Cleaning Visual Studio build output using the git clean command

October 22, 2018


Do you know the Clean Solution command in Visual Studio?

Clean Solution context menu

It turns out it is a pretty useless command.

I am not sure what it does exactly, but on my computer, it does not seem to ever actually delete any build artifacts. The problem is that from time-to-time things go a bit strange, and Visual Studio picks up some old artifacts - especially when working with Git and switching between a lot of branches.

In situations like these, you want to be able to clean all build artifacts to start fresh, and since the Clean Solution command is useless, a colleague of mine advised me to just use the git clean command.

Specifically, you can run it with the following parameters:

git clean -xdf

The x option deletes all untracked files, the d option deletes all untracked directories, and the f option will force the deletion of these files.

Be careful though, as this will nuke all files which are not tracked by Git, such as your user-specific settings files (*.suo, *.DotSettings.user, .vs folder etc.). If you’re using the old .csproj format that makes use of packages.config it will also delete your /packages directories meaning you will need to restore all NuGet packages as well.

For me, I don’t care too much about all these. By the time things get so bad that I feel I want to nuke all build output, I am more than happy to get rid of all those files as well to ensure that I make a fresh start.

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