Adding vertical guides to the Visual Studio text editor

Something that I’ve done and liked since VS2005, has been to add vertical guides to the VS text editor. For example:


I like putting them at the first several tab stops as it helps keep track of indenting. I also have one at position 79 so I know where to wrap lines and comments. So, how do you do this? Well, it’s a registry entry. Here are the entries for each version of Visual Studio:

Visual Studio 2005:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftVisualStudio8.0Text Editor]
"Guides"="RGB(230,230,255) 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 79"

Visual Studio 2008:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftVisualStudio9.0Text Editor]
"Guides"="RGB(230,230,255) 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 79"

Visual Studio 2010:

Bad news, here. Since the text editor is VS2010 is now a WPF control – this same registry entry doesn’t have any affect. If I find the equivalent of this for VS2010, I will try to post it up here.

UPDATE (4/24/2010): I found this was reported for VS2010, but it will not be implemented. Although there is a link in there of how you might be able to write your own extension that does this. See:

Meanwhile, I just found that on the Visual Studio Gallery, someone implemented this. It’s just a quick download and the same registry entry (exception "10.0" vs "8.0", below) works!!!


You can either go modify the registry by hand (WARNING: standard “do not modify the registry!” warnings apply) – or you can copy/paste the contents above into a text file and name it something like “VerticalGuides.reg” – then double-click it to run it.

Also, the RGB is what you might expect – this is what sets the color of the line. So (255,0,0) is all red, (0,255,0) is all green, and (0,0,255) is all blue – and combinations of those are somewhere in-between. After that, the comma-separated list is a list of the vertical positions where you want the actual lines.

Lastly, to remove the guides, just create another file called “RemoveVerticalGuides.reg”, paste the contents below and double-click to run:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftVisualStudio8.0Text Editor]

Setting a value to “-“ in a .reg file deletes that entry. Anyhow, I find this very useful so I thought I would post it.

Posted in Uncategorized, Visual Studio

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