Custom SSMS

In my career, I’ve gotten used to working with SSMS on a variety of machines. It seems that as I toiled in various environments, I’d often connect to different SQL Server hosts, or use various consoles that only had the stock Enterprise Manager/SSMS environments installed. I do like larger fonts and a few other settings, so I learned how to quickly change those items, but otherwise I often have just learned to work with the default SSMS.

However that’s not a very efficient way to work. SSMS, and the Visual Studio shell on which it’s based, have a number of ways to customize and modify the application to suit the way you work. You can also even export and import settings to transfer them across machines.

Most software has a variety of settings, though I still don’t change many of them. As I’ve matured in my career, I do look to customize my environments to suit me, but somewhat lightly. There aren’t a lot of changes that I make, but I suspect that’s because of the nature of my work. I tend to do what works, and I don’t often explore other settings. This week I’m wondering if you have tips and tricks.

What customizations or add-ins do you use to customize SSMS (or other development software)?

I’m curious what many of you do and how you do it. I don’t often explore the possibilities as I’m usually concerned with just getting work done. However I’m sure that I’m missing opportunities to work smarter. I’ve never been a big fan of the function keys, though I know some people love them. I’ve tended to rely on templates (and snippets in SQL Prompt) to work faster.

If you’ve got idea, tweaks, or software, let us know. I’m sure that many of us would appreciate suggestions that might help ease our jobs.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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8 Responses to Custom SSMS

  1. I use Mladen’s SSMS Tools Pack (primarily for the history/recovery option), the SQL Sentry Plan Explorer add-in, and I blow up the fonts (Consolas 18 for text editor, grid results and text results) and use a dark theme for the query editor because the defaults are terrible for presenting.


  2. spaghettidba says:

    I use SSMSBoost (it’s a clone of Mladen’s addin, but has the export to Excel killer feature), SQL Sentry Plan Explorer and nothing else. I don’t want to become so spoilt that I cannot work with a vanilla SSMS.


  3. Leigh Waldie says:

    I’m a bit of a fiddler where SSMS is concerned – I’ve currently got a few VSPackages installed :

    Theme Manager – for a better dark theme
    Column Guides – for when you get lost in the forest
    Document Well Plus – for when you want vertical tabs

    And some Addins:

    SSMSBoost – for code formatting, quick access to object definitions and the best feature – Grid exports.
    Custom Addins – some addins I write from time to time to fill gaps – query history, fanfold row colouring in the results grid, generate “create table” script from results grid (really handy for grabbing the output from a SP), Timer repeating query run and my latest is integrating SVN commits, exports and revision diffs into Object Explorer

    One MEF component (I said I like to fiddle):

    Custom written – to highlight with editor adornments where there are code smells such as NOLOCK, SELECT *, Updates/Deletes without filtered sets, missing semicolons.

    I miss them when they are not available.

    As for customisation, I always add “Date Last Modified” to the Object Explorer Details window, where possible.


    • way0utwest says:


      Have you made any addins available? A couple of those sound interesting.


    • mistermagooo says:


      I did make a couple available a while back, but I’ve never really “pushed” them because I don’t fancy the support issues, but I am still thinking of putting them on github – I just need to stop tinkering with them long enough to say they are stable.

      I really wanted to make the MEF / code smells one open source and extend-able, so that people could add their own custom rules to it, but I don’t have that much time to devote to it and other projects seem be further down the road anyway.

      Now, if the community could convince MS to open source SSMS, that would change everything (we could hide those connection passwords from sneaky developers for one thing).


  4. Hi Steve.
    I’m currently using:
    – SSMSToolsPack by Mladen for: regions int the code, debug sections
    – SSMSBoost for custom exporting, searches in grids, preferred connection and change connection with context menu, goto explorer and scripting templates (I’ve posted a custom script template here:
    – SQL Prompt by Red-Gate for intellisense, format, tab coloring
    – SQL Code Guard for code metrics

    Additionally we’ve developed a new addin (which will be put under Red-Gate EcoSystem) that is called SQLTodoExplorer. With this, you can navigate the TODO/ASK/HACK comments on your code. It’s on github:


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