What do you all use for interface settings? In particular, I'm interested
in what people use when customizing menus, or using the Command Manager.
I'm looking for suggestions, opinions, observations, comments, etc. for a
user group presentation.
- large icons
- Command Manager
- flyout toolbars
- customizable menus
- sketch workflow (select plane, feature icon, sketch icon or sketch tool
I've been leaving them on for a while long version - figure I might learn
something. Also the Tip of the Day - same thing - might accidentally learn
If you really mean Large Icons, Nope, too much room. If you mean the
Command Manager is the large, default size, then yes, until I learn more
about what's what.
Still the standard one here. I added a couple buttons back into it, though.
On the Drawing one I added Align back in. On the Sketch one I added the
Grid button. I don't ever use the grid, but it's a handy hotkey straight
into Document Properties.
Most certainly! I am a big advocate of using hotkeys. Most people run the
mouse with their right hand, and the left one just sits around doing
important things like holding the coffee cup. For max efficiency, put it to
wortk! I can list many examples of where hotkeys are faster than any other
way, if you wish. I also have the hotkey file I have kept updated that
lists all of them - let me know if you want it. Interestingly, there is one
in particular in 2004 that doesn't work - <CTRL>F. It already has an SPR,
so you don't need to send it in, but it thinks it's already assigned, even
though it isn't.
I usually select the plane or surface first, mostly because you used to get
a 3-D sketch if you didn't. My normal flow is to make the sketch and then
select the feature before exiting the sketch. That seems to be the fastest
to me. The exception would now be using the Contour Select mode, in which
you select part of an existing sketch.
You're welcome. Let me know if you need more. I would also be interested
in seeing what you come up with as I don't have our next meeting's agenda
nailed down yet.
I experimented with setting screen resolution high (1600x1200 on a laptop),
and setting large icons so I could hit the buttons easier. My vision is
good so I can read small type, but I'm kind of clumsy, so I can't hit the
I stopped setting things up that way because every time I use a projector
(weekly) I would have to reset the settings. Otherwise I think I liked
that way of working.
Thanks to everyone that gave input. It's always interesting to see how
other people do stuff. I'll probably make this presentation available on
my website when it's done, in about a week.
Large icons take too much space. If I can't figure out that the cryptic
little image means "ruled surface" then the tooltip comes along and saves
I have enough screen area that I don't like this. All the toolbars I use
are visible in every doc type. I don't want to have to turn them on to
pick from them, and I like the arrangement to always be the same.
Personally, I find it annmoying for the toolbars to change when I switch
to another doc type. If I was on the road, using a laptop, I think I'd
probably use the command manager though.
I really like these for commands that I don't use all the time, but use
often enough that I don't want to dig them out of the menus. I like the
command descriptions on the flyouts. I can search a list of text faster
that I can unfamiliar icons.
I moslty leave everything turned on, except for one or two items I
removed because I was clicking on them accidentally with grave
Hotkeys are faster than any mouse movement, except maybe mouse gestures,
which don't mix well with SW. I miss the command aliases in ACAD, because
even a 3-key sequence is often faster than any mouse interface. One of my
pet peeves is when I can't use the shortcut keys (underlined letters)
because the PM doesn't have mouse focus, on more than one menus item has
the same letter assigned (what's up with that?)
I do the sketch first, because it has not always been possible to do it
the other way. I preselect a face or plane about 50% of the time. I
sometimes remember that I can select the feature first. For simple
features, this can save a few clicks. It depends on what I'm trying to
do, whether I want to or not.
Absolutely. Anyone who uses the standard method (instead of a macro
hotkey) to switch the units from decimal to fractional should be shot.
Ditto for the number of decimal places, reference dim toggle, etc.
Plane, and then feature before exiting sketch.
Remove my extraneous mandibular appendages to reply via email.
I usually take the buried icons I need and move them up into the parent for
one click access. We have enough screen for this.
Yes. 2004 got this right; being able to turn things on and off so you see
what you want to see, nothing more, nothing less.
Yes. Usually M=measure, the rest I can live without because it just isn't
the same as Acad's shortcuts. It would nice if we could use 2/3 char.
Mnemonic aliases like Acad. (same as what Dale said he misses). This was
something that Acad got right a long time ago.
Plane - sketch icon - tool - feature (FWIW, I never use the big checkmark,
in fact I turn it off)
What a GREAT subject for a roundtable discussion at the user group!
Everyone who shows up has their own setup and damn good reasons for it!
