The other day I was asked which extensions for Visual Studio I use so in an effort to save keystrokes, I thought I’d list them here so I can refer people to this list. There’s no way this is a comprehensive list and I do add and remove extensions all the time. However, these are the ones that always stay installed because if they aren’t, I can’t use Visual Studio. By the way, these are all free.

Productivity Power Tools

Want a bunch of features for the next version of Visual Studio today? That’s exactly what Microsoft’s Productivity Power Tools are all about. Once you use the awesome Solution Navigator, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Add in the better Tab Well UI, Quick Find, and all the other enhancements and you’re in Visual Studio heaven. This is the single most important extension available.

NuGet Package Manager

The first time you add an open source package to your solution, you’ll thank your lucky stars for this extension. It’s quick and easy so you can focus on what you need to do instead of the integration. What I find even better than the package manager is that NuGet adds a PowerShell window to Visual Studio. I’m using that constantly these days because the $dte variable exposes the Visual Studio automation model to PowerShell.

VS Color Output

This fine extension adds color-coding to output windows in Visual Studio. Seeing build breaks in red and good builds in green, as well as control over all other output, is something that should have been built into Visual Studio already. The latest version 1.1 update fixes a crashing issue people were reporting.

HTML Spell Checker

I can’t spell at all and this extension keeps me from looking like moron as others look at the comments in my code.

Highlight All Occurrences of a Selected Word

A super simple extension that does exactly what the title says. It’s wonderful when doing presentations to highlight a word and for looking at all uses of a global variable. Note that this extension offers no customizability so you’re stuck with the lime green highlight that does not work so well with you wild kids using dark background themes.

So what extensions can you not live without? I’d love to know what extensions you use so either blog about them or add them to the comments.