Visual Studio 2019 for Mac Preview 3

Jordan Matthiesen

Today, we’re excited to announce the Preview 3 release of Visual Studio 2019 for Mac. This is the next release of our IDE for .NET Developers on the Mac. You can download it now or use the in-product update feature if you already have a previous preview release installed. To update, simply use the Visual Studio > Check for Updates… menu! In this release, we’ve put all our energy toward addressing common issues raised by developers in our community. Your feedback is coming through loud and clear – you want a solid IDE experience that is reliable and helps you focus on getting your work done in a quick and high-quality way.

This release focuses on improving the core of Visual Studio for Mac. Major highlights of this release include:

  • Easily launching multiple instances of the IDE, right from the macOS dock.
  • Create smaller and faster Android apps with Xamarin and optimizing the Android development loop.
  • Replacing the Unity debugger with the same core engine used in Visual Studio on Windows.
  • Increased stability and performance of code editor, Git tooling, .NET Core debugging, and project/solution load improvements.
  • Reliable Git support so that all file changes/adds/removes are tracked and committed.

In addition to the above, we’re excited to introduce a first preview of the new, fast, fluid, and performant C# editor, built on top of the same core editor as Visual Studio on Windows.

In this post, we’ll focus on a few of the top requested changes – launching multiple instances, debugging with Unity, and the new C# editor. Please, take a look at the release notes to learn more about all of the changes included in this release.

Running multiple instances

To open a new window/instance of the Visual Studio for Mac IDE, you can now right-click on the app icon in the dock and choose a the New Instance menu.

Multiple IDE instances

When working on large projects, it can be common to open up multiple solutions at one time, either to work on different parts of a project or perhaps temporarily open up some sample code. Visual Studio for Mac has support for opening multiple solutions in one window, and we’ve heard a lot of requests to support multiple windows for the IDE. Let us know how this works for you!

Improvements for Xamarin app development

Xamarin developers should find a ton of improvements in this release with generated Android apps now smaller and faster and a generally improved development loop for Android developers. Some of the new highlights include:

  • Incremental build improvements for Android developers that decrease build times (up to 29% in some cases) and decrease deployment times by 50%.
  • Designer support for Android Pie (9.0).
  • New Xamarin.Forms Shell templates, providing a guided structure for setting up your apps UI.

You can learn more about these improvements over on the Xamarin blog.

Debugging improvements for Unity developers

Visual Studio for Mac is the default IDE for Unity development on the Mac. Until this release, we’ve had different debuggers for the Unity tools on the Mac and on Windows. With the Preview 3 release, we replaced the debugger on the Mac with the same core Unity debugger from Windows. Beyond making it easier to apply bug fixes across both products at the same time, this new debugger provides better compatibility with older versions of Unity and a better experience when debugging unsafe C# code.

A new C# editor – more power, more fun

We’ve been working on this for a while, and we’re delighted to announce the first preview of our new code editor experience. The new editor builds on a solid foundation provided by the Visual Studio editor on Windows, with native macOS UI added to make sure it feels right at home on a Mac. Not only does this provide an enhanced experience with smooth editing and navigation, but the new editor also has all the powerful IntelliSense/code-completion and quick fix suggestions you expect from a Visual Studio Editor. Plus, as the editor is truly native, you get all the benefits of a modern macOS editor, including several top features such as right-to-left and bi-directional text support and full support for native macOS input sources, which makes VS for Mac an IDE that speaks your language.

The new editor is currently a preview feature and is disabled by default for now. We need your feedback as we continue to refine and stabilize the feature! To enable the new editor, navigate to the Visual Studio > Preferences… menu, Text Editor > General section and check the Open C# files in the New Editor checkbox. You can also toggle other experimental features like “Word wrap” from this dialog.

New C# Editor

Smooth editing and navigation

Your code is the “star of the show” and a good editor is all about helping you improve and refine that code. It should be smooth as you type, help you quickly iterate and refactor your code, and help increase your effectiveness when writing code over time. The new editor helps you out here by:

  • Improved scrolling speeds, typing responsiveness, and smooth animations.
  • Adding support for multi-caret editing to help you modify multiple lines of code all at once (a top developer request).
  • Providing word wrapping to ease working with long lines of text (another common request).
  • Leveraging your existing familiarity with the editor in Visual Studio on Windows, if you use it today (we’ll keep improving here over time).

Here’s a quick look at the new multi-caret editing support, which builds on the same support available to you in Visual Studio on Windows.

