How I Configure SQL Server Management Studio

Ever go into Tools-Options? SSMS has a stunning number of options these days. Here are some of my favorites:

Documents options

On the Documents options, I uncheck “Check for consistent line endings on load” because I constantly get scripts with all kinds of wacko line endings. That warning is a pain in the butt.

On the Fonts and Colors options, I used to get fancy. There are all kinds of “best programming fonts” articles out there with great-looking fonts. However, when I did screenshots for presentations or clients, people kept asking, “Why does your SSMS look so weird? Is it because you’re on a Mac?” These days, I leave those options at their defaults.

Query Shortcuts screen

On the Query Shortcuts screen, you should set up shortcuts for the scripts you run most often. I don’t – but it’s only because I have a wacko job as a consultant. I’m constantly jumping into an SSMS on someone else’s desktop, and they won’t have the shortcuts set up, so I don’t wanna develop muscle memory for something I won’t have access to. If I was you, though, dear reader, I’d set these up.

Startup options

On startup, SSMS defaults to just opening Object Explorer. I like to open a query window too, though – after all, I’m probably opening SSMS to run queries.

Tabs and windows setup

Under “Tabs and Windows,” check the box for “Show pinned tabs in a separate row.” This way, when you click the pushpin on a given tab, he pops up to the top like this:

Pinned tab

I love that for frequently-used tabs – I might have a dozen query windows open, but I keep coming back to, say, the window with sp_WhoIsActive open. I save that tab with a recognizable query file name, and then when I pin it, it pops up to the top in that separate row.

Speaking of which, those default tabs are hideous – go to Text Editor, Editor Tab and Status Bar:

Editor Tab and Status Bar

Scroll down to “Tab Text” and set everything to False except for “Include file name.” When you click OK, it doesn’t take effect on existing tabs, but after you close & reopen them – ahhh, much more legible. Check out how many more tabs you can fit on a screen:

Tabs, compacted

Next up, going back a little in Text Editor, go to All Languages, Scroll Bars:

Scroll Bars

The default behavior is bar mode, but if you change it to map mode, you get a text map down the right hand side scroll bar. I don’t find that all that useful, so I don’t enable it, but if you’re the kind of person who has long stored procs, you might. The really cool part is when you hover your mouse over the scroll bar map on the right, you get a little zoom popup so you can see a preview of the code at those lines:

Zooming on the scroll bar

I don’t set mine up that way, but I can see why people do, and if you’re reading this post, you’re probably interested in that option. Anyhoo, moving on to All Languages, Tabs:

Losing my religion

SSMS defaults to tabs, and so I switch it to “Insert spaces.” Insert religious flame war here. Moving on….

T-SQL, General

Under Transact-SQL, General, I check the box for “Line numbers.”

Query Execution, Advanced

I would just like to point out that no, I do not set my deadlock priority to high. As far as you know.

Results to Grid

Under Query Results, SQL Server, Results to Grid, I change my XML data size to unlimited so that it brings back giant query plans. (Man, does my job suck sometimes.)

A lot of presenters like to check the box for “Display results in a separate tab” and “Switch to results tab after the query executes” because this gives them more screen real estate for the query and results. I’m just really comfortable with Control-R to hide the results pane.

Designer jeans

Under Designers, I uncheck the box “Prevent saving changes that require table re-creation” because I never just hit save when I make changes in a designer anyway. I always click the generate-scripts button, but strangely, you can’t even generate scripts when a table re-creation would be required. Personally, I’m a big fan of recreation. Also, parks.

Object Explorer drag and drop settings

Under Object Explorer, Commands, I change “Surround object names with brackets when dragged” to False. I usually find that when I’m dragging an object from the OE pane over into a query, that I specifically need it without brackets for some reason.

After I’m done in Tools, Options, I go into View, Toolbars, Customize. Click on the Commands tab, then choose Toolbar, SQL Editor:

SQL Editor Toolbar

These are the buttons that get shown when you’re working with T-SQL. I click on the Debug control, take a deep breath, and while I’m clicking the Delete button on the right hand side, I scream at the top of my lungs, “WHO THE HELL THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO PUT THIS BUTTON RIGHT NEXT TO EXECUTE?!?!?”

I have less passionate feelings about the rest of the buttons, but I still end up deleting most of them. I don’t really need a button for Query Options or IntelliSense, and I like a clean, minimal UI. After I’m done cleaning out the SQL Editor toolbar, I click the toolbar dropdown, choose the Standard toolbar, and clean that out too. No, I’m never starting an Analysis Services DMX Query. I certainly don’t need buttons for copy or paste. (The only reason I even leave “Execute” as a button is because sometimes I like showing training class attendees that the execution is about to start.)

Minimal toolbars

The end result is a much smaller set of buttons, and they all fit on a single row even when I’m editing queries.

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