Shortcuts are not often found in manufacturing — in fact, the typically advisable response to any manufacturers offering you a shortcut is to take the quickest route away from them. That’s not an all-encompassing rule, however, especially when manufacturing software is involved. That’s what we’re here to write about today; specifically, shortcuts in SOLIDWORKS for 2016.
Like most pieces of software, there are frequently several ways to carry out some of the most common actions, and some are faster and easier than others. SOLIDWORKS is no exception. These shortcuts are valuable in that they let you maintain focus on the most critical parts of your task: completing your drawing, ensuring specs are accurate, and solving for manufacturability needs, rather than breaking from your workflow with extraneous mouse clicks and button presses.
Read on to learn some of the most useful shortcuts found in SOLIDWORKS 2016 — some new for this release, and some tried-and-true timesavers.
Bring navigation right to your mouse pointer with the “D” key. By far, the most important shortcut addition to SOLIDWORKS 2016 is the use of the “D” key to bring several navigation tools right to your mouse pointer. Specifically, these tools are:
- • The Confirmation Corner
- • The Breadcrumb tool
Let’s start with the Confirmation Corner. When you’re working with a sketch or model through a PropertyManager, it can be pretty inconvenient to move your mouse away from the model to confirm changes. In fact, it can be worse than inconvenient — it can cause you to inadvertently manipulate the model in an unintended way. The new Confirmation Corner shortcut takes care of those problems, allowing you to confirm or cancel changes by hitting the “D” key on your keyboard and making a selection exactly where the mouse is located on the model.
You can access the Breadcrumb tool in the same way — with a tap of the “D” key — but it is only available when viewing an entity, not editing it through a PropertyManager. Breadcrumbs provide an instant view — and access — to all components and mates of a particular entity, giving you a quick look at its context. The “D” key will toggle the Breadcrumb menu between its default location at the top left of the screen, and adjacent to the mouse pointer for even quicker access.
Much like how the “breadcrumb trail” is a key component of websites to indicate exactly where you are in a hierarchical structure, SOLIDWORKS is applying that same philosophy to keep you situated within a project, while also letting you quickly and easily move around it.
“CTRL + drag” to copy. Most people are familiar with the CTRL+C/CTRL+V keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste — it’s a common combination in software from word processers to graphic design tools, and it carries over to SOLIDWORKS 2016. Once you’re really in a groove in SOLIDWORKS, though, even taking the time to carry out those keyboard combos can impede focus and progress. The “CTRL + drag” functionality with the mouse allows you to create a copy of an object by selecting the object, holding down the CTRL key, and dragging it to where you need the copy. By doing this, you can seamlessly continue to manipulate objects and assemblies without fully moving from the mouse to the keyboard and back.
The “Shift” key and sketching. “Snapping” in SOLIDWORKS can be a very useful feature once you’re familiar with how the underlying “grid” that determines snapping works. When sketching lines, holding down the “Shift” key and clicking the mouse will enable snapping, and holding “Shift” while dragging the mouse will create lines that snap to particular lengths. Again, if you are more in need of total freehand sketching, this shortcut may prove less useful — but once you are familiar with it, it can be a big time saver.
Shortcuts to view your model. After working on a specific area of a model for a while, it can be helpful to take a step back and see how it’s fitting into the big picture. Conversely, you may see one tiny area of a model that needs tweaking, and need to get up close to fine-tune it. SOLIDWORKS is equipped with powerful view and zoom tools to enable you to see exactly what needs to be seen; and even better, it has built-in shortcuts to help you get to the required view more quickly. Namely:
- • Rotate the model freely: CTRL + arrow keys
- • Rotate the model in 90-degree increments: Shift + arrow keys
- • Zoom in: Shift + the “Z” key
- • Zoom out: The “Z” key (without Shift)
- • Fit the model view to your screen: The “F” key
- • View hidden components: ALT + click the left mouse button over the component
As you can see, SOLIDWORKS is committed to constantly improving its software for power users and more intermediate users alike; and is, above all, concerned with maximizing the efficiency of its tool. It’s a worthy goal and effort that sets a great example for all areas of manufacturing where speed, quality and efficiency are important.