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Format specifiers in C# in the Visual Studio debugger

You can change the format in which a value is displayed in the Watch window by using format specifiers. You can also use format specifiers in the Immediate window, the Command window, in tracepoints, and in source windows. If you pause on an expression in those windows, the result will appear in a DataTip in the specified format display.

To use a format specifier, enter the variable expression followed by a comma and the appropriate specifier.

Set format specifiers

We'll use the following example code:

    int my_var1 = 0x0065;
    int my_var2 = 0x0066;
    int my_var3 = 0x0067;

Add the my_var1 variable to the Watch window while debugging, Debug > Windows > Watch > Watch 1. Next, right-click the variable and select Hexadecimal Display. Now the Watch window shows the value 0x0065. To see this value as a decimal integer rather than a hexadecimal integer, add the decimal format specifier , d in the Name column after the variable name. The Value column now shows 101.

Screenshot of the Visual Studio Watch window with one line that shows my_var1, d with a value of 101 and a type of int.

You can view and select from a list of available format specifiers by appending a comma (,) to the value in the Watch window.


Format specifiers

The following table describes the C# format specifiers for the Visual Studio debugger.

Specifier Format Original Watch Value Displays
ac Force evaluation of an expression, which can be useful when implicit evaluation of properties and implicit function calls is turned off. Message "Implicit function evaluation is turned off by the user" <value>
d decimal integer 0x0065 101
dynamic Displays the specified object using a Dynamic View Displays all the members of the object, including the Dynamic View Displays only the Dynamic View
h hexadecimal integer 61541 0x0000F065
nq string with no quotes "My String" My String
nse Specifies behavior, not format. Evaluates the expression with "No side effects". If the expression can’t be interpreted and can only be resolved by an evaluation (such as a function call), you will see an error instead. N/A N/A
hidden Displays all public and non-public members Displays public members Displays all members
raw Displays item as it appears in the raw item node. Valid on proxy objects only. Dictionary<T> Raw view of Dictionary<T>
results Used with a variable of a type that implements IEnumerable or IEnumerable<T>, usually the result of a query expression. Displays only the members that contain the query result. Displays all the members Displays the members the meet the conditions of the query