HOWTO: Changing the source code of Visual Studio Add-in project templates

Author: Carlos J. Quintero (Microsoft MVP) Applies to: Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
Date: July 2013   Microsoft Visual Studio 2008
      Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
      Microsoft Visual Studio 2012

If you generate Visual Studio add-ins frequently, you may want to change the source code of the project templates used by the Visual Studio Add-in wizard. For example, you may want to change the default source code, default references, default project properties, etc. so that you don't need to change them by hand each time that you create a new add-in.

More Information

When you click the Visual Studio Add-in project template in the Other Project Types \ Extensibility node of the New Project dialog, rather than generating a project directly a wizard is shown that asks some questions and then it proceeds to generate the add-in project.

Physically, that wizard is a compiled dll (ExtWizrd.dll file of the folder "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio <version>\Common7\IDE") and cannot be changed. However, the project and project items templates that it uses are external to the wizard and can be modified. The locations are the following (be sure to make a backup copy before modifying them):

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio <version>\Common7\IDE\Extensibility Projects\<NetLanguage>\<Locale>

(there is also a copy in the parent folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio <version>\Common7\IDE\Extensibility Projects\<NetLanguage>, but the wizard uses the one in the <Locale> folder)


<version> is:

  • "8" for Visual Studio 2005
  • "9.0" for Visual Studio 2008
  • "10.0" for Visual Studio 2010
  • "11.0" for Visual Studio 2012

<NetLanguage> is:

  • "VBasic" for VB.NET
  • "CSharp" for C#
  • Etc.

<Locale> is:

  • "1033" for English
  • Etc.

Note: those folders are hidden so you need to configure Windows Explorer to see hidden items.

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