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Installing and Managing Visual Studio Tools and Extensions

The Visual Studio 2010 Extension Manager lets you install a variety of tools and extensions for Visual Studio. To open Extension Manager, on the Tools menu, click Extension Manager. You can also download extensions from Web sites, or get them from other developers.

Visual Studio 2010 also lets you install third-party templates; in the New Project dialog box, in the Templates pane, click Search Online Templates.


If you are developing an extension, we recommend that you uninstall previous versions of extensions in progress, and uninstall or disable potentially conflicting extensions to prevent conflicts during development.

Extension Manager UI

The Extension Manager window is divided into three panes. The left pane lets you select by group: installed extensions, new extensions from the online gallery, or updates to installed extensions.

The extensions in the selected group are displayed in the middle pane. You can use various filters to sort the list.

When you select an extension in the middle pane, information about it appears in the right pane. If the extension is not yet installed, you can download it; if it is already installed, you can uninstall it, enable it, or disable it.

The Extension Manager window also includes a search box. Depending on the selection in the left pane, you can search for installed extensions, the online gallery, or available updates.

Extension Manager can install extensions from the Visual Studio Gallery on the MSDN website. These extensions may be packages, templates, or other components that add functionality to Visual Studio.

Extension Types

Extension Manager supports extensions in the VSIX package format, which may include project templates, item templates, toolbox items, Managed Extension Framework (MEF) components, and VSPackages. Extension Manager can also load and install MSI-based extensions, but it cannot enable or disable them. Visual Studio Gallery contains both VSIX and MSI extensions.

Dependency Handling

If a user tries to install an extension that has dependencies, the installer verifies that those dependencies are already installed. If they are not installed, Extension Manager shows the user a list of dependencies that must be installed before the extension can be installed.

Installing Without Using Extension Manager

Extensions that have been packaged in .vsix files may be available in locations other than the Visual Studio Gallery. Extension Manager cannot detect these files. However, you can install a .vsix file by double-clicking it and then following the Setup instructions. When the extension is installed, you can use Extension Manager to enable it, disable it, or remove it.

Extension Types Not Supported by Extension Manager

Visual Studio continues to support deployment technologies such as the Visual Studio Content Installer (VSI) and the Microsoft Installer (MSI), but not through Extension Manager. The VSI format can be used for macros, add-ins, code snippets, and certain other Visual Studio extension types. The MSI format, which is used extensively for applications, can also be used for extensions. Both .vsi files and .msi files comprise complete packages that can be distributed, and that can be installed by double-clicking.



How to: Install and Remove Visual Studio Tools and Extensions

Shows how to use Extension Manager to add and remove Visual Studio extensions.

How to: Disable and Re-enable Visual Studio Tools and Extensions

Shows how to use Extension Manager to enable and disable Visual Studio extensions.

How to: Find and Install Templates Located Online

Shows how to use the New Project dialog box to add project templates.

Visual Studio Extension Deployment

Compares the different strategies for deploying Visual Studio extensions.

How to: Find and Install Community Components

Explains how to find and install components in the VSI format.

Extension Manager Administrative Settings

Describes registry keys that system administrators can use to control how extensions are loaded.