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4 Keys to Save Time – SOLIDWORKS Shortcuts

SOLIDWORKS Tech Tip

Written by: Maurice Cherian, Application Engineer

Part of the fun in teaching SOLIDWORKS is showing some of the time-saving shortcuts available to make students more efficient. This helps make the software easier to use and gives users more time to focus on what’s really important: their designs. It is hard to remember all the shortcuts and there really isn’t a complete, master list out there. This tech tip is a good start on documenting some of the available shortcuts, focusing on four keys on your keyboard. They are ShiftCtrl, Alt, and Tab keys.

I will cover as many of these commands as I can in this article for the four modes of SOLIDWORKS; Sketch, Part, Assembly and Drawings. The intention of this article is to try to go over the not so obvious commands that you might not know, especially helpful for new users. I hope you enjoy this list and that it helps you become more productive while you are designing in SOLIDWORKS.

Sketches

  • Dimension to the tangent of an arc or circle (min/max condition) – Hold down Shift while using Smart Dimension
  • Move a series of entities – Hold down Shift and drag the selected entities to another location
  • Zoom larger or smaller– Hold down Shift and the middle mouse button while moving the mouse up and down. This will zoom about the screen center and is smoother and more responsive than spinning the scroll wheel
  • Copy a series of entities – Hold down Ctrl and drag the selected entities to another location
  • Turn off automatic relations and/or grid snap – Hold down Ctrl while drawing entities
  • Move multiple spline points at once – Ctrl select points and then drag any of the points
  • Change spline controls symmetrically – Hold down Alt while dragging a spline control arrow
  • Change XYZ direction in a 3D sketch – Click Tab while drawing entities in a 3D sketch

Part Documents

  • Move Features – Hold down Shift and drag a feature to another location (Disable Instant3D)
  • Select transparent items – Hold down Shift when attempting to choose a transparent face on a part, or vise-versa when System Options, Display/Selection “Select through transparent items” is turned off
  • Copy Features – Hold down Ctrl and drag a feature to another location (Disable Instant3D)
  • Switch to another open document – Hold down Ctrl, then click Tab between each one
  • Create a new offset, parallel plane – Hold down Ctrl and drag an existing plane
  • Change advanced settings of an appearance or scene – Hold down Alt when dragging an appearance or scene from the appearance tab in the task pane
  • Rotate in 90 degree increments – Hold down Shift plus your arrow keys
  • Rotate clockwise/counterclockwise in 15 degree increments – Hold down Alt plus your arrow keys
  • Pan the Model – Hold down Ctrl and drag your middle mouse button or use your arrow keys
  • Reference Triad – Hold down Shift and click selected axis to rotate view 90 degrees,
  • Reference Triad – Hold Alt and click selected axis to rotate view 15 degrees
  • Magnifying Glass – Use Ctrl and middle mouse to pan the magnifying glass
  • Magnifying Glass – Use Alt and middle mouse to section in the magnifying glass
  • Hide Solid or Surface Bodies – Select Tab with mouse hovered over the body
  • Show Solid or Surface Bodies – Select Shift + Tab with mouse hovered over the body
  • Flip the direction of a formed feature (Sheet metal) – Click Tab while dragging the feature to a face

Assembly Documents

  • Select multiple components – Hold down the Shift key when window selecting components with other components already selected
  • Smart Mate – Hold down Alt, click and drag an edge or face to another component to mate
  • Smart Mate + Copy Component at same time – Hold down Ctrl + Alt, click and drag an edge or face to another component
  • Copy a Component – Hold down Ctrl and drag a component to another location
  • Hide a Component – Select Tab with mouse hovered over the component
  • Show a Component – Select Shift + Tab with mouse hovered over the component
  • 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 System Options, Display/Selection “Select through transparent items” is turned off
  • Change direction of the move function when using Move with Triad – Hold down Alt and move the triad to an edge to change the direction
  • Change from reorganize to re-order while moving parts in the Feature Manager Design Tree – 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 to other tiled window
  • Change direction of Routing components – Hold down Shift plus your left or right 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 Ctrl when dragging a part into your assembly
  • Camera Views – Use CtrlShift, and Alt keys plus your middle mouse button to manipulate camera views
  • Walkthrough – Use CtrlShift, and Alt keys to change the orientation of your camera while using the walkthrough function
  • Motion Manager – Use Ctrl and Alt keys to copy and move multiple keys in the motion manager

Drawing Documents

  • Move child views with the parent – Hold down Shift while moving the parent view
  • Move model items between views (Dimensions) – Hold down Shift and drag an item from one view to another
  • Break the alignment of Geometric Tolerance Block (Feature Control Frame) from a Dimension – Hold down Shift and drag the frame away from the attached dimension
  • Select cells in BOM – Use the Shift or Ctrl keys and pick the cells you want to edit
  • Break alignment of views – Hold down Ctrl during the creation of a projected view
  • Copy a sheet to another drawing document – Hold down Ctrl and drag the sheet while windows are tiled
  • 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
  • Move annotations without snapping to the grid or other annotations – Hold down Alt key while creating or moving
  • Move tables (BOM, revision) – Hold down Alt and you can drag the table by picking any place on the table
  • Move an annotation independently in a group – Hold down Alt and drag annotation
  • Move views – Hold down Alt and you can drag the view by picking any place within the border

One final general note, as you can see in the list above, is that Ctrl selecting and dragging an item usually makes a copy in SOLIDWORKS. This is true in sketch, part, assembly or drawing mode.