Harnessing the Oracular Power of Search Shortcuts
Welcome, friend, to the fabulous world of SOLIDWORKS Customization. Thank you for joining me for this whirlwind adventure on this April Day of Fools. Today, we will get our hands dirty discussing the wonders of Search Shortcuts. Who knows, we may even find ourselves using and setting up our own Search Shortcuts! So, fire up SOLIDWORKS, strap on your safety glasses and let’s go!
A keen individual such as yourself may already be aware of standard Shortcuts in SOLIDWORKS. A Shortcut (aka “Hotkey”, to you dinosaurs out there) is a single keystroke or modified single keystroke that is used to launch a specified command. For example, pressing “R” will open your recent documents, or pressing “Ctrl+S” will save (Pressing Alt+F4 will put SOLIDWORKS into super mega turbo mode, but make sure you press Ctrl+S first!).
Shortcuts are defined and modified from the Keyboard Tab of the Customize window (Tools, Customize), and can be set for almost any SOLIDWORKS Command.
Notice that just to the right of the “Shortcut(s)” setting column is another column called “Search Shortcut”. This is where Search Shortcuts can be defined. Search Shortcuts are used to give priority to a command within the Command Search. Just like standard Shortcuts, Search Shortcuts can be set for nearly all commands, but they do not have to be a single keystroke. They can be any string of characters or symbols that you would otherwise be able to type into the Command Search, such as “dragonfly”. Search Shortcuts are useful for commands that you don’t use often enough to assign a standard Shortcut, but you still use frequently and don’t want to have to hunt through the menus or Command Manager to find. They can also help speed up productivity.
We can use the ‘Show’ dropdown in the Keyboard Tab of the Customize window to show only the commands that already have Search Shortcuts assigned.
As you can see, SOLIDWORKS with a number of Search Shortcuts predefined out of the box. For example, if we type “r” in the Command Search, the first result in the list is Rebuild.
Search Shortcuts may not apply depending on what mode (Part, Assembly, Drawing, or Sketch) you are in. For example, if we start a Sketch and type “pat” into the Command Search, the first command in the list of results is Path Length Dimension, even though “pat” is the Search Shortcut for Linear Pattern.
This is because we cannot use Linear Pattern in a Sketch. Notice that Linear Pattern is the first greyed-out result in the search results section of unavailable commands.
Any time we use a Command Search, the first item in the results list is already pre-selected. All we have to do is press Enter and that command is launched. This can be a very handy tool when coupled with use of the Shortcut Bar. Launching the Shortcut Bar (“S” hotkey, by default) also activates the Command Search (Woah there, cowboy! Make sure the option ‘Activate Command Search when the shortcut bar is launched’ on the Shortcut Bars Tab of the Customize window is checked for this technique to work).
This means that we can very quickly launch commands using Search Shortcuts by pressing S > [Search Shortcut] > Enter. For example, we will start a Sketch by selecting the Front plane, pressing S, typing “sk”, and pressing Enter.
Holy efficiency, Batman! That was fast! We will use this technique with a few more of our preset Search Shortcuts to quickly access other frequently used commands.
Line (Search Shortcut: l)
Centerline (Search Shortcut: cl)
Let’s try our hand at setting up our very own Search Shortcut. We will open the Customize window, open the Keyboard Tab, and search for Circle.
If we had tried to set a standard Shortcut for Circle using, say, the C key, we would get this warning
Womp womp. Because we use Expand/Collapse Tree ALL DAY EVERY DAY, we will assign a search shortcut to the Circle command. Let’s use “pi”.
We can now use our shortcut technique to add circles to our sketch.
Circle (Search Shortcut: pi)
A few more ninja commands…
Offset Entities (Search Shortcut: o)
Trim (Search Shortcut: tr)
…and our Keywork is ready to be extruded.
So, there you have it! A (not so) quick introduction to the fathomless depths of Search Shortcuts. Are Search Shortcuts harder/better/faster/stronger than standard Shortcuts or Mouse Gestures? Not really. But they do offer yet another way of increasing your productivity in SOLIDWORKS.
Computer Aided Technology