Exploring SSMS

I’ll cover top menu, briefly introduce Registered Servers window and mention the most frequent sections of Object Explorer.

Top menu

Now the most important (and underrated) menu is the Quick Launch in the top right corner. From there you can just start typing what you are after.

Going left to right, we have:


Here you’ll find the typical New, Open, Save and Exit options. Nothing too exciting here.

File menu


Typical text editing and navigation options found in most editors. I recommend to use the hotkeys as much as possible and then this menu will become obsolete.

There is one interesting option:

  • Cycle Clipboard Ring
    • By pressing Ctrl + Shift + V you can access text previously saved to clipboard.
Edit menu


From this menu you can open the toolbar type of windows and edit toolbars as well. These are the main tools you will use:

  • Object Explorer
  • Registered Servers
  • Properties Window

But since you will open them once and keep them persisted (or learn the hotkeys). This is another menu you won’t frequent.

View menu


This option only becomes available when you have a New Query window opened.

As the name says – here you’ll find all query related commands.

But since the same commands are on the default toolbar just below the menu. We will ignore this menu most of the time as well.

Query menu
Query toolbar

Project and Debug

I’ll cover these two menus at once because I never use them. Since Project menu has no items (at least with no project opened). We’ll go straight to Debug menu then.

Debug has options start Debug, breakpoint and stepping through the code. But you never want to use this because when you start debugging, everyone else is blocked and waits for you and that is a huge problem. So never do it, there are better options how to debug.


A useful menu after a while, I’ll cover few options:

SQL Server Profiler – this is one of the debugging tools I have been talking about, but it is almost legacy now – instead we will cover Extended Events in a future article.

Options menu

Database Engine Tuning Advisor – to be fair I’ve never used it. I only had to clean up after it.

Code Snippets Manager – this tool is somehow lacking and that’s why there are plenty of commercial tools that make work with Snippets and ItelliSense much easier.

Import and Export Settings… – in the next article I’ll describe my recommended settings and this option will make it a one time operation even when you switch workstations.

Options – Everything else is in there. Even though I rather use the Quick Launch menu.


You can find some tab navigation here. But the most important option for me is the New Vertical Tab Group.

When I want to compare some code side by side or run code from separate sessions (for example blocking and deadlocking tests) this is my go to option.


Not much to say here. Typical help section with About section, where you can find your current version of SSMS.

Registered Servers

If you are working in multi-server environment, this is where you’ll save shortcuts to your saved server.

In a future post, I’ll cover how to set a default database after connect and recommend a colour scheme so you won’t run DEV code on production by accident.

Object Explorer

Here you will find all server related info in a structured format. Sometimes to get to the settings you must right-click and select properties.

Server object has the following structure, I’ve omitted some settings that aren’t that common, so you’ll have to do some exploring as well. Also, some folders can be expanded only to be empty, so don’t get fooled by that.

  • Databases
    • Tables
      • Columns
      • Keys
      • Constraints
      • Triggers
      • Indexes
      • Statistics
    • Views
      • Columns
    • Synonyms
    • Programmability – this is where you will spend most of the time in the begining
      • Stored Procedures
      • Functions
        • Table-valued Functions
        • Scalar-valued Functions
      • Database Triggers
      • Assemblies
      • Types
      • Rules
      • Defaults
      • Plan Guides
      • Sequences
    • Query Store – must be enabled in a database settings
    • Service Broker
    • Storage
    • Security
      • Users
      • Roles

Lots of these options won’t be used so much after we learn some DMVs.

Looking forward

This post only mentioned the options and not much else. I will describe individual option when I get to cover them properly.

Next time we’ll start writing some very basic SQL code and after that I’ll throw in some pro tips for productivity, writting style and SSMS settings.

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