Ang3lFir3 – Life as a Code Poet

May 7, 2006

Tabs in Visual Studio 2005 (Arrrgh!! stop that!)

Filed under: Microsoft, Uncategorized, Visual Studio 2005 — ang3lfir3 @ 9:47 pm

Something has been bugging me ever since the launch event for VS2005. I've been waiting for MS to do something about it as well as searching out a hack to solve the problem. All to no avail.

So "What is this problem?" you ask. Well, its the Tabs in the main code editor window for VS2K5. They are backwards, rediculously backwards even. Its not logical to have new tabs opening against the far left edge of the tab row. This does two things that make me LESS PRODUCTIVE!!!

The first is that is shifts all the tabs i had been clicking through before one position to the right. That means I have to re-learn where the code windows while trying to actually get work done. As I often close code windows periodicly when done with them this causes my tabs to be going all over the place.

The second is that this means I have to go to the far edge of the screen (literally across the whole screen) to move the new tab to a more normal position. [figure 2] This highly annoying behavior can be a real pain when you are trying to work quickly and still maintain some UI sanity.

Figure 1 below shows the tabs before opening a new document (the one highlighted in white is the current document)

click to enlarge

Figure 2 below shows the location of a new tab (highlighted in white) after opening another document. The red arrow shows where the tab SHOULD open in a more logical workflow.

click to enlarge

If someone knows of a Hack to fix this problem, or if Microsoft would be so kind as to make this a configurable option at least, that would be awesome. I mean come on Visual Studio is a Developers Environement. If anyone can handle (and would demand) every possible configuration option available, its gunna be us developers. And furthermore no one likes this reodering and destruction of the tab order.

I really am wondering who's idea this was, I sure would like to have a conversation with them.



  1. I totally agree with you! It’s just plain wrong. I prefer 2003 to edit stuff, simply because of this one reason!

    Comment by Dave — September 18, 2006 @ 1:39 pm

  2. This has annoyed be alot also. The backwards behavior and the fact that you can’t have a two row tab-list.. or any number of rows even.. it’s very annoying. also it’d be nice to be able to have an option to allow the tabs to shorten the file titles like “CPhysicalO…” if one would preffer that.

    anyway, please email me if you find a solution

    Comment by nim — September 19, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

  3. I agree. I’ve been developing in Windows using Microsoft development tools since the Programmer’s Workbench days, and I have to say that VS 2005 was a big step backward in many ways.

    1) The new tab behavior is really counter-productive and annoying. This one is probably from the same group of HF “experts” that came up with hiding items on menus. I often end up just closing everything and then re-opening the files I want (or at least manually re-ordering tabs)

    2) I used to use Ctrl+Tab to quickly cycle through open files. I could sometimes use it to spot the differences in similar files. Now I have to use Ctrl+F6, which requires that I move my left hand and stretch between thumb and middle finger to reach. Result: lower productivity.

    3) Who let this thing out the door without adequately testing “Replace in Files”? When I use tagged expressions in my replace string, VS occasionally “eats” a character in the replaced string. If I can’t *trust* this thing, then I can’t *use* this thing, and I used to use it pretty much constantly.

    4) I’ve seen no mention anywhere of a pending patch or update of any kind from Microsoft. Did they move all of these people over to Vista or what?

    Comment by Ice Uck — November 3, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

  4. Damn straight!

    My coworkers already make fun of me for being a Java hippy, and for moving my Solution Explorer and other similar windows to the left side, so I was afraid to ask them how to stop making the tabs open backwards! I’m glad it’s not just me.

    Would love to know if you discover a fix!


    Comment by Alison — November 9, 2006 @ 1:19 am

  5. totally agree. also annoyed with some property windows being non-resizable (e.g. Options.. -> try finding right keyboard shortcut). In SQL management studio they didn’t even make keyboard shortcuts customizable. Soooo many small and simple to fix things that make life difficult for developers and thats paying that much for these tools.

    Comment by ak — November 22, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

  6. I totally agree with the backwards tab thing.

    Is there any kind of fix for this yet?

    My God, its been annoying me for over a year and I am slowly going insane because of it.

