Did you know… How to enable Emacs and Brief Emulations in Visual Studio 2005

Go to Tools – Options – Keyboard and set “Keyboard mapping scheme” to either Brief or Emacs.  Press OK.

Whenever you are in the Editor, you’ll experience the editor emulation.  To get back to the Visual Studio defaults, just set the “Keyboard mapping scheme” back to Default.

Happy Editing!

Comments (13)

  1. mwories says:

    How about vi mode?

  2. erik says:

    if vstudio had a vi text editing mode i’d be in heaven.

  3. What about vi[m] emulations?

  4. Mike Dunn says:

    Brief! Wow, that takes me back a ways.

    I still have it here on my system at home, but it doesn’t seem to want to run under XP. Not that I would remember any of the keyboard commands…

  5. saraford says:

    sorry y’all, but vi emulations is a known feature request and we’re investigating it for future releases. =(

    Let the "emacs versus vi" discussion wars begin!

  6. Dylan Lingelbach - MS says:

    To what Mike Dunn said above about Brief not running on XP. If you care enough to try to get it to run, you can get Microsoft Virtual PC, install DOS and then install Brief. Works like a charm :-).

    Biggest drawback I’ve seen is that when you hold down a key, the repeat rate speeds up way too quickly. So holding down the right arrow key will get you to the end of the line in about half a second.

    I have to admit that I never used Brief on DOS so I don’t know if that is desired behavior or not. Most likely the repeat rate increase algorithm relied on the processor speed. And thanks to Moore…

    Of course you can always try the Brief emulations in VS2005 😉


  7. Dr. Cogent says:

    The Brief emulation in VS 2005 is a joke. As a real Brief user for many years, even the simple things are not supported. Cutting a line to the clipboard with the keypad (-) key doesn’t work like it should. It cuts a single character, and not an entire line.

  8. Daniel Coles says:

    Yeah, I agree that the Brief emulation in VS 2005 is almost unusable.  The failure to cut a line to clipboard using ‘-‘ is irritating, and also the way that smart-formatting is erratic with Brief emulation enabled.  I also prefer to re-enable backspace at the start of the line – as was permitted in DevStudio 6.0.

    I’ve already tried switching it off, and defining all of my keyboard mappings individually, but unfortunately commands like Edit.BriefSelectColumn only work when the "Brief" mapping mode is defined.  It is also impossible to assign the numbers pad ‘-‘ and ‘+’ keys to commands.

    This has been quite frustrating.  Is there any hope of MS producing a patch, before I give up on Brief Emulation entirely?


  9. Apparently emacs is in 2005 but not in 2003?  Is there a configuration file to load to add emacs keys in VS 2003?

    Thanks for the blog.


  10. saraford says:

    Sorry, editor emulations are only available in VS 2005.  However, there may be some add-ins / keybindings out there written by 3rd parties for VS 2003, but i’m not sure.


  11. Jakob G. Thomsen says:

    There’s a tiny, but frustrating problem with the Emacs-emulation. The tab-function doesn’t insert a tab, when you’re on an empty line.

    If you go back to the Default mode the Edit.InsertTab is working fine (ie. inserting a cute tab).

    As far as I can see it, when you’re in Emacs-mode it only jumps up to the first character on the line, where the marker is.

    I havent found anything to fix it on the net.

  12. Dylan Lingelbach - MSFT says:


    We made the Tab key function as "smart indent" in Emacs mode.  Some people weren’t happy with this and it also exposed some bugs in our formatting engine.

    I’ve posted some macros here:


    If you rebind the tab key to the EmacsInsertTab macro, it should take care of your problem.



  13. Uffe says:

    Apparently there is a vi emulation addin called viemu.
    I haven’t tried it myself though.