Friday 18 January 2013

How do I fix Visual Studio 2012 so that it is usable? (aka how to Change the VS 2012 UI Skin)

After using Visual Studio 2012 for a couple of months, I became extremely frustrated with:
  1. Not being able to easily differentiate between icons based on their colors
  2. That all the Visual Studio 2012 menus are all in CAPITAL LETTERS (with their inherent lack of readability in this form). Personally, I prefer to reserve capitals for strictly for acronyms.
  3. The black and white color theme in Visual Studio 2012. It's not the best thing to wake up to in the morning!
To fix this I recommend you do what I did and:

1) Install NiceVS - which will give you back the color icons you know and love from VS 2010 (so you can easily tell your object browser from your Code Definition Window) . It also removes the unnecessary capitalization of the text in the main drop down menu. Install it from here:

2) Install the Visual Studio 2012 Color Theme Editor from here:

Small changes like these can make a big difference to the usability of VS 2012 on a daily basis. I'd have to say that it would have been better if both these pieces of functionality were already built in to the RTM of Visual Studio 2012. A big thank you to the authors for their respective extensions.


I can't see the GAC in Windows Explorer by browsing to %WINDOWS%\ASSEMBLY anymore. What is wrong?

As per
"In earlier versions of the .NET Framework, the Shfusion.dll Windows shell extension enabled you to view the global assembly cache in File Explorer. Beginning with the .NET Framework 4, Shfusion.dll is obsolete. "

Consequently, something that has worked since version 1.0 of the .NET framework is now [cough] "broken" - no more going to C:\WINDOWS\ASSEMBLY anymore! Now you will just get the ugly view of the GAC internals.

There are 3rd party utilities to help you browse the GAC (e.g. .NET Reflector can help in this regard) - but it is simple enough to just pipe or redirect the output of gacutil.exe to a text file to read in your favorite text editor:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 11.0\VC>gacutil -l > c:\temp\gacu