Maximizing work space with SSMS by using separate results tabs

By:   |   Updated: 2022-03-25   |   Comments (6)   |   Related: > SQL Server Management Studio


In a previous tip, I talked about how to use the word wrap feature in SSMS query editor for enhanced readability of your T-SQL code when using SQL Server Management Studio. Although this is helpful for reading your code there is often the need to analyze your code, the data or designers inside SSMS and being able to see as much as possible. In this tip I will show you other ways to customize options in SSMS that are specific for improved view of code, data, designers and other related panes like execution plans and messages.


When using SSMS extensively it is helpful to make the SSMS environment as user friendly as possible. In this tip we will look at how to get a maximum work environment when using SSMS.

There are two steps for configuring and working in maximum view of SSMS. After implementing these steps, we will also look at some of the shortcut keys to further aid in using SSMS.

The two steps are:

  1. Display results in a separate tab in the query editor
  2. Switch to full screen view of SSMS

Step 1: Display results in a separate tab in the query editor

By default, the query results, messages and execution plans are displayed in tabs just in the lower half of the query editor window. To make the result set view more ample we have to configure it to open in a new separate tab rather than in the lower part of the query editor. This configuration will also cause other tabs in the lower part of the query editor to be displayed in separate tabs as well.

To configure the tabs to be opened as new tab

  • Click on Options in Tools menu
  • A frame will appear. Go to "Query Results" in left pane of frame and click on "Results to Grid"
  • Click on "Display results in a separate tab"
In SSMS Display results in seperate tabs
  • Also you can check the box under it "Switch to results tab after the query executes" to switch to the results after the query executes
  • Click OK and now if you open any new Query editor this configuration will take place.

Step 2: Switch to full screen view of SSMS

Switching to full screen view is fairly easy. Simply use the Shift+Alt+Enter key combination. Also you can choose the Full Screen option from the View menu. All tool bars and explorers will be hidden in this mode. Only the standard tool bar will be displayed. Any explorers that were visible in the normal view will be in the autohide mode. Now you have a lot more area of SSMS before you to make the environment much more user friendly.

Test the settings and use shortcut keys

Now that we have both steps implemented. Open a new query window (Ctrl+N) and write a test script. Press F5 to run the query and verify the result generation is in a separate tab as shown below.

seperate Tabs in full screen view of SSMS

If any execution plan is included, this will also be displayed in a separate execution plan tab. If you use designers, you will also have more space in which to work.

There are some additional shortcut keys that may further facilitate your tasks in the full screen mode of SSMS

  • To switch between different tabs (Editor, Results, Messages) use F6.
  • If you are required to open a new query editor pane press Ctrl+N or open new query editor through the file menu.
  • If you need to use an explorer, you may look for these on the right and left border of SSMS. Press F8 to display auto hidden object explorers. Or you may access it and other explorers through the View menu. In the full view mode you can disable the Auto Hide option of any explorer to include it permanently in the full view mode.
  • To toggle between several opened query windows of SSMS, use the Ctrl+TAB combination.
  • And finally to exit from full screen mode use the Shift+Alt+Enter key combination. Or you can use the Full Screen option on the standard tool bar.

Here is a recap of some of the frequently used key combinations for working in maximum view of SSMS:

Required purpose Key combination
Switch to full screen view of SSMS Shift+Alt+Enter
Switch between different tabs F6
Open new query editor window Ctrl+N
View object explorer F8
Execute any script F5
Open any script file Ctrl+O
Save any script file Ctrl+S
Quit from full screen mode of SSMS to normal view Shift+Alt+Enter
Next Steps
  • SSMS has a lot of customization features provided to facilitate users by presenting a suitable environment for specific types of work. The above mentioned maximum view settings are meant for working with code, data and designers in SSMS.
  • Utilizing the short keys mentioned above will make your flow much easier in the full view mode of SSMS.
  • Results in a new tab can be configured for other result categories like Results to Text and Multiserver results.

sql server categories

sql server webinars

subscribe to mssqltips

sql server tutorials

sql server white papers

next tip

About the author
MSSQLTips author Atif Shehzad Atif Shehzad is a passionate SQL Server DBA, technical reviewer and article author.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

View all my tips

Article Last Updated: 2022-03-25

Comments For This Article

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - 4:06:17 PM - Mike Back To Top (89969)
Thank you!

Saturday, March 3, 2018 - 4:55:46 PM - Jim Back To Top (75342)

Thanks for this!

I made my own shortcut (Alt + /) that I find really easy to use to switch panes. I went here to learn how to do that:

The shortcuts to adjust are Window.NextPane and Window.PreviousPane. For where to use the shortcut in, I did it both for 'Global' and for 'SQL Query Editor' because it seemed just the Global wasn't enough. For some reason, I could get the NextPane one to work, but PreviousPane (ie something like Alt + Shift + /) I just could not get to work. 

In any case hope that helps someone else make this work better because it's easier to switch panes!

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 2:39:51 PM - Ron Krepps Back To Top (59879)

When not using "display results in separate tab" I always use Control + R after finished looking at results or dragging the bar between the query and result panes to increase/decrease so that I have more room to look at either the query or the results.

When using "display results in separate tab" I still have to use a shortcut to switch between the windows but atleast with this method I don't have to resize the panes back and forth constantly and I just use the shortcut to switch the tab.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 - 10:20:41 AM - Jon Back To Top (59243)

I don't understand how this helps increase workspace. Editor and results are still in separate tabs so I have to switch between them. I'm trying to get editor on one monitor and results in another.  


Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 7:26:40 AM - weyler tomaszewski Back To Top (46617)

 Really nice article, just saved my team from me going bananas and throwing things at them.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015 - 1:42:09 PM - Aditya Back To Top (38422)

Many thanks. 

get free sql tips
agree to terms