Category Archives: Tech Tips

When modeling in SOLIDWORKS, all designers rack up quite a bit of mileage when using their cursors.  As an example, when accepting or editing a sketch we need to make a stop on the confirmation corner to exit a sketch. Starting in SOLIDWORKS 2016 and using default shortcut settings, you can use the ‘D’ key on your keyboard as a shortcut to hopefully minimize some of your cursor movement and bring some portions of the SOLIDWORKS interface to you.

1.  The first behavior will move the Confirmation Corner to the location of your mouse pointer.  When editing a sketch or editing a feature, you can now press the ‘D’ key and the two options normally available on the Confirmation Corner will show up next you your mouse pointer location.

2.  The second behavior will move Selection Breadcrumbs to the mouse pointer location.  Selection Breadcrumbs is also a new feature in 2016 and it is a context based menu that depending on the selected entity will display features, sketches and other elements.  This will allow you to quickly edit and modify your model through the top level of your assembly or your part model.  When selecting an entity, this will trigger the display of the Selection Breadcrumbs menu, selecting the ‘D’ shortcut key will move the Breadcrumbs menu directly to the position of the mouse cursor.

Minimizing mouse cursor movement will help delay, wrist fatigue with long stints of modeling and help streamline your design techniques using SOLIDWORKS overall.



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There are many times when you are given an STL file instead of a regular SOLIDWORKS model. Some valid reasons for this could be the user doesn’t want to share all the modeling history of their parts, the model was simply created on a different design software, or they have shared the STL file for Additive Manufacturing purposes. When you receive these files by default you will only be able to open the file as a graphic representation. You are not able to click on any of the geometry in your graphics area, and the only information you see in the design tree is “STL Graphics1”.

In this tech tip you will learn how to import STL files into SOLIDWORKS as a Graphics Body (default), Solid Body, and Surface Body.

Step 1: Use the SOLIDWORKS Open Command; File → Open

Step 2: Select .STL as File Type

Step 3: Select Options

Step 4: Choose desired import type; Graphics Body, Solid Body, Surface Body

Step 5: Open Document

Depending on your selection of Import from Step 4. You will have different functionality of the STL file. When you select Graphics Body you don’t have any editing ability of the part. It is only a visual representation of the STL file to review. If you select either Solid Body or Surface Body you will receive more information in your design tree, allowing you to edit the model.

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When you use the ‘SOLIDWORKS cabinet layout’ option to create Electrical assemblies for each of the project locations and the top level project, they get sequentially generic names like ’1234.sldasm’.  This is great if you want completely unique file names but it makes it harder to search, especially if you export the assembly to a PDM Professional vault.

The rename process is very easily done either in the SOLIDWORKS CAD software or in the SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematics software. Create your assemblies as you normally would by going into the ‘SOLIDWORKS cabinet layout’ command, generate the assemblies that you need. You just need to ensure that the assembly is not open already in SOLIDWORKS before you do the rename.

1. If you have the SOLIDWORKS assembly already open, save and close the assembly but leave the electrical schematic project open.
2. Right click over the assembly and select ‘Rename…’.
3. Rename the file, but remember to keep the file name unique if you are going to check the files into a PDM vault. Click OK button and then reopen the assembly file and start working on it again.

Rename in SOLIDWORKS Schematics

Or rename in SOLIDWORKS Electrical 3D Task Pane

Happy assembly renaming!

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If you upgraded to SOLIDWORKS 2016, the first thing that you saw was the interface change.  Many reasons lead to the interface change, chief among them was the need to Vectorize the icons for scalability and compatibility with 4K computer monitors.  If you launch SOLIDWORKS 2015 on a computer with a 4K display, the interface icons and elements are very tiny, even with the Icons set to Large.

So focusing on the new interface, SOLIDWORKS 2016 Provides 3 background ‘brightness’ levels as seen here:


With most major changes there are always mixed reactions.  As engineers like consistency, the loudest reactions were full of passion.  In fact the number One enhancement request at SolidWorks World 2016 in Dallas, Texas; was to bring back the familiar Yellow and Green color palette.  So, I’m pleased to announce that with SOLIDWORKS 2016 Service Pack 3, you now have the option to change the color palette back to match the ‘classic’ look of SOLIDWORKS 2015 and prior.  Simply go into Tools/Options, Colors, then set the Icon Color to ‘Classic’, and adjust the Background to ‘Medium Light‘.

change the setting for classic colors.GIF

 So now you can have the new vectorized interface with ‘Classic’ Colors along with the interface brightness of Medium Light to bring back the familiar.

COMPARE 2015 TO 2016.PNG

 Keep in mind that you can mix and match the ‘Classic’ Color palette with the different Background brightness levels.


This leads to a more customizable work environment and a best of both worlds of having a cleaner look to Feature Icons but keeping the “classic” colors that we have grown to love.

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There is a option in SOLIDWORKS drawings that can be very useful but is commonly overlooked. The option is called Disable note merging when dragging and is located in Tools > Options > System Options > Drawings. This option is typically checked by default but there are some good uses for unchecking it. While this option is unchecked you can drag a note on top of another note and SOLIDWORKS will automatically merge the notes. The system will put the note as a new line on the existing note. If you have a bulleted or numbered list the note will be added as the next item on that list (See image below).

It can be very annoying to have notes merge when you don’t intend that to happen which is why this option is typically checked. However as mentioned above there are times where this functionality is very useful. One great use for note merging is when you combine it with storing common annotations in the Design Library. For example with mechanical notes instead of putting one big Design Library stored annotation into a drawing then deleting the lines you don’t need you could store several individual lines separately in the Design Library. This way you can quickly drag and drop only the notes you need on the list and SOLIDWORKS will automatically merge them.

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