Two Keys Are Better Then Three

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Smart tags appear in Visual Studio when the IDE thinks it can help you make quick work of a common task. I use the feature quite a bit, particularly for rename refactoring, implementing interfaces, adding using declarations, and generating method stubs.

closed smart tag in Visual Studio 2005

One way to open a smart tag is to hover the mouse over a 1 pixel hotspot that lives somewhere in the vicinity of the smart tag indicator.

Fortunately, Visual Studio assigns the same keyboard shortcut to open a smart tag as Office apps: Shift+Alt+F10. The keyboard is a better approach, but Shift+Alt+F10 is one of those piano virtuoso maneuvers. Splay your fingers, point your wrists outward, and attack the keyboard with a flourish. Actually, it’s not a bad exercise to avoid carpal tunnel. On my laptop, I sometimes open the smart tag, I sometimes turn off the LCD.

open smart tag in Visual Studio 2005

When I went into the Customize menu to assign a new keyboard shortcut, I found there is already an alternate shortcut assigned: Ctrl+. (see Tools -> Customize -> Keyboard -> and show commands for View.ShowSmartTag).

Ctrl+. is a better shortcut to open a smart tag, but I’m still waiting for the day when I can blink at the screen and get a reaction.

Eric D. Burdo Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Coding by blinking... hmm. I like it. As long as its faster than morse code... :)
Jeff Atwood Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Sott, this is awesome, I was TOTALLY gonna write a blog entry about this exact issue! The default shortcut is completely and utterly insane as you point out.

Personally I like ALT+DOWN ARROW, which I think maps better conceptually to what is happening-- you're "dropping down" the smart tag menu.
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