Debugging in Visual Studio

Debugging in Visual Studio

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Basic Shortcuts

F5 : Start debugging
Control + F5 : Start without debugging
Shift + F5 : Stop debugging
Control + Shift + F5 : Stop, rebuild and start debugging
Control + Alt + P : Attach to process

Control + Alt + Break : Break (Debug > Break All)
F10 : Step over
F11 : Step into
Shift + F11 : Step out
Control + F10 : Run to cursor
Control + Shift + F10 : Set next statement
Alt + Num * : See current statement

Enable “Edit & continue” in Tools > Options > Debugging.
Other interesting settings:

  • Step over properties and operators (Managed only)
  • Just My Code (Enable to step over system, framework and other non-user calls)


Control + Alt + E : Control on which exceptions to break with the Exceptions window
Control + Alt + B : Breakpoints window
F9 : Toggle breakpoint
Control + F9 : Enable/Disable breakpoint
Control + Shift + F9 : Delete all breakpoints
Control + B : New function breakpoint dialog

Useful when you want to add a breakpoint to every method with a specific name.

Alt + F9 , C : Breakpoint condition
Alt + F9 , L : Breakpoint label

Assigning labels to breakpoints could be handy together with the export/import functionality?

Breakpoints in DEBUG mode only:

using System.Diagnostics;
Debug.Assert(true, "Conditional break");


When you need to do some calculations for your assertions put it in a method decorated with the ConditionalAttribute("DEBUG").


Hover over a variable to see its value. Double click on it to change its value. Override ToString() or use the DebuggerDisplayAttribute() to display something better than GetType().FullName for your own classes.


class Counter
    public int count = 4;

    public int[] y => new[] {1, 2, 3};

More control with DebuggerTypeProxy:

Use this attribute when you need to significantly and fundamentally change the debugging view of a type, but not change the type itself.


Shift + F9 : QuickWatch window for variable on cursor (blocking)
Control + Alt + C : Call stack window
Control + Alt + W , 1-4 : Watch windows 1-4
Control + Alt + A : Command window

Locals and Autos

Open from menu:

  • Debug > Windows > Locals
  • Debug > Windows > Autos

Can see member return values in the Autos window.
Text in red: variable value changed since last evaluation.

Output Window

Menu: Debug > Windows > Output
Control what is written to the Output Window with Tools > Options > Debugging > Output Window

Debug.WriteIf(true, "msg");
Debug.WriteLineIf(false, "msg");

Immediate window

Control + Alt + I : Immediate window

Can access local variables and call methods. Even Linq queries are possible here.


One of my favourite bloggers, Phil Haack created the Visual Studio visualizer Encourage.

haacked/encourage : A bit of encouragment added to Visual Studio


ReadableExpressions (download)

agileobjects/ReadableExpressions : Readable views of Expression Trees

DataTable Visualizer (download)

MgSam/DataTableVisualizer : A non-modal, dockable, searchable DataTable visualizer

Image Visualizer (download)

aberus/ImageVisualizer :

Entity Visualizer (download)

kpol/EntityVisualizer : Display SQL source code generated by Entity Framework

LINQBridgeVs (download)

codingadventures/LINQBridgeVs : Bridge between a Visual Studio debugging session and LINQPad.

Not open source:

New in Visual Studio

Visual Studio 2017

Run to click:
Run to click

Visual Studio 2019

  • Promises “significant” performance improvements in stepping
  • Yipiee, they added search to Autos, Locals and Watch windows! (Options > Debugging > Search)
  • They also managed to cut 25px from the title bar and still make it look pretty slick.

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