SSMS Configurations for SQL Server Speakers

Last week I saw this post from Tim Mitchell (b|t) thanks to Brent Ozar’s weekly links (which I recommend you to subscribe if not already) where Tim explains his setup for SQL Server Management Studio and I certainly agree with those settings because are great.

But I missed some settings I’d recommend maybe not for daily use, but for speakers that use SSMS during their presentations, so this post is intended to be an add-in to Tim’s post, not a replacement at all.

My frustration

I do not consider myself a very experienced speaker, I have done it and I do it every time I can, but being busy with the rest of my life, that does not happen as often as I’d like.

But I am a really experienced attendee. I have already attended a lot of sessions in small rooms, big rooms, with big screens and small screens, and also online webinars and if there is something I always appreciate very much, that is when the speaker has the right SSMS settings so every attendee can enjoy when it’s time for a SQL demo.

For me it is very frustrating when someone starts browsing lines and lines of code with just the same resolution and font size that he or she uses everyday, because presenters sit down about how far from their screen? 1 meter (~3 ft.) away max?

But the audience are way further than that, and even if the screen is proper size, using small fonts might difficult seeing everything from the back of the room.

It doesn’t matter you ask if everyone can see it right, because people tend to be shy (sometimes not) and might not tell you, but they will struggle when it’s time to see your code or the results of that query you just run.

Or if it’s an online presentation, where all attendees are in front of their computers the same as is the presenter, small characters might look blurry because of the quality of the video.

Changing Font Size

First and the most important is the font size, you can make it bigger using Ctrl + wheel in the text editor (and messages tab), but you can obviously change the default in SSMS options. Also there are some font sizes that you can only change through these settings.

My recommendation is to change the font size to a minimum of 14 for the following

  • Text Editor
  • Grid Results
  • Text Results

Text Editor and Text Results can be changed any time up or down with immediate effect, but the “Grid Results” require SSMS to restart, so you need to close it and open to get it working.

Changing Colors

It is also important to highlight the current line so we don’t have to point at it every time we refer to the code we’re showing. You can choose the color you like the most, but I’d choose something different than the “Selected Text” to avoid confusion.

Other Settings

The size and color of the text is pretty obvious and every attendee will thank you for that, now there are another couple of settings that will help you when delivering a presentation.

These settings are

  • Include the query in the result set, this is great because if you are running multiple queries and suddenly you have to stop to answer a question, it is very easy that you loose track of what is done or what is not if you only see in the “Results” tab

    Command(s) completed successfully.

  • Display results in a separate tab, enabling this checkbox will give more room for everything, editor, results in the grid, messages, query plans and so on, so everyone in the audience will have a better chance to enjoy fully your presentation.
    The only caveat I see here is when you are really used to Ctrl+R to show/hide the grid, because unfortunately that doesn’t switch from one tab to another 🙁

To enable them both

And these two changes will give us the new tab “Results” and print the executed query in the messages tab.

Bonus tool for presenters

Another tool that is absolutely indispensable is ZoomIt.exe which does exactly what it says on the tin.

You can download it here and it’s not complicated to use, just run it and there are a few settings you can check and change.

You can define here the key combinations that will trigger the different functionalities:

  • Zoom, this will zoom and freeze the screen
  • Live Zoom, to zoom the screen without freezing it, so we can still type and use the mouse and scroll up and down
  • Draw, this will freeze the screen, without zoom

And then on the last two tabs we can define the font in case we want to type something and then how to stop the different functions and the timer in the last one.

Using ZoomIt it’s very useful because even though we have set our SSMS for everyone to see everything, it might happen we need to get a closer look at something. Also once we are zooming in, we can draw, make rectangles and type in, so that is totally cool


We have seen that just by adding some settings to our SSMS we can dramatically improve the experience for attendees when delivering a presentation. In my experience I usually get really disappointed when there are lots of code reviewing but I can’t barely see it, although my sight is alright.

Hopefully this will come across to people doing presentations and next time I’ll see them using these settings.

Thanks for reading!


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