Using Solution Explorer

Solution Explorer allows you to view items and perform item management tasks in a solution or a project. It also allows you to use the Visual Studio editors to work on files outside the context of a solution or project.

Hierarchical Display

A single solution and its projects appear in a hierarchical display that provides updated information about the status of your solution, projects, and items. This allows you to work on several projects at the same time.

For more information about


Projects and items

How to: Identify How a Project Manages Files

Creating, displaying, and managing external files in the Miscellaneous Files folder

How to: Manage Files in the Miscellaneous Files Folder

Creating and managing build-included files and other items in the Solution Items folder.

How to: Add and Remove Solution Items

Items and Containers

The management of items displayed in Solution Explorer is based on an item's relationship with project and solution containers. Items can be related in the following ways:

  • As project items, which appear under a project folder in Solution Explorer, for example, forms, source files, and classes.

  • As solution items, which appear in the Solution Items folder of Solution Explorer.

  • As miscellaneous files, which are files that are not associated with either a project or a solution and are displayed in the Miscellaneous Files folder.

Solution Explorer is flexible in that it allows you to work independently of a project; you can edit and create files without a project. Solution Explorer displays these files in the Miscellaneous Files folder. You can also work on files that are associated only with the solution. These items are displayed in the Solution Items folder.

For more information about


Projects and Items

Item Management in Projects


Solutions as Containers


Projects as Containers

Items in Projects

Project Items

Items in the Solutions Folder

Solution Items

Files in the Miscellaneous Files Folder

Miscellaneous Files

Item Management Commands

Solution Explorer supports a variety of management commands. For any specified item, the project type determines which management commands are available. For example, if you select a file in a Visual C# Web project, you can use the Delete command to delete the file permanently. However, if you select a file in a Visual C++ project, you can remove the link between the file and the project, but this does not delete the physical file from storage.

For more information about


Copy command

How to: Copy Items

Move command

How to: Move Items

Link command

How to: Add Existing Items to a Project

Remove and Delete commands

How to: Remove, Delete, and Exclude Items

Unload and Reload commands

How to: Unload and Reload Projects

Save As command

How to: Manage Files with Encoding

Rename command

How to: Rename Solutions, Projects, and Items

Refresh command

How to: Refresh Items in Solution Explorer

Open With command

How to: Change or Add a Default Editor

See Also


Item Management in Projects


Solution Explorer

Other Resources

Managing Solutions, Projects, and Files