Lately I’ve been speaking at local user groups about many of the exciting new features in Visual Studio 2012. Since there is so much to know and learn about VS 2012, I decided to create a collection of blog posts with many of the tips. This collection of posts will include features that are new to VS 2012 as well as some existing features as well. To view all of the VS 2012 tips posted so far, click here.

Visual Studio 2012 has got a lot of great features. Some of them are really innovative and interesting. I don’t think of the Add Reference Dialog improvements as anything but “why in the world did this work so poorly before?”. I’m guessing the Visual Studio team had some reason but let’s face it, the old Add Reference Dialog just plain sucked. One of the biggest problems with it was that it was very slow to load. I’m happy to report that the new Dialog loads really fast! Try it out, I am sure you will be please with the results.

Access it as you did before, right click a project and then click “add reference”:


Like I said, it loads up really fast. As you can see, in the middle section is the complete list of assemblies from the .net framework. Note that the items with checkmarks have already been added to my project. Just as you’d expect, you can add references to assemblies, other projects in your solution and COM Libraries. And of course, you can browse your system for other .dlls.

When you use this the first few times I expect your get bit by the same snag that I did (and still do sometimes). See the screenshot below… Notice that I clicked on Microsoft.Build to add the reference. You can see it highlighted in blue. If I click the OK button I’ll be disappointed with the results as my reference will not be added. What is needed is either to double click the item in the list or click the checkbox itself. Either way you’ll see the checkbox is then checked. Now you can hit OK. By the way, unchecking an item in the list will remove it from your project.



I hope you find this tip helpful. To see more VS 2012 Tips, just click here.

One thought on “Visual Studio 2012 Tip: Add Reference Dialog

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