General Notes

Official Site


It’s free, but there are limitations, and you need to install one for different types of projects.
E.G., desktop, web development, etc.



Build menu missing

In 2013 Web Express (at least), the Build menu is not enabled by default.
Tools >> Settings >> Expert Settings will expose the build menu
As seen at StackOverflow




See VisualStudio#shortcuts



Color Schemes



VS Command Prompt

see also:


NOTE: this is not purely for the Express version, but some of the below is how to add it to Express


Working at the Command Line

In days gone by, developers spent most (sometimes all) of their time at the command line. The main reason for working at the command line was that older programming environments didn't provide an IDE. Newer products do provide an IDE that can save considerable time and effort when used correctly. However, there's still good reason to work at the command line: convenience and automation. Instead of killing your mouse finger all of the time, try using the command line instead.



Tools >> VS Command Prompt ships with the major editions, but not express. IT’s not a new shell, but the standard cmd.exe with some EnvironmentVariables setup -- through vcvarsall.bat


Interestingly, vcvarsall.bat only ships with the c++ edition, and resided in the Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC folder.


So if you haven’t installed VS c++ Express -- and you want to access the shell, you probably have to install VS c++ Express; that’s what I did, anyway.



  1. Select Tools > External Tools in Visual Studio.
  2. Click the Add button.
  3. Fill in the Title - I used Visual Studio Command &Prompt
    • & Makes P a shortcut key; I originally used C, but that conflicts with the existing shortcut for Customize
  4. Command: cmd.exe
  5. Arguments: /k ""<\path\to\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat
    • /k keeps a secondary session active so the window doesn’t close.
    • adjust 10.0 as required for your version [this was originally for VS 2010?]
  6. Pick an Initial directory. I use $(ProjectDir).
  7. Click OK



adapted from’s the visual studio command prompt


This answer has been adapted slightly for Stack Overflow at and


It appears to work for most version of Visual Studio, not just Express.



See Also




Category tags

Programming IDEs VisualStudio vs2013