    Comment by Jimbo — July 18, 2007 @ 4:48 am

  7. I thought it was bad too, until I realized why it is good. I can have my working files open and work with them. If I need to peek in a file, and then quickly close it, I know new files will be to the left.

    I can then just close the left most tab and be back to my working files only.

    Comment by Anon — January 9, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  8. I continued using VS 2003 for like 3 more years because that of that issue and a few others and decided to wait until a new IDE comes out. I just downloaded VS 2008 and it is no different. In fact, they just took even more steps backwards.

    They tried to make intellisense even smarter by showing up as you start typing an object’s name rather than popping up once you press period. Very annoying because once you press space key it spells what it thought you were typing and 9 times out of 10 it’s wrong. So now I have to press ESC everytime it’s wrong and there is no option to turn it off except to turn off AutoList Members all together, but it is needed to develop effectively.

    Some JACKASS at Microsoft decided that they no longer want to color VBScript Keywords. So, now when developing VBScript for DHTML purposes in VS2008 I feel like I’m using NOTEPAD.

    3. VS 2005 has this problem too. When I insert inline server-side script, it tries to auto-format it and messes it all up. It usually results in tabbing the line over way way too far. The only way to turn it off is by turning off the great feature that auto-tabs your code-behind files.

    All they need to do is listen to the developers and add an option to their already great options system. It seems to be pretty soft-coded, just make it an option and then add some if then logic in the IDE’s source code. Piece of cake. These issues can be knocked out in a day, I’m sure.

    Comment by Mark Howard — January 18, 2008 @ 1:59 am

  9. Tab management in VS 2005 suck beyond words.

    New tabs open on RIGHT. Always. Have a look at IE. Have a look at your start menu. Have a look at your excel sheets.

    It have completely ruined any use I had for the tabs. Most of the time, there is a subset of files I keep working on and a lot of other files I just make some quick changes to. Before, I knew my main files would ALWAYS be to the far left, because I opened them early.

    And having found one, I always remembered which I opened before or after, giving me a very convenient navigation.

    As it is now, I can’t memorize a thing. For every new file opened, all the tabs suddenly shift to new locations and get dropped off the window.

    Utterly, completely useless. The tabs were perfect, now they suck horse balls.

    Comment by Hate the new tabs... — January 22, 2008 @ 11:05 am

  10. Sucks in both Visual Studio 2005+ _and_ and SQL Management Studio 2005+ (same interface).

    Help is at hand – just stumbled across the following to at least solve the Ctrl+Tab problem:
    (something similar is possible in VS2005 itself)

    Haven’t found out how to force them to place new tabs at right edge yet…

    Comment by Mark Price — February 12, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

  11. hmm…I should of tried it before posting. Doesn’t quite work 😦

    Comment by Gordon Kenaston — August 26, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  12. Gordon, I tried the tip in the link, you have to do 8.0 instead of 9.0 in order to activate it in VS2005. (I guess VS2008 = 9.0).
    In any case, it doesn’t do what we are talking about here, it does something else that is even more annoying in my opinion, it forces the current document you are looking at to be the leftmost tab regardless.
    That might do it for some other people, but what I want is for the tabs to open on RIGHT.

    Additionally when one is on the designer view (web or win-forms) press F7 go switch to the code behind I want it to open immediately to the RIGHT of the current tab position the designer is at.

    Comment by Christian Amelinckx — October 29, 2008 @ 11:12 am

  13. Well this certainly was one of my most popular posts and that is surely understandable.

    Just a little update for anyone who cares. I’ve talked about this candidly with some MSFT emps on DevDiv and its likely not to change. It is a bug listed on almost all VS Connect sites and is usually closed with “Won’t fix!”… apperantly a lot of $$ was spent on user testing and it was determined that new tabs on the left was more user friendly.(wrong but more friendly!)

    I have personally overcome my need for this fix due to the inclusion of Resharper in my toolbox. I can’t live without it now and file navigation is as easy as ctrl+shift+n. Anyone who hasn’t given it a try should

    Comment by ang3lfir3 — October 30, 2008 @ 7:58 am

  14. This has annoyed me from day 1. I thought I would give myself time to adjust to it, but after years of hoping I have not adjusted.

