4 1/2 Methods to Minimize Mouse Movement in SOLIDWORKS
The SOLIDWORKS user interface has always been very intuitive and easy to navigate. However, users who are in the software every day, all day, know that constantly navigating to menus, the command manager, and FeatureManager can really add up. In this blog we will look at 4.5 ways to help minimize mouse movement and keep you focused on your design.
Keyboard shortcuts are the most obvious way to minimize mouse movement. We use these all the time, in other programs as well, maybe not even realizing we are doing so (Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V for copy and paste, anyone?). There are many default ones, but can easily be customized to suit your needs. To do this, simply right click on the Command Manager, choose Customize, and go to the Keyboard tab.
From here, you can view the list, add to, or modify it. Once you have your keyboard shortcuts defined, you can even print out the list to hang on the wall, if you don’t have them memorized!
Shortcut bars are a great way to bring your most common features directly to your mouse. They are actually activated utilizing an abovementioned keyboard shortcut! The default keyboard shortcut is the ‘S’ key, but as with any of the others, it can be changed, if you so choose.
As you can see, there are four different shortcut bars. Which one shows up on your screen when you hit the keyboard shortcut depends on what mode you are in: Part, Assembly, Drawing, or Sketch.
Each one of those can be customized to add the commands you use most often in that mode. From the shortcut bars tab, find the command you want to add by selecting the correct tool bar or doing a search. Then, just drag it onto the appropriate shortcut tool bar. Conversely, to remove one already there, drag it off.
The title of the blog includes a ½ method. Well, that is because if you are using at least SOLIDWORKS 2022, you can do this search and customization directly from the shortcut bar utilizing the Search Command. It was added to the Shortcut Bar in 2022. This makes accessing/finding those commands you do not use often much easier, with less mouse movement. And if you are going to use it more often, quickly adding it to the shortcut bar.
Mouse Gestures are another way to bring commonly used commands right to…..your mouse. As with shortcut bars, they differ depending on what mode you are in. They also are modified from the same Customize menu, under a different tab. Not only can you customize ‘what’ commands are on the mouse gestures wheel, but you can also choose ‘how many’. You can pick from 2, 3, 4, 8, and even 12! Simply search for and drag the command where you wan it, on the menu that pops up on the right.
They are activated by RMB clicking and holding and dragging in the direction of the gesture you want. Once your cursor hits the command, it activates. You can then release the RMB.
Another great benefit of mouse gestures is you do not have to wait for the ‘wheel’ to pop up on your screen. If you have the location of the commands memorized, you can quickly perform the actions to activate!
The final method to minimize mouse movement is Breadcrumbs. These essentially show a hierarchy of the selection you make on the model.
For example, when you select a face of a component, that shows up on the right of the list, then the feature, body, component, and all the way up to the top level assembly. Above and below, you can also access things like sketches, mates, and even primary planes and origin.
Accessing all this right at your mouse can minimize going way over to the FeatureManager Design Tree and searching for those things. You could even minimize the FeatureManager for more screen real estate if you so choose.
If you don’t like these showing up whenever you make a selection, you do have a few options. System Options, that is. You can turn them off completely or have them show up in the upper left corner of your graphics area. If you do the latter, the default keyboard shortcut to bring them to your mouse is the ‘D’ key.
These work at the part level also but are more beneficial in assemblies.
As you can see, there are many ways within SOLIDWORKS to help keep you focused on your design, not wasting time searching through menus. Customizing these to suit your workflows and features you use can go a long way in more efficiently getting your job done. No one method, or tool, works for everyone, give them a try and see what works best for you!
Sr. Application Engineer
Computer Aided Technology