Synchronized Settings with Visual Studio 2013

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Build 2013 is happening now and Visual Studio 2013 preview has been released. I am pretty sure if you are reading this may be you have downloaded the preview bits and installed it on your system. Were you asked to sign into your live account when you started the Visual Studio 2013 for the very first time on your desktop/laptop? And did you wonder why Visual Studio is asking you to log in to your live account. Well read on to find out why.

Starting Visual Studio 2013:

If you installed and opened Visual Studio 2013 for the very first time, you will be surprised to see a message which says “Welcome. Sign into Visual Studio”. Well I was. I tried to recollect Visual Studio 2012 installation experience and I don’t remember this dialog. Well here is the screen shot of the Visual Studio 2013 sign in dialog:

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Well this is a completely new dialog. I went ahead and clicked on the Sign in button. If you are wondering what happens if I had selected “Not now, maybe later” – well we will see about this later. Just hang on. Here is the log in dialog:

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I went ahead and provided my live account details and got authenticated. Next it wanted to know more details about me – i.e. Name, Contact e-mail and Country. Here is the dialog:

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So I filled up all the necessary information and clicked Continue. Click continue made the visual studio to start loading and I could see the below dialog:

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Once the above process finished, I saw the Visual Studio 2013 open up. First thing that caught my eye was my live account picture on the Visual Studio – yes remember we just logged into our live account. So here is the new UI:

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As you can see it now knows who I am w.r.t to the live credentials.

Now, next question on your mind will be why did they ask a credentials? Well that’s the next section.

Synchronized Settings:

For quite some time Microsoft has been asking the devs if they like to save the Visual Studio settings on the cloud and get them back when they change their systems. for e.g. you were working on System A and you had made some changes to Visual Studio in terms of lets say theme, font etc. Due to some reason you now have to change your system. So wouldn’t it be nice if I can get back my settings. Well that’s precisely why your live account was asked – so that these settings can be saved. So what all settings can be saved you ask. Navigate to Tools > Options > Environment and you will a items named “Synchronized Settings”. Selecting that option will show you the following dialog:

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As you can see, the settings you can sync between systems are – Appearance, Environment Aliases, Keyboard Shortcuts, Startup and Text Editor.

Now how to know how this option works. Well believe it or not – for the first time in my life I clicked on the “?” available on this dialog ( in my 12 years of experience I never bothered to click the “?” ). Incidentally it took me to a Online Help Page. Here is the URL:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/vstudio/dn135229(v=vs.120).aspx

You have the option to select what needs to be syncd between the systems.

Changing Account Settings:

If you want to sign in with a different live credentials, click the down arrow next to your name and you will get a link to change your Account Settings:

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Here is the Account Settings window:

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You can click on Sign out and log back in with another credential. Notice there is a link which says Visual Studio Profile. I got curious as to where is this stored. So clicked on the link and it took me to a online page:

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So this is where our profiles are maintained. And of course from now onwards our settings will be stored and syncd whenever we log into our live account an any machine.

Summary:

For many power users like me who have specific ways of setting up our Visual Studio will now have any easy way to get back the same settings when on different machines. I think this is a nice feature to have. I was amazed to play around with this feature. Would love to hear how you guys are feeling about this.

  • Timo

    Thanks, great post!