Resetting Visual Studio’s experimental instance to its super-clean state

In order to create Visual Studio extensions (VSIX), one needs to  download the Visual Studio SDKs (freely available) from the Microsoft’s website. Those  of you doing the VSIX work are probably already aware of the Visual  Studio’s “experimental” instance.

This experimental instance of Visual studio runs just like an  isolated instance, having its own registry values, settings, extensions,  etc. This allows testing of extensions without affecting the  development environment of Visual Studio at all.

Sometimes the “experimental” instance gets corrupted, may be due to  installations of some extensions, some registry values getting  corrupted, or for any other reason, whatsoever. Or may be, we just want  to test the extension with some custom settings and then revert back to  the original clean settings.

The Visual Studio 2010, 2012 and 2013 come with a tool to reset the  settings which is available from the start menu, named, “Reset the  Visual Studio xxxx Experimental instance”. That does not, however, give  the pristine environment that was available the first time before even  testing the first extension.

To get a super clean instance, follow these steps. These are for  Visual Studio 2012, but same can be followed for VS2010 and VS2013 also.

  1. Close all running instances of Visual Studio.
  2. Delete the entire folder %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0Exp60.
  3. Go to Run, type regedit and press Enter.
  4. Delete the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0Exp60.
  5. Delete the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\VisualStudio\11.0Exp60_Config.
  6. Run the command “Reset the Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Experimental instance” from your start menu.

Now, the experimental instance of Visual Studio is reset to its super  clean instance. If you frequently keep developing extensions, you would  appreciate the install/reset experience provided by VS2010 onwards. If  not, resetting does not sound that scary, does it 😉 . So without worrying about the possibility of experimental instance  getting corrupted permanently, keep developing extensions. Happy  extending 😀 .

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