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4 Keys to Saving Time with SolidWorks Shortcuts

Remember some of these and you won’t be disappointed…

One of my goals while teaching SolidWorks is to make our customers as efficient as possible.  A common response I get in class is, “I’m never going to remember all those keyboard shortcuts”.  I suppose my response to that is, “You don’t have to!”  However, if you don’t take the time to remember some of the commonly used keys for SolidWorks then you may be missing out on some much needed time savings.

3DConnexion controllerFor this article, I’m focusing on four keys on your keyboard.  They are Shift, Ctrl, Alt, and Tab keys.  These commands are so popular that 3DConnexion decided to add them to their Space Explorer and Space Pilot Pro so your hand doesn’t have to leave the device.

I’m going to cover as many of these commands as I can in this article.  Let me also say that this is not going to cover every command that is connected to the CTRL key.  My intention is to cover commands that you might not know, especially if you are new to SolidWorks.  I hope you enjoy this list.

Sketches

  • Dimension (min/max) condition of an arc – Hold down SHIFT
  • Snap to grid – Hold down SHIFT while drawing entities
  • Turn off automatic relations – Hold down CTRL while drawing entities
  • Change spline controls symmetrically – Hold down the ALT key while dragging spline controls
  • Change XYZ direction in a 3D sketch – Click the TAB key while drawing entities in a 3D sketch
  • Zoom to the center of the screen – Hold down the SHIFT key and the middle mouse button while moving the mouse up and down
  • Copy a series of entities – Hold down CTRL and drag the selected entities to another location
  • Move a series of entities – Hold down SHIFT and drag the selected entities to another location

Part Documents

  • Copy Features – Hold down CTRL and drag a feature to another location
  • Move Features – Hold down SHIFT and drag a feature to another location
  • Switch to another open document – Hold down CTRL, then click TAB between each one
  • Flip the direction of a formed feature (Sheet metal) – Click the TAB key while dragging the feature to a face
  • Select transparent items – Hold down SHIFT when attempting to choose a transparent face on a part, or vise-versa when “Select through transparent items” is turned off
  • Change advanced settings of an appearance or scene – Hold down the ALT key when dragging an appearance or scene from the appearance tab in the task pane
  • Create a plane – Hold down CTRL and drag an existing plane
  • Rotate in 90 degree increments – Hold down SHIFT plus your arrow keys
  • Rotate clockwise/counterclockwise – Hold down ALT plus your arrow keys
  • Pan – Hold down CTRL plus your arrow keys
  • Reference Triad – Use the CTRL, SHIFT, and ALT keys while clicking on the reference triad to change the orientation of your component
  • Magnifying Glass – Use the  CTRL to pan the magnifying glass
  • Magnifying Glass – Use the ALT key to section in the magnifying glass

Assembly Documents

  • Smart Mate – Hold down ALT, click and drag an edge or face to another component to mate
  • Smart Mate + Copy – Hold down CTRL and ALT, click and drag an edge or face to another component
  • Copy a part – Hold down CTRL and drag a component to another location
  • Select multiple components – Hold down the SHIFT key when window selecting components
  • Invert selection – Hold down the CTRL key when window selecting components.  Components that are already selected will become deselected
  • Select a transparent face – Hold down SHIFT when attempting to pick a transparent face, or vise-versa when “Select through transparent items” is turned off
  • Change direction of an explode step – Hold down the ALT key while dragging the yellow sphere to a face or an edge
  • Change direction of the move function when using Move with Triad – Hold down the ALT key and move the triad to an edge to change the direction
  • Change from reorganize to re-order while moving parts in the feature manager – Hold down ALT while re-ordering parts in the feature manager so you don’t accidentally add a part to a subassembly
  • Copy a part from one assembly to another – Hold down CTRL while dragging the part
  • Change direction of Routing components – Hold down SHIFT plus your arrow keys to change the orientation of a routing component upon insertion
  • Mouse gestures – Right click drag over a component rotates it, so hold down ALT if you meant to use mouse gestures
  • Create parts instead of configurations when using Toolbox – Hold down the CTL key when dragging a part into your assembly
  • Camera Views – Use CTRL, SHIFT, and ALT keys plus your middle mouse button to manipulate camera views
  • Walkthrough – Use CTRL, SHIFT, and ALT keys to change the orientation of your camera while using the walkthrough function
  • Motion Manager – Use the CTRL and ALT keys to copy and move multiple keys in the motion manager

Drawing Documents

  • Move views – Hold down ALT.  You can drag the view by picking any place within the border
  • Move child views with the parent – Hold down SHIFT while moving the parent view
  • Break alignment of views – Hold down CTRL during the creation of a view to break the alignment
  • Move annotations without snapping to the grid or other annotations – Hold down your ALT key while creating or moving
  • Move tables (BOM, revision) – Hold down ALT.  You can drag the table by picking any place on the table
  • Select cells in BOM – Use the SHIFT or CTRL keys and pick the cells you want to edit
  • Move model items between views (Dimensions) – Hold down SHIFT and drag an item from one view to another
  • Copy model items between views – Hold down CTRL and drag an item from one view to another
  • Add additional leaders to a note – Hold down the CTRL key while dragging the arrow
  • Pick just one of the edges in a view when there are multiple that are collinear to each other – Hold down the SHIFT key and select the one you want
  • Move an annotation independently in a group – Hold down the ALT key
  • Copy a sheet to another drawing document – Hold down CTRL and drag the sheet while windows are tiled

Jim Byrne

Jim Byrne
DASI Solutions

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