Custom SOLIDWORKS Display Options

Engineers can have a weird sense of humor…

I was recently working with one of my colleagues in SOLIDWORKS when he opened up a new drawing template. What I saw was both hilarious and intriguing to me. His drawing didn’t look like a regular old drawing… it had a different background that looked something like this:

custom drawing background featuring a coffee stain in the upper right hand corner and a crumpled paper effect

This made me realize that us engineer’s have an appreciation for the small things, the details, the inside jokes, that lay people might not “get”. Plus, having a more custom SOLIDWORKS interface just gives a homey feeling that really does make working within it more enjoyable.

All that in mind, I wanted to share with you a few strategies to customize your SOLIDWORKS UI.

Customizing SOLIDWORKS’ Colors


Personally, I keep my cell phone on dark mode. I think it’s easier on my eyes and more enjoyable overall. SOLIDWORKS actually has this option, and more! Here’s how you can change the colors of your interface:

  1. Open System Options>Colors:
picture showing where to click to get to the system options, colors tab

2. Select the Background drop down menu as highlighted above. The different options include Light (Default), Medium Light, Medium, and Dark. See a preview of each below.

gif showing the difference between the light, medium light, medium and dark background options within Solidworks

Graphics Area

Getting to choose between those four options for the CommandManager background is a great start to your custom display, but SOLIDWORKS gives even more freedom when choosing the background of your graphics area. You can choose the graphics background by 4 different options in the System Options – Colors tab.

  1. Use document scene background
    • This is recommended because if you use any of the other options, you will be prompted to change back to this option when using the drag and drop scenes from the Appearance, Scenes and Decals tab from the task pane (see gif below). If that is not something you do often though, you can use the other options to set your custom background for all parts.
  2. Plain
    • Specify a single color for the background
  3. Gradient
    • Specify two colors for a gradient effect in the background
  4. Image file
    • Specify an Image to display in the background 
picture showing where to find the part background options, System options, colors tab
To view the document scene you must use the background appearance option: Use document scene background. Otherwise you will get a pop up error.

I personally keep a dark Gradient graphics background to match my dark CommandManager, but if you wanted to avoid the prompt when using task pane scenes, you could change your templates’ default background to a scene of your choosing and keep the Use document scene background option checked.

Another blog that goes into more detail about changing your templates’ default scene.

If you would like to delve deeper into the System Options>Colors functions, check out the SOLIDWORKS Help File.

Changing Drawing Backgrounds

Drawings in SOLIDWORKS usually have a plain white/grey background to them, but that’s just not very interesting… So while we’re making our custom SOLIDWORKS’ display, lets customize our drawing background too! I chose to change mine over to a coffee ring stained crumpled paper like I showed at the beginning, but you could add whatever image to the background you would like. It won’t be printed with your drawings either so don’t worry about that. Here’s how you can change your drawing backgrounds:

  1. Find your image of choice
  2. Save the image as a bitmap file (.bmp)
  3. Navigate to C:Program FilesSOLIDWORKS CorpSOLIDWORKSdataImagesdrawings in your File Explorer. There should be an image named “sheetbackground1.bmp
  4. Copy your .bmp image into this folder
  5. Rename the original background image
  6. Rename your new background image “sheetbackground1.bmp
  7. Open or reload SOLIDWORKS and open a new drawing. Your new background should be displayed!

I hope these customization tips help you feel a bit more at home in SOLIDWORKS and maybe even make you the envy of the Engineering office!

Kit MacDonald
Application Engineer
Computer Aided Technology, Inc.


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