No one has ever accused Visual Studio
of being the fastest application in the world. One particular sore
spot is the time it takes to launch a new instance of Visual Studio.
If you are a frequent user of Visual Studio, this is not news to you.
There are a couple of things you can do to speed up how Visual Studio
starts—although it won't be the fastest app in
the world, it will be much more bearable.
Disable the Start Page
The start page is the web page that is
displayed by default when Visual Studio first starts up. By default,
this page shows a list of recent projects and includes tabs that list
online resources and allow you to edit your Visual Studio profile.
The start page does not really add any functionality that you
can't access somewhere else. The reason the start
page is both a security threat and a slowdown factor is that it
launches Internet Explorer. Visual Studio .NET 2003 fixes this issue
slightly by loading Internet Explorer only if you are using a
customized start page, so needless to say, using a customized start
page is discouraged.
Visual Studio 2005 adds a completely new start page that should not
affect the startup time of Visual Studio and should not create any
If you don't get a lot of use out of the start page,
it is easily disabled in the Options menu. While the performance gain
won't be the same between Visual Studio editions, it
will be enough to be worth the effort. To disable the start page,
simply go to Tools → Options, then choose General under the
Environment folder (General should be selected by default). On the
right of that screen, you will see a drop-down where you can specify
what Visual Studio should do on startup. I recommend choosing Show
Empty Environment; this means Visual Studio will not do anything
special on startup.
Turn Off Dynamic Help
Another issue that Visual Studio .NET 2003 helped
to resolve was Dynamic Help starting during startup. Dynamic Help is
another part of Visual Studio that tends to slow everything down. It
is a good idea to make sure the Dynamic Help window is not open when
you start up Visual Studio—this is done by simply making sure
the window is closed when you close Visual Studio.
If you never really use Dynamic Help, you can disable it completely.
To do this, you need to delve into the registry and change the value
of the key located here:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Visual Studio\<7.1>\Dynamic Help
The name of the key is NeverShowDHonF1, and you will need to change the value of this
key to YES. Doing this will disable Dynamic Help.
Start from the Run Dialog
As with starting any
application, part of the time it takes to start Visual Studio is
spent hunting for it in your Start menu. Many developers find it much
easier to simply open the Run dialog and enter the name of the
application executable. To do this with Visual Studio, all you need
to do is open the Run dialog (Windows Key-R or Start →
Programs → Run), then type devenv and
press Enter. This is by far the fastest way to get the application up
and running. There is also a switch for
devenv called /nosplash,
which will suppress the splash page for Visual Studio. So, you can
into the Run dialog (or the command prompt) to have Visual Studio
start up without the splash page.
Keep MRU Lists Under Control
One sure way to slow down the startup
of Visual Studio is to have a lot of files and projects in the
file and recent project lists. This is especially apparent if you
have any projects in the MRU list that are located on a network
share. Visual Studio checks various file attributes, and if there is
a problem with the network connection (or if you're
simply not connected to it when you start up), Visual Studio will
hang while trying to access these files.
The best thing to do is simply keep these lists under control using
the method outlined in . If you
notice any slowdowns in startup, a quick trip to VSTweak to clear out
these lists is a good idea.