SSMS Vertical block highlighting & editing

Shortcuts & tips from an Impatient DBA #11

This series of short posts will demonstrate some lesser-known features, keyboard shortcuts, and other tips that make my day as a DBA more productive. None of these are groundbreaking super-secret features–they are the little things that I do as part of my daily work that make me more efficient.


SSMS Vertical block highlighting & editing

This one is one of my favorites–it’s one of the things that I do so much, I forget other people don’t know it.

Everyone knows you can use SHIFT + [Left/Right Arrow] to highlight text. But you can also use ALT + SHIFT + [Up/Down/Left/Right Arrow] to select a block of text or even make a vertical selection to insert a block of text on multiple lines. Or you can use ALT + [Mouse Drag] to make a block selection with your cursor.

It’s hard to explain, but really easy to see:

Block Highlighting Demo

This works in both Management Studio and Visual Studio, but it’s not a standard behavior in all applications. In fact, if you fire up Microsoft Word and try to use ALT + SHIFT + [Up/Down Arrow], you’ll get a different hidden trick:

MS Word move paragraph

Yup–ALT+SHIFT+Arrow will move an entire paragraph up/down in your Word document. Same keystrokes, different application, different behavior.