Multi-caret editing

Faster, more powerful IntelliSense and quick fix suggestions

A long-standing favorite of developers using Visual Studio, IntelliSense (auto code completions) has received a new look in this release of the editor, as well as numerous changes to help write your best code. Some of the big improvements include:

  • New quick-action analyzers that mirror the same great choices in Visual Studio on Windows. (Learn more about these Fixes and Refactorings, in a previous blog post from Kendra Havens).
  • An improved IntelliSense UI with faster performance.
  • Shared Roslyn and editor backend with Visual Studio on Windows, which gives you the same well tested and trusted core experience across platforms.

An IDE that speaks your language

Visual Studio for Mac is an IDE loved and used by developers all around the world. With the new editor, we can now provide proper support for bi-directional languages mixing in left-to-right and right-to-left text. We can also use native macOS editing capabilities for typing accented and special characters. Language improvements provided by the new editor include:

  • Right-to-left and bi-directional language support.
  • Smoother text rendering, which improves the appearance of all text regardless of language choice.
  • Emoji support!

Check out the following example, showing how you can use native macOS input controls to insert text using different languages, plus an all-important emoji. 😉



Improved find and replace

We developers, usually spend more time exploring code bases, navigating through our existing code, and refactoring rather than writing brand new code. For this, we need a reliable and easy to navigate IDE. With the new preview editor, we’ve focused on replacing the existing Find and Replace functionality in the editor, so it is more intuitive and discoverable. With this new dialog, you can now:

  • Easily switch between using regular expressions, performing plain text searches, or making a case-sensitive search.
  • Tab between options in the dialog and perform your Find/replace actions much faster.

find and replace

Try the preview today, and please share your thoughts!

We encourage you to download and try out the release today! Our aim is to make .NET development on macOS a breeze, and this release is our next step on this journey. Check out our recently updated product roadmap to see what we’re working on next and share your feedback and suggestions! We strive to be 100% driven by customer feedback and we love to hear from you.


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  • Stefan Wouters-Yaowanasap 0

    I love Visual Studio for Mac and the latest improvements are great. Huge step forward! I’m just hoping that, just like Visual Studio Code, Microsoft will eventually release Visual Studio on Linux as well. I’m working on three machines (Windows, Mac and Linux) all the time, and with Visual Studio Code (and Azure Data Studio), it doesn’t matter what machine I’m on, I can just continue working between machines. I’d love the same experience for Linux.
    Releasing a Linux version is the number 2 request on User Voice (, so as a community, we’ve done our best sharing our thoughts. Show us some (more) love, Microsoft! Thank you!

  • Nicholas Petersen 0

    Blown away at the coolness! While I’m on Windows only, it makes me proud to be on the .NET stack, knowing our skills are increasingly portable everywhere, thanks for the work MS team!
    “The new editor builds on a solid foundation provided by the Visual Studio editor on Windows”
    “Shared Roslyn and editor backend with Visual Studio on Windows”
    Curious, while I get the shared Roslyn part (as Roslyn is already cross-plat), isn’t the Windows editor based on (non-cross plat) WPF? Curious how it was possible to share the “editor backend.” In any case, keep rocking. 

    • Jordan MatthiesenMicrosoft employee 0

      Thanks for the kind words!
      We’re planning to put out a technical post in the future, with some of the fun behind-the-scenes tech details of what’s up here, but in the meantime you can get some insight from this Tweet/thread straight from the team on Twitter:

  • Greg Bair 0

    What are the plans for mstest support in the test explorer? That’s what’s keeping me from using VS for Mac.

  • Cody BeyerMicrosoft employee 0

    I second what Jordan said! And in addition to the thread he linked, there is also a discussion between the lead on the Editor team with someone who worked on the editor for VS Windows! Super interesting, quick read:

  • Adam Hill 0

    Do the multiple instances support Xamarin? For example, can I load the same solution in both instances, deploy 1 to Android & 1 to iOS? Emulators? Simulators?
    Does the Rosyln editor support extend to being able to run Roslynation and apply refactorings?

  • Rahmi Tuğrul Altın 0

    I’m not sure but just need shortcut CTRL+K+D 🥰😀🥳🥳🥴

  • John Morris 0

    Ya’ll have done great with this version.  While I am still new with VS for my Mac I have been using VS for some time.  Is there plans to include support for Html, css, js, Angular or Vue in the future?

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