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Open File in Solution

Visual Assist provides two efficient methods to find and open files in your solution:

  1. Files in Solution drop-down in the VA View, which is often visible when editing
  2. Open File in Solution dialog that is opened on demand, and is more powerful than the drop-down

Keyboard access, speed, and filtering make these methods more efficient than the built-in Solution Explorer and FileView.

Visual Assist opens files using the appropriate applications, e.g. the text editor for resource scripts. Unsupported file types, such as library files, are listed but cannot be opened.

Visual Assist versus Visual Studio

Visual Studio 2017 provides Go-to-File, which provides some of the functionality of Open File in Solution. The Visual Assist implementation of the feature also supports searching of a wider scope, negative filtering, opening of multiple files, opening of enclosing folders, logical-or matching, opening to line numbers, opening via path, and sorting of matches.

Files in Solution Drop-down

The Files in Solution drop-down is the first component of the VA View. The interface to the drop-down is simple and fact, and sufficient if you know some or all of the filename you wish to open.

If the VA View is not open, open it with VAssistX | Tools | VA View or via a shortcut assigned to VAssistX.VAView.

Put focus in the drop-down, and type one or more strings to reduce the list of all files in your solution to those containing the strings. Filtering in the drop-down is always case insensitive.

Use negative filtering to exclude entries.

Use commas to search for entries that match any one of multiple filters.

Hover over entries in the drop-down to see file locations.

Navigate the drop-down with keyboard or mouse.

Open a file using Enter or Click.

Open File in Solution Dialog

Open a more comprehensive dialog of filenames with the default shortcut (Shift+Alt+O), alternate shortcut for VAssistX.OpenFileInSolutionDialog, or toolbar button.

Hover over truncated filenames to see full paths.

Open files using Click and Enter.

Shift+Click and Ctrl+Click to open multiple files in a single operation.

Open the context menu to access additional commands available to the current selection.

Visual Studio 2010 and newer

If you use the default keyboard mapping scheme, Shift+Alt+O is available only in the scope of the text editor. Therefore, you must open a file via an alternate method before you can use the shortcut.

If you want to use Shift+Alt+O at global scope, remove the binding between Shift+Alt+O and File.OpenWebSite, and increase the scope of the binding for VAssistX.OpenFileInSolutionDialog.

Filtering in the Dialog

Type a string in the edit field of the dialog to filter the list. By default, Visual Assist selects a file whose base name—not path—begins with the filter, and centers the file among all files whose base names contains the filter. If no file begins with the filter, Visual Assist selects the first file whose name contains the filter.

Type unique filters to locate files quickly. Type multiple strings to find files whose names contain all of the strings.

Precede a string with a hyphen to exclude files (negative filtering).

Begin a filter with a dot to find files that begin with the filter, or contain the dot and substring. A filter that ends with a dot matches ends of file names. For example "string." finds files whose base names end with "string". This dot filtering is possible in other dialogs of Visual Assist that support filtering.

Use commas to search for entries that match any one of multiple filters.

Type or paste a fully qualified file name into the edit field to "filter" to a specific file, even if the file does not appear in the dialog list.

Scope of Files in the Dialog

Uncheck the option in the dialog (Alt+S) to broaden the list to include all open files and header files from NuGet packages.

Projects in the Dialog

If the open solution contains multiple projects, the dialog includes a column to indicate the project(s) to which each file belongs.

If a file belongs to multiple projects, it will appear in the dialog multiple times unless the option to combine entries is set—the default. You can change the setting in the context menu when focus is in the list of files, not the edit control.

When entries are combined, hover over the project column to see all projects to which a file belongs.

Filtering on Path in the Dialog

Precede a filter with a backslash to use it locate files based on path, which is especially useful to locate a commonly named file in a multi-project solution. (Path filtering is available in the dialog only, i.e. not the drop-down.)

Opening to a Line Number from the Dialog

Follow a filter or fully qualified file name with a number to open a file at a specific line. Accepted formats for a line number include:

Format Honored Example
:NN When a single item is selected in list src action  :15
(NN) When a single item is selected in list, and
only when parenthesis abuts text, e.g., cpp(15)
After a fully qualified file name c:\users\demo\warzone\src\action.cpp(15)

Case-Sensitive Filtering in the Dialog

By default, filtering is case insensitive. If you enable matching on case in the context menu of the dialog list, i.e. not of the edit control, you can filter on case. When enabled, filtering is restricted to files matching case if a filter contains any uppercase letters.

Without the setting enabled, "foo" matches "foo" and "Foo". With the setting enabled, "foo" matches "foo" and "Foo", but "Foo" matches only "Foo". If you need to find only "foo" with the setting enabled, search for "foo -F"; the negative filter will eliminate "Foo".

Sorting in the Dialog

By default, files are sorted alphabetically by base filename. Click a column header to sort by the column. Click again to reverse the sort order.

Scrolling in the Dialog

Standard scrolling techniques are available in the Open File in Solution dialog when focus is in the list.

Although non-standard UI, when focus is in the filter edit control, Home and End scroll the list if no filter is present. Once you start typing a filter, the Home and End keys move the text caret in the filter edit control, whereas the Up, Down, PgUp, PgDn, Ctrl-Home, and Ctrl-End continue to scroll the list.

Tooltips in the Dialog

Use the Tooltips entry in the context menu of the dialog to show or hide the tooltips that appear when hovering.


If you hide the tooltips, they will still appear when hovering over truncated cells.

Last Filter and Selection in the Dialog

The Open File in Solution dialog remembers your last filter(s) and last selection when you reopen the dialog. This behavior lets you open successive items easily.


Files opened using the Files in Solution drop-down appear automatically in the Most Recently Used (MRU) component of the VA View. Files opened using the dialog appear only if the "Include opened files" option is enabled in the MRU.

Directory-Based Parsing

If you use directory-based parsing—specified in the Projects and Files pane of the Visual Assist options dialog—a file need not belong to a solution to appear in the drop-down or dialog.

Visual C++ 6.0

You must save workspaces and enable "Watch for externally modified headers" in the options dialog of Visual Assist to keep the drop-down and dialog updated as files are added to, and removed from, projects. Without the setting, only files in a workspace when the workspace is opened appear in the drop-down and dialog.

Registry Settings

Value Name Meaning
EnableFilterStartAndEndTokens Set preference for start- and end-token filtering
SelectRecentItemsInNavigationDialogs Force navigation features to select first alphabetical match