Solving Issues Using Visual Studio for Mac as my code editor for Unity

Troy Lyndon
3 min readNov 24, 2020

When I started learning the GameDevHQ ciriculum as part of a wonderful Hawaii State and Honolulu sponsored program, I installed Unity and got going. I quickly realized that the training videos were showing Microsoft Visual Studio as Unity’s default editor, but on my Mac, the default editor was Sublime 3.

I installed Visual Studio and had two problems, which were outlined in a previous blog. The first problem caused Visual Studio to reload another instance of itself every time it loaded a script, instead of loading new scripts into a single instance. I worked to solve this for hours without an adequate solution, which is why I also wrote a previous blog about ATOM, a good editor that does include a nice auto-complete feature. With that said, I’m now recommending that we use Visual Studio, rather than ATOM.

MS Visual Studio has something special, better than auto-complete, called “Intellisense”. Because of the problems I had installing various versions and trying several work-arounds, using ATOM as my Unity editor, I’m nearly completed the first Phase 1 lab of the 2D Game Development course.

Jeff, my team lead, suggested that I try again to get MS Visual Studio working because he felt that working without this Intellisense feature, because of some great features offered exclusively in Visual Studio.

So today, I after an hour and 45 minute long screen share session with Dan and Austin, the GameDevHQ team chose to expend the necessary energy to help me resolve these problems. I’m glad they did, too. In the process, I learned the following important things that I’m hopeful will be of benefit to you or someone else.

1. When installing Unity, make sure not to use the latest version. Instead, use the latest version that is LTS, which stands for Long-Term Support, because such a version indicates the current PUBLIC version that has been declared stable. At the time of this writing in November 2020, the latest LTS version is 2019.4.15f1.
2. When installing Visual Studio for Mac, you can use the very latest version, which at the time of this writing is version 8.8.1 (build 37).

In my case, because I had to go back to an older version, I was advised to export a package in Unity by going to menu item Assets->Export Package, select all, and save it someone on a physical drive, NOT a cloud-based file location, as that created trouble for me the first time; so remember to use a local, physical drive on your system. I chose to use an SSD 2TB.

There were numerous other subtleties pertaining to settings and preferences that created a problem for me as well. For some reason, I couldn’t go to menu item Edit->Project Settings. After trying several things, the solution was to set the current layout to one of the defaults, not the new layout that Jonathan suggested that we use. In some cases, when using a non-factory default for layout settings, it results in blocking access to Unity’s Project Settings. So to solve in the future, just remember to temporarily set the layout to any normal default and then try opening Project Settings again.

I hope the information here is useful to you. It’s certainly a relief to have this problem solved, and I’m looking forward to what’s next. I’m still enjoying the work, despite my ongoing experience of one technical hurdle after another. Good night.

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Troy Lyndon

I've been making games for more than 30 years, and in recent years, I've gotten behind in-terms of learning the latest and best available tools. But no more!