How to disable symbol loading when debugging a Visual C++ program?

I am using Visual Studio 2008. I don't need to debug some DLLs in my project, so can I disable symbol loading when debugging a Visual C++ program? Does it help to make startup time faster when debugging?

The symbols are all local, so I don't have those slow loading problem, just want to make debugging faster and faster.

For example I am using Qt libraries, when I hit "Starting Debugging", the Output window shows that the symbols for Qt libraries are loaded. If VS can stop loading those symbols, the debugging startup time should be faster. Of course, I still want VS to load symbol for my executable.


Just found out that Visual Studio 2010 actually do what I want.

To load only the symbol for your executable file, without loading other symbols (eg: DLLs):

  1. Go to Tools->Options->Debugging->Symbols
  2. Click "Only specified modules"
  3. Clear "Always load symbols located next to modules"
  4. Click "Specify modules"
  5. Click the new icon
  6. Enter your executable filename (eg: my-awesome-app.exe)

Also found out that Visual Studio 2010 seems to perform better than Visual Studio 2008 when debugging. At least the IDE layout switches back faster when the debugging is stopped.

I am not sure what you mean by 'startup'. I assume you are talking about the launching of the actual application. The time to launch the target application is expensive regardless of mode you launch it. It may be less in Release but that will be negligible.

Turning off all symbol paths as mentioned in the other solution is a viable option. However, I am not sure why you are debugging if you do not want symbols for your launched application. Without the applications symbols you will not be able to see where you are in the source code when you are debugging.

If you are looking for a faster debugging experience you can use WinDbg. It comes with the Windows SDK but can also be downloaded seperately. If is a faster UI than Visual Studio, but it is much more cumbersome to use if you are more comfortable with a GUI. WinDbg uses commands to perform almost all tasks, but you can do some great debugging and it is faster in many cases compared to Visual Studio. In the event you want to debug C++\CLI or any managed application (e.g. C#), I would stick with Visual Studio. There is an extension in WinDbg called SOS, but it requires some advanced debugging experience to use correctly.

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