SSMS Setup


November 16, 2015 by Kenneth Fisher

Every time I install a new version of SSMS I make a handful of changes to the default setup. For my own notes, and in case anyone is interested in some of the things you can do with SSMS I thought I’d post a list of those changes.

Physical Layout
  • Move the Object Explorer, Solution Explorer, Template Browser and Registered Server views to the far left as tabs.
  • Change the background color template
    A little while back I read a post by Aaron Bertrand (b/t) about how he uses a darker set of colors for the query windows. I tried it and liked it quite a bit better. Currently I’m using Doug Holland’s version (also mentioned in Aaron’s post).
  • Move status bar to the top of the window and change the information in the tab heading


Keyboard Layout
  • Reset the keyboard shortcuts to default.
    Newer versions of SSMS don’t start out with the set of shortcuts I’m used to. This is easy enough to fix by resetting them to the default.
  • Map the “Change Connection” option to Ctrl-F8
    I frequently re-use the same query window, so I change connections a lot. It goes a lot faster since I mapped it to a shortcut.

    Connection settings


  • Change the shortcut to automatically open the project/solution that holds my scripts
    I collect a fair number of scripts and write even more. Using project(s) helps me keep them organized.
  • Set the scripting option to the version of SQL I most use.
    I like to use the latest version of SSMS. Unfortunately these days that means I’m working with a version of SSMS that is sometimes 3 or even 4 versions ahead of the version of SQL Server I’m connecting to. If I want to use the scripts SSMS is going to generate for me I need to tell it what version of SQL I’m scripting for.
  • Allow the table designer to save changes even if it requires table re-creation
    By default the table designer won’t let you save changes to a table if it thinks it needs to create a new table & copy the data over. For example when you need to add a column into the middle of the table. Since this is one of the places I use the SSMS GUI by preference (over scripting) It’s nice if it works.

9 thoughts on “SSMS Setup

  1. Thanks for the useful tips.
    I also like to add line numbers (Options –> Text Editor –> All Languages –> Line numbers) to the query view.

  2. […] Kenneth Fisher describes his SSMS setup: […]

  3. I use Paul Randal’s suggestions here: – it has some of the same ideas (including line numbers) but you have good points too – thanks!

    • Absolutely. The main difference is that his is specifically for presenting while mine is day to day use. I actually have two separate installs of SSMS (one 2016 & one 2014) on my home computer that have different setups. One for presenting and one for general use.

  4. wilfred says:

    I also enable SQLCmd mode (tools -> options -> query execution -> “By default, open new queries in SQLCmd mode”, which allows me to use my favorite :setvar option

  5. […] If you want to see more about how I have my SSMS set up go here. […]

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