    For English reading people it makes sense to have your code tabs load from left to right, just like you read (see the pattern). Isn’t developing software all about seeing the patterns to apply the solution. Ok, Microsoft if your user group reads from right to left then it makes sense, but there is a portion of us that still read from left to right.

    Comment by Justin — December 13, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  15. Has there been any update on this?
    VS 2008 does the same thing..
    Whoever thought this was a good idea needs sacking!

    Comment by Scooby — May 1, 2009 @ 12:09 am

    • As I mentioned before… every time I mention this its the same basic answer, “Won’t Fix”. iirc the last time I looked at VS2010 it was the same way as well.

      Comment by ang3lfir3 — May 1, 2009 @ 7:50 am

      • I really don’t get Microsoft’s stand on this, EVERY tabbed system used in The West adds tabs on the right.
        IE7, Firefox, Chrome, etc..

        Why can’t someone put their hand up and say “We got this wrong”?
        You know a bit like the person who thought Vista was a great idea!!! 😉

        All we want is the option to decide which end they open!!

        Comment by Scooby — May 15, 2009 @ 12:02 am

  16. To make things worse, each time VS is closed and reopened it shuffles the tabs to a new (dis)order. Comment 15 made me wonder if the lead designer for this was an arab or asian (being used to right-to-left reading). Having all the bells and whistles few people use it is hard to accept that this basic flaw is ignored, release after release after release…

    Comment by Martin Maat — May 14, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

  17. Fully agree. I spent years in Borland Delphi. Now using VS 2008. This is driving me nuts. I keep losing track of my tabs which means I’m less productive.

    I also hate the way I have to close tabs. In Delphi I could double-click a tab. Browsers (including IE) have an X on the tab to close it. Not VS. I have to right-click or click the X on the far right. Very annoying. I would think consistency would be important to them.

    The right hand doesn’t talk to the left at MS. They can be so stubborn.

    Comment by Sean R — May 26, 2009 @ 8:38 am

  18. Just wanted to add a bit of heat to this long burning fire, because this is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter a single iota what M$ and their “usability experts” have to say on the matter: putting tabs one way or the other, to the right OR the left, is going to cause pain for a significant portion of the developer population.

    So what it comes down to is the inclusion of a (very) simple little checkbox in the options dialog:

    [] Open tabs to the right of current tabs

    This in no way breaks usability because the default is left off. And for those people to whom this is a huge issue (myself very much included), it makes life far easier.

    Comment by Tony — August 24, 2009 @ 7:12 am

  19. Couldn’t agree more with Tony, as the saying goes “The customer is always right…”

    Guess what Microsoft, WE are the customer, we are right!!!

    Anyone else baffled by how slow VS 2008 is, editing ASPX pages is shocking. I have a super fast PC and it grinds to a halt just display a few hundred lines of HTML……

    Comment by Scooby — August 24, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  20. Just browsing to find fellow victims. It makes life a little more bearable. This feature makes me give moments of hate for VS every day I use the IDE, together with the fact that Ctrl+TAB is in MRU order. I want to love VS, but this is so very hard to bear. I hate it I hate it I hate it.

    Comment by Mark — October 1, 2009 @ 7:52 am

  21. […] quick search of the interweb shows I'm not the only one challenged by the tab feature. However the Visual Studio team have conducted "extensive usability studies" on […]

    Pingback by Pimp my Visual Studio — December 18, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

  22. Tabs Studio worked for me TabsStudio

    Comment by Paul — December 23, 2010 @ 10:08 am

  23. @Paul

    Thanks for the link, but this question was regarding VS 2005, and it looks like TabsStudio only supports 2008 and 2010.

    Comment by Joe — March 11, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  24. This was also driving me mental. Anyone who has happend across this page in the hope of finding a solution take a look at this which says this:

    Just go to Tools -> Options -> Environment -> Documents and select the “Insert documents to the right of existing tabs” option.

    It’s not going to work in 2005 but works in visual web developer 2010! Suppose I should have had a quick look in the options really… still…

    Urge to kill… fading… fading…

    Comment by Esem — March 3, 2012 @ 5:04 am

  25. Nice blog here! Additionally your website lots up very fast!

    What web host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink in your host?
    I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    Comment by Jasa Sedot Kasur Tungau Penyebab Alergy — March 27, 2017 @ 12:40 pm

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