How to get Visual Studio 2010 to highlight instances of a variable

I'm new using vs2010 I've read that when you click on a variable its suppose to highlight all the instances of that variable in that file and highlight red or show an error as well where the number line is located. How can I get vs2010 to do this because by default it doesn't do that for me and it would be great for the highlighting to work. Thanks.


The Highlight all occurrences of selected word extension in Visual Studio Gallery does just that.

Productivity Power Tools for 2010 in the Visual Studio Gallery can do this, it took me a bit to find out how I did it, but in the Tools->Options... menu, there is a "Productivity Power Tools' drop down.

The default for the 'Words matching the caret location color in the editor' is fully transparent, so it isn't used. A color choice dialog pops up and you can set the color. Just ensure you set an alpha value above 1 to enable it.

The color values I used below are [153, 138, 188, 219] It seems to work well in light themes.

On the Tools menu, click Options.

In the Options dialog box, expand Text Editor , and then complete one of the following tasks:

  • For Visual Basic, expand Basic, click VB Specific, and then select or clear Enable highlighting of references and keywords.
  • For C#, expand C#, click Advanced, and then select or clear Highlight references to symbol under cursor.

From: msdn

In visual Studio 2012, Tools -> Options -> Environment -> Fonts and Colors -> [Text Editor] [Display Itemns] -> Highlighted References -> Item background: Choose the color you want.

Options -> Environment -> Fonts and Colors -> Highlighted Reference then change foreground and background colors of your choice.

in vs 2012: Tools > Options > Env > Fonts and Colors > Text Editor > Highlighted Reference

In case someone else bumps into this, much like I did looking for the same thing, Visual Studio Express editions don't support extensions, which means no selection highlighting in C++. More importantly, if you get an error trying to install an extension, don't worry, or rather, worry for other reasons, it's normal.

nuGet in 2012 is the only exception I've bumped into, but personally I (and I know many like me) have to use 2010.

I came here from google while looking to do the same thing with Visual Studio 2017 community edition. The answers above point out you can turn this on for VB and C#. The option does not exist for C or C++. ie. for C/C++ the option does not exist in advanced settings so you can not right click the variable and select highlight variable.

However, I learned its simpler for C/C++ to get the equivalent behaviour. Simply double click the variable/function to select it. The editor will highlight all instances of the variable or function in the file. Its not limited by blocks. Its highlighted in the entire file.

If you are using VS2013 the following extension would solve this

I think you mean placing a cursor over the line and then pressing F9. This will make the code stop there. Place the mouse cursor over the desired string value and it will pop up....that's the lazy way I do it..:-)

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