Everytime I get a new workstation, I immediately install the latest version of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). As soon as I have it installed my next step is to make these changes to make better use of my screen real estate. All of these are my personal preferences. Use the ones you want and explore the other settings to make your experience your own.

Tips 1,2 & 3 (Limit tab info)

Start by going to Options under the Tools menu.

Go down to the Editor Tab and Status Bar section.

Here you can see that information is duplicated between the tab and the status bar at the bottom. Even with a single tab, if the server or database name are too long you get elipses instead. Since you can’t see all the information in the tab anyway, there really isn’t any point in trying to put it all in there.

Since the information is presented in the status bar where you have lots of real estate, I prefer to limit what is shown on the tab. In the “Tab Text” section on the right side, I change Include database name,Include login name and Include server name to False.

All that is left is the filename. The asterisk indicates the file is not saved. Normal behavior for tabs is to show as many as fit in the window and hide the rest to be accessed from the window menu or ctrl+tab. Pinning the tab keeps it from getting pushed off the screen as new queries are opened.

Tip 4 & 5 (Where new tabs go)

When you open a new query tab, the default behavior for SSMS is to put that tab in the left most position a move the other tabs to the right. The right most tab drops off and has to be accessed by the window menu or ctrl+tab repeatedly to cycle through the tabs.

If I open a new tab in a browser or VSCode, it appears on the right. I have become used to this behavior and SSMS throws me off when it doesnn’t behave the same way. To change that, go to the Tabs and Windows under the Environment section. Check the Insert new tabs to the right of existing tabs and it now behave like your other programs. To further conserve real estate check the Show pinned tabs in a seperate row. When you pin a tab, SSMS creates a new row of tabs above the existing tabs. By selective use of pins you can get two full rows of tabs.

Tip 6 (Line numbers)

Under the Text Editor section, you can go to the All Languages section to check the line numbers box or pick and choose between Plain Text, Transact-SQL and XML

Tip 7 (Vertical Scroll Bar)

Most modern editors have a feature that displays a miniature representation of you code off to the right with some indicator of where you’re working at the moment. You can then easily navigate up and down through your code and a different shaded block will indicate the portion that is viewable in your current window. SSMS has this feature as well. To enable it, simply go to the Scroll Bars section under Text Editor and switch from bar mode to map mode, choose whether you want the tooltip or not and finally how wide you want the map to be.

Here’s what it will look like after you enable map mode. If you have the preview tooltip enabled, you will be able to see a zoomed in portion of your code.

Tip 8 (Startup)

When SSMS first starts, you are presented with a login box to pick the server and all that goes with that. One of the options that can be configured is what gets loaded on startup. If you choose an option that includes query windows or Object explorer, you will still be presented the login box. I prefer to start with Open empty environment. When I first login, I start up all my usual programs and place them where I want them on my screen and I like SSMS to start up and not need any attention until I need to use it.

Bonus Tip

While SSMS theme options are very limited, there are a lot of parts that are configurable. Under Environment the Fonts and Colors section gives you the choice to pick a new font, change colors of components or change the font size. In the drop down list for Show settings for:, you can see the other parts of SSMS that you can change the look and feel for. On a new install, I always change the Line Number colors to something that stands out to more to me. You can play around with the other items and their colors to come up with a theme equivalent. If you want a dark theme, an easier route and head over here where Aaron Bertrand has a .vssettings file for download that you can import directly into SSMS.

So there you have it. Hopefully you can use some or all of these tips to improve your work environment. Make SSMS your own.

Thanks for reading!