use most from the toolbar or menus? How can we make personalizing Visual Studio easier? Chime in from the comments below.