Copy a C# project


[example]

Sometimes you might want to copy a C# project so you can save the current version or so you can modify it for another purpose. Unfortunately, when you copy a C# project, the copied program does not automatically update the project’s name. For example, you could have the howto_copy_project project in the directory my_new_project. The project, solution, namespace, and other values inside the project will keep their old name. If you open the new and original projects at the same time, it’s easy to become confused about which version is which.

To copy a C# project, copy its directory and all of the files that it contains. You do not need to copy these subdirectories:

  • bin
  • obj
  • .vs (in newer versions)

Those files are created as necessary by Visual Studio. (If you want to zip up the project to save or email to someone, be sure to remove those subdirectories to save space. You may notice that the zip files on the C# Helper web site do not include those subdirectories.)

After you copy the project, you need to update all of the references to the original project’s name. Follow these steps:

  1. Copy the program (say howto_copy_project) and all of its files into the new directory (say my_new_project). You don’t need to copy the bin, obj, or .vs subdirectories because Visual Studio creates them as needed, but if the project contains any other subdirectories, copy them, too.
  2. Open the copied project in Visual Studio.
  3. In Solution Explorer, right-click the project name, select rename, and enter the new name (my_new_project).
  4. In Solution Explorer, right-click the solution name, select rename, and enter the new name (my_new_project).
  5. In versions of Visual Studio before VS 2022:
    1. Click on the project in Solution Explorer, open the Project menu, and select the Properties command at the very bottom.
    2. Change the Assembly Name and Default Namespace to the new name (my_new_project).
    3. Still on the Properties page, click Assembly Information. Change the Title and Project to the new name (my_new_project) and click OK.
    4. Save the project.
  6. In all versions of Visual Studio:
    1. Open a source code file (such as Program.cs or MainWindow.xaml.cs) in the code editor.
    2. Find the namespace statement at the top of the file. Right-click the namespace name (howto_copy_project), select Rename, type the new name (my_new_project), and press Enter.
    3. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace dialog. Replace the original name (howto_copy_project) with the new name (my_new_project) for the current project.
  7. Save the project.

At this point the copied project should be its own entity with no signs of the original project’s name.


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About RodStephens

Rod Stephens is a software consultant and author who has written more than 30 books and 250 magazine articles covering C#, Visual Basic, Visual Basic for Applications, Delphi, and Java.
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