It’s all about the Shortcuts

Magnus Whittall Tips and Tricks

You’re working, plotting points, bringing up the sketch menu, drawing up a detailed profile, switching to different sketch tools, drawing again, then back up to the menu, then drawing, menu… Back and forth we go, leaving the view regularly just to access tools in the menu. You many not notice it but after a while all this back and forth really does add up.

All this disrupts your workflow as you dig around, clicking all over the SolidWorks interface to find the tools you regularly use, wasting precious time when you could be working more efficiently. Think of your toolbox – you don’t return a screwdriver back to its exact spot after each use. No! In fact most people take out the tools they need and place them within short reach so they can quickly access them. Well you can do the same with SolidWorks.

Introducing the SolidWorks Shortcut Bar (The “S” Key)! With it you can bring up a default selection of common tools, right next to your cursor without having to navigate to the menu. Just go to your view, hit the ‘S’ keyboard shortcut, select the next tool you need and keep going. The intention of the Shortcut Bar is to allow users access to commonly used commands in different “environments” with very little mouse movement. There are four versions of the Shortcut Bar, one each for parts, assemblies, drawings, and sketches (the default Shortcut Bar for each environment are shown below)

Content specific shortcut bar

And just like taking the tools you need out of your very own toolbox, you can customise the SolidWorks Shortcut Bar to only bring up the common tools you need to access. Just press the ‘S’ key, then right click on it and select ‘Customize’ to bring up the customize dialog.

Shortcut Bar Customize

The Shortcut Bar is a good interface for users who want access to many commands with little mouse movement, yet don’t want to have to memorize many individual keyboard shortcuts. It speeds up your design time – Why not drag and drop the base flange feature into the sketch selections. Its speed makes it enjoyable to use so when drawing your next sketch, you can instantly select the base flange feature without the hassle of mousing over to the top menu.

Many power users have adopted the Shortcut Bar as their primary interface to accessing commands, hiding the CommandManager and regular toolbars so they have a very large area for their model display.


Mal Cook PortraitThis SFWorks Quick Tip was produced by Magnus Whittall a SolidWorks expert, Trainer and Technical Director for WA’s only locally owned and operated reseller.

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