Sharing these would clue everyone in attendance to new ways of thinking,
even if they ultimately decide it isn't for them.
What the hell... it doesn't take any more space, and it comes in handy
Never, though I understand their appeal when using a projector
I really, really tried with this thing. My philosophy has been, for a very
long time, to try to force myslef to use the SWx defaults because I might
touch 2-5 systems in the course of a day. Even if I am not working on a
system, I might be asked to help out with another guys problem. The human
reality is that most of those sytems will be set to the defualt or a minor
variation fof the default.
There is nothing more unproductive than hunting 10 seconds for each and
every icon. That said, I just could just not make the command manager work
for me, even after 2 weeks of concerted effort. Instead of being able to
learn where the icons were in each of the sub-menus, I found myself scanning
for each and every command. I just could not do this day in and day out, so
for the first time I adopted an all-custom-toolbar approach.
Neat idea for seldom used commands. But I've been around too long (since
98) - for seldom used commands (like sketch text) I have been trained for
years to just go to the menus. I have tried, but I can't myself to go to
the flyout menu over the standard menu, so I ditched this
I use these for the big, constant functions - again because I might work on
several systems (or different profiles on the same system) in the course of
a day. If I go to work on another computer I would be dead in the water if
it is not set up the way I am used to.
Absolute reliance on hotkeys actually hinders my prodcutivity because I
roam. I use hotkeys for plane, measure, and sketch (and only because I have
an extra button on my mouse set for sketch). Everything else, I just trained
myself to use the toolbars because all systems have toolbars
It depends. I am always shaking up my routine depending on what the task
is. I want to be fluent in three ways to do everything in SWx, and will try
anything depending on where my mouse is and whether I have a diet coke in my
For instance, in SWx2004 they got rid of having the select arrow on any of
the toolbars because everyone knows that you can just hit ESC to get back to
the select tool. But sometimes I am lazy and my left hand is buys (Bob Zee
can comment here) so I would rather just select the arrow from a toolbar.
So I put the arrow back on my toolbar even though there is a terrific
keyboard substitute hardwired intot he system. Bottom line - if there is
space on the scrren, I will allow myself to be lazy
Since I have gotten away from the defualts I have hit on a HUGE productivity
enhancement for me. Since the introduction of the property manager in 2001
most mouse acticity in SWx has been concentrated in the left side of the
screen. Because the comman manger all but mandates that everyone
cumstomize, I finally moved my sketch toolbar to the left of the screen. Oh
my god, I can not fathom working again with it in its defualt position on
the right side of the screen.
I will try to remember to email you a screen shot of my toolbars so you can
see the logic behind the placment.
For the user group, I think it would be very cool if everyone took a
screenshot of their work window so you could project them and allow the
users to explain the rationale. I think this would be an awesome way for
everyone to learn new ways of thinking about workflow - I might even steal
the idea for the next Chicago SolidWorks user group.
Aside- Fun user group question: ask everyone what they used the grid icon
for. Every single person I have asked used it as a shortcut to reach
document and system properties.
The question becomes interesting because that important shortcut was removed
from the default toolbars in SWx2004.
The folks at SWx were listening - the knew that hardly anyone used a grid
when modleing in SWx and that folks complained about extra stuff eating up
toolbar space, so why have a shortcut to the grid? They just didn't realize
that all of us (or at least the 20+ people I have polled) used the shortcut
as a way to get to all the OTHER settings. This is a wonderful example
showing that the folks at SWx listen and care, but that they (regardless)
sometimes don't get it.
At first, all I wanted to do was to shut it off, and I've worked that
way until now. Now I'm trying to work out a way for it to make sense so
my interface doesn't change between parts and assemblies too much. I'm
always getting stuck when I try to build a sheetmetal part in the
context of an assembly and I don't have the sheetmetal toolbar. I only
make the "control area" different for drawings, which I only do when I
can't avoid it anyway.
I've been around since 97, and have the same "this is the way I've
always done it" syndrome. Same thing with trim/extend, alternate spline
creation and contours. I'm trying to learn with flyouts, though,
because I really dislike fumbling with menus. There are some things
like mate references which have changed menus, and I always look first
in the one it used to be in.
I know what you mean about using other boxes. I do that some too. My
answer to the problem has been to make my macros and cus file available
on the net so I can get it from just about anywhere if I have to be
without my own machine for too long. I'm addicted. I have hotkeys for
just about anything I use daily that makes me go to the menu.
