The Immediate Window

I notice a lot of developers do not use the Immediate window. If you are one of those users,  do yourself a favour and check it out. It's terribly useful. For those of you who are not familiar with it here are some highlights to get you started.

The window I'm talking about in VS 2003 is the Command Window. This window can be used to either issue commands or to debug and evaluate expressions in Visual Studio .net. To open this window, press CTRL+ALT+A, or click on the menu View->OtherWindows->Command Window

For the record I believe I heard these two windows will be seperated in Whidbey.

Below is a quick description of the two modes.


Title Bar Displays Description
Command Mode Command Window Allows the developer to perform any command available in Visual Studio via a command line interface.
Immediate Mode Command Window - Immediate Used when debugging an application for evaluating expressions, print variable values, or execute statements. It can also be used to change the value of a variable during debug or even to execute a function or statement.

How to switch between the two modes?

  • When you are in command mode you can enter the command >immed to switch to immediate mode.
  • When you are in Immediate mode you can switch to command mode by typing >cmd
  • If you wanted to execute one command in immediate mode prefix it with a > ie: >alias

Immediate Window:

This is the mode I use most. It's like a command line quickwatch, but it has intellisense. To evaluate an expression you must prefix it with a ?

  • ?this.Order.OrderTable(0).itemarray
  • ?this.Order.OrderTable(0).CustomerId
  • ?this.Order.OrderTable.count

In previous versions of the Immediate window the UP and DOWN ARROW keys move the cursor to previous commands. In VS .Net they allow you to scroll through previously issued commands. If you scroll to a command highlight it and hit enter it will be copied as the next command to be executed.
Once in a project, the Command window can be opened in Immediate mode by pressing CTRL+ALT+I, or click on the menu Debug->Windows->Immediate.

One more quick tip. You can copy your command from the immediate window into the watch window. So in other words get it right with the help of intellisence then paste it into the watch window so you can see it permanently.

The Command Window:

Just to give fair time to both modes. The Command Window makes full use of intellisense to help you find and execute a command within VS.

You can also create your own alias for any command for example: You can type the following to save all the files in your solution.


However, if you used this command a lot you could create a shorter alias of this command like fs.
To create an alias enter the following into the command window.


From now on you can just type fs to perform a file.Saveall

To see a complete list of aliased commands just type alias in the Command Window and it will list all the aliased commands.