Visual Studio 2017 Productivity Tools


Visual Studio keeps enhancing its features and easy development process for developers with every release. Visual Studio 2017 Productivity Power Tools are a set of extensions to Visual Studio which improves developer productivity. These productivity tools help during the development process and make a developer’s life more comfortable and easy. Recently released Microsoft Productivity Power Tools are broken into separate extensions and developers now can download as many extensions as they need.

Install Productivity Power Tools

Microsoft Power Tools extensions can be downloaded and installed from the Visual Studio Marketplace, or from the Extensions and Updates section of the Visual Studio IDE. Figure 1 shows the list of currently available Productivity Power Tools extensions available in the Visual Studio Marketplace.

Productivity Power Tools listed in Visual Studio Marketplace
Figure 1: Productivity Power Tools listed in Visual Studio Marketplace

Developers also can download and install Productivity Power Tools from Visual Studio Extension Manager (see Figure 2).

Extension and Updated from Option menu
Figure 2: Extension and Updated from Option menu

Open Visual Studio and navigate to Extension Manager from Tools -> Options; go to the online gallery to search for it or download (see Figure 3). Once you have done it, turn on and off the tools you need just by going to Tools -> Options -> Productivity Power Tools and turn on only the things you want, as shown in Figure 4.

Install Extensions
Figure 3: Install Extensions

Productivity Power Tools On/Off feature
Figure 4: Productivity Power Tools On/Off feature

Microsoft has introduced a big list of Productivity Power extensions with its 2017 release. The following are the most preferred extensions for developers.

Peek Help (Alt + F1)

Peek Help, or keyboard shortcut Alt+F1, brings up the F1 help content inline in the code editor. When using Peek Help, an editor window appears embedded within the document for the developer’s point of interest (see Figure 5).

Peek Help
Figure 5: Peek Help


This is one of the best features for Visual Studio developers. It enables you to copy your code how it is formatted on your IDE (spaces and colors) and paste it as HTML with the support of HTML clipboard format. This means there is no need to fix up the formatting of code after pasting it into another HTML-based control or editor. A developer can customize the behavior from Tools > Options > Productivity Power Tools > HTML Copy, as shown in Figures 6 and 7.

HTML Copy Option from Tools
Figure 6: HTML Copy Option from Tools

HTML Code Copy
Figure 7: HTML Code Copy

Ctrl + Click Go To Definition

Rather than right-click, go to definition. This feature enables developers going to the definition of an object by using the Ctrl + Click shortcut. The Ctrl + Click shortcut makes an object a clickable hyperlink to symbols in the source code.

You can configure this option from Tools > Options Productivity Power Tools > Other Extensions (see Figures 8 and 9).

Ctrl + Click Configuration from Option
Figure 8: Ctrl + Click Configuration from Option

Ctrl + Click
Figure 9: Ctrl + Click

Timestamp Margin

A newly added feature adds the timestamp information in seconds and milliseconds to the Output Window during code debugging. It helps to track a running processes in the debug window. Developers can customize the time format from Tools > Options > Productivity Power Tools > Other Extensions > Timestamp margin options (see Figure 10).

Timestamp margin
Figure 10: Timestamp margin

Solution Error Visualizer

This feature adds error, warning, and message squiggles to Solution Explorer. The information is fetched from the Error List and directly displayed in the Solution Explorer tree view, as you can see in Figure 11.

Solution Error Visualizer
Figure 11: Solution Error Visualizer

Developers can turn this feature on and off from Tools > Options Productivity Power Tools > Solution Error Visualizer (see Figure 12).

Solution Error Visualizer Configuration
Figure 12: Solution Error Visualizer Configuration

Align Assignments

Aligns assignment for better code formatting. Achieve it by typing Ctrl+Alt+]. For example, typing the Ctrl + Alt + ] shortcut when the following code is selected (see Figure 13)….

Aligning code for better readability
Figure 13: Aligning code for better readability

….will transform it into this (see Figure 14).

Code is aligned
Figure 14: Code is aligned

Column Guides

To fix issues of missing brackets, a developer can use this feature. It will draw a line for you, as shown in Figure 15. Just right-click the column where you want that line and just go to Guidelines. It’s the same for removing it as well.

Add Column Guidelines
Figure 15: Add Column Guidelines

Code Compare

Code Compare, available in the Visual Studio Gallery, is a powerful file and folder comparison tool for developers. It can be integrated with TFS, SVN, Git, Mercurial, and Perforce version control systems to enhance change tracking and synchronization.

Triple Click

Selection is easy now. You can achieve it by triple clicking a line of code.

Format Your Code

The Ctrl + K + D shortcut formats your entire code to the proper spacing.


Productivity Power Tools has always been a collection of ideas or ways to enhance Visual Studio. Please remember, if you’ve uninstalled any of the extensions installed by the Productivity Power Tools 2017, those extensions won’t be installed again automatically. To reset these features, go to Tools -> Reset Productivity Power Tools.


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