Have you found that there are a handful of commands where the ESC key
does not work? I can't remember what they are offhand, but I know I
swear out loud when ever I get the "this command cannot be interrupted"
Anyway, the "Select" thing is also available on the RMB, so you could
still keep your left hand occupied and not have the button on the
toolbar. I always use ESC or just click the next or previous command.
... Oh my god, I can not fathom
That's funny. I keep the sketch toolbar always on the right side so I
don't have to mouse over the feature manager. Different strokes!
I don't think you'd be stealing anything, it looks like the sharing
screen shots idea is all yours. It sounds like a great idea, and is
kind of what I was hoping might happen here, although I might have
started it off by posting my own example. Anyway, thanks for the idea!
That toolbar button is one of the first to go on a new installation for
me. I always use the hotkey "o" to get to Tools, Options. Grid always
took me to the wrong place. Plus, that grid stuff is sooooo autocad.
Although I admit for the first couple of years when I taught SW, I had
all the students turn on the grid for the class. Believe it or not, one
of the hurdles new users struggle to get past is knowing when they are
in or out of a sketch. I used the grid as a reminder.
Thanks again for the tips!
I hit ESC quite a bit and I wonder if some consider it a bad
I figured the reason SW took the arrow away was so that
we would press the command button we were using instead.
For instance, if you press the 'Circle' button, it will stay
depressed (unless single command per pick is on) until
you press it again, then you get the arrow. It's still a single
mouse click either way.
I guess it's a way of uncluttering the toolbars?
Speaking of "single command per pick". I haven't heard
anyone using it. Some people I know swear by it. I've
never given it a try, but I may if someone has good experiences
BTW, I like to have as many icons shown on my screen as I
can, for the simple reason that they inspire me. Since I'm always
working on many different projects, and I'm always using
SolidWorks to the fullest extent of it's capabilities, I'm constantly
scanning the variety of tools at my disposal to see what would
work best at any given moment.
If a command button is hidden, like the Parallelogram for example,
I might forget it's there and draw four separate lines etc.
Also, I like to have every DOC type (Assy, DWG, PRT) have
the same command button settings for whatever reason.
A pet peeve of mine is when SolidWorks adds some GUI
enhancements to help newbies be less intimidated or to just
"make it look like this other software". What's especially
irritating is when others expect me to be a sheep and start
using these new enhancement just because "they're new so
it must be a better way" and that I will magically become more
productive, when in fact it most likely will do the opposite.
Sometimes GUI enhancements are there to entice/aid new
customers or to make the product look "spiffier".
"Duh, look the "Start button" is twice as big in XP than in
Win2000, that must mean it's a better and more efficient way
No, I don't think so.
This is the first thing I change after installing. I can't stand the
repeated commands. If I want a command again, I will ask for it. I tried
it the other way and just can't get used to it. Yet the others in my office
have it the default way. Maybe it's because I spent so many years in the
past in Acad. In Acad you'd just hit the spacebar and the last command
would start up.
Yep! Me too! After going thru settings, this is the next thing I change
after installing. I don't care if an icon is grayed out but it bugs the
livin hell out of me to have toolbars coming and going. Especially if you
occasionally tile the windows and try to switch focus between parts and
drawings or assys. The default is a huge visual distraction and it's ugly
and nasty and evil. Leave the toolbars on or off but don't play like you
know what I want to see next. So I go into each of the three file types and
set all the toolbars the same. When I toggle between the different
filetypes the screen isn't bouncing all over the damn place. It works 90%
of the time but sometimes SW still turns off a toolbar or turns back on a
toolbar on its own (like the useless edrawings toolbar for example, which
can be accessed thru file for as often as it's needed).
Re: repeated commands. I also wanted to add that for me hitting the Esc key
constantly was an interruption in thought process. If I'm going to need a
command multiple times, chances are, I will know it ahead of time and it's
easy enough to just double click the toolbar button. If they didn't have
the double-click to repeat thingy then I would be forced to use the default
methodology and I wouldn't be happy about it.
I use ESC so much I finally had to give up on my old
Function-Keys-on-the-Left keyboard. I jut plain wore out that and other
keys beyond repair. They would double hit, triple hit, or not hit at all.
The plastic was also worn enough that the key would not stay straight and
move up & down any more. For me, hitting the escape key takes place in that
"dead" thinking space about what's next.
I also don't have the big green arrow on - why go way up there when the left
hand is already poised for action over the proper keys?
This is one of the initial things I changed when updating here. I too use
it as a hotkey into Document Properties, or to turn off the grid that
someone else left on. I also look at the removal of it as at least they are
trying, and it's easy enough to put it back in.
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