Russ Thomas – SQL Judo

The Art of SQL Server Database Administration, Development, and Career Skills for the Technically Minded

SSMS Day 1: Know Your Options

31 Days of SSMS: Table of Contents

Welcome to day 1 in my 31 day series on SSMS. Today we’ll focus on options and settings.

Do you know your options? Tools->Options may seem like a simple topic but knowing what’s in here will absolutely make your life easier. Every time a new version of SSMS comes out you should look around for anything new.

Take 15 minutes and just browse what’s in there. Seriously – do it. The discover of Query Shortcuts and Hotkey Assignments alone is worth your time. What are Query Shortcuts you ask?

SSMS is already setup with a hotkey/query shortcut to cause CTRL+1 to run sp_who against your current connection. In my own environment I went a step further and set Ctrl+0 to Machanic’s sp_whoisactive. Now when I press Ctrl+0 sp_whoisactive automatically runs.

Tools->Options->Environment->Keyboard->Query Shortcuts



While this option line item is dedicated to creating custom query shortcuts for executing TSQL commands. You can also set up your own custom hotkeys under the keyboard section just above it for operations within SSMS.

For example, to assign Alt-S to the Window.Split action within SSMS simply find that command, place the cursor in the press shortcut keys box and hit Alt-S. If your specific action is already assigned to a hotkey you’ll get a warning in the field below. Once you click Assign it will create the hotkey (or replace it, already assigned to something else). Hint: We’ll go over what Window.Split does on day 3.


Query shortcuts and hotkeys is literally less than 5% of what you’ll find under Tools->Options. What else is in there? Far more than I’ll cover in a single post but for a tiny sampling.

Auto Recover: Is it set up like you want? This feature might save many hours of work at some point in your future. You should probably check.


Fonts & Colors: Modify how errors are highlighted, change what breakpoints look like, make the query text font whatever you want. If you’re going to spend a lot of time in SSMS might as well make it appealing to your own eye.

Extensions: SSMS can work with a lot of file types that aren’t necessarily database scripts. You can modify how the studio works with files based on their extensions here.

Status Bars and Tabs: Control what get’s displayed, where they are displayed, and specify different colors based on single or group connections. We’ll talk more about group connections later.

I’m skipping many very important options. A good percentage of these will be hit later as we dig deeper into SSMS. Tomorrow for example we’ll start talking about everything you may or may not know about the query edit window. There are a whole pile of options dedicated just to querying.

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