Over the years of working with Solidworks, I have collected several small and big Solidworks tips and tricks which I have compiled in this article and eBook.
These tips are divided into different categories like sketches, part modeling, Assembly, and drawing.
So, in this article, I am sharing all these tips from different Solidworks workspaces.
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Sketcher and Part Modeling
All the tips from the sketch environment and part modeling workspace are listed in this section.
Tip 1: Direct sketches on edges
Select the edge of any 3D solid like a straight edge or an arc-type edge then click on any Solidworks sketch tool.
It will enter the sketch environment and automatically create a plane perpendicular to the selected edge.
You can now make a sketch on that newly created plane and you don’t need to create a plane separately for the sketch, check the following video for reference.
The sketch plane will be made on the endpoint of the edge which is closer to the point where we click on the edge.
Tip 2: Quick repeat of the last command
When the line command is active and you want to exit the command but want to start the same command again so as to make a sketch from a different location then double click and the line will terminate and the command will still remain active.
The same goes for other similar commands like Spline.
Tip 3: Selecting circumference or center for constraints
When adding smart dimension when you press and hold the shift key, the dimension can be constrained to start from the circumference near the point of click rather than from the center of the circle.
Tip 4: Making arc and line using same command
In the line command when you move your cursor back to the last point of the line command the geometry will convert into an arc and once you finish making the arc it will return back to the line.
The way your cursor moves away from the last point will determine the shape of the arc as well.
Alternatively, you can make a line and then with the line command active hit the A key on the keyboard, and the line will convert to arc again, press the A key again to return back to the line.
Tip 5: Quick way of copying sketches
Press and hold the CTRL key then move any existing sketch and a copy will be made of the selected sketch.
Tip 6: Activating 3D mouse
When working with a 3D mouse like the one from 3D connexion if the mouse does not work then go to “Add-Ins” and make sure “3D connexion add-In for Solidworks” is checked.
Make sure it’s checked at “start-up” so that you don’t need to do it every time the software starts.
Tip 7: Showing recent files
Type R key and a recent files window will show up where all the recently used Solidworks files will display.
You can open any file from this list simply by clicking on it.
Tip 8: Creating shortcut for commands
Go to Customize > Keyboard option and then search for the command you want to create a shortcut for.
Type the shortcut key from your keyboard that you want to assign to that command and press OK.
Now instead of using the command manager interface, you can type the assigned shortcut and the command will launch.
Tip 9: Adding command to shortcut bar
Go to customize > Shortcut bars and there you can select a command and add it to the shortcut bar.
Alternatively, you can search for a command in the shortcuts bar and then click the + icon to add it to the bar.
To remove any command simply move it away from the bar after going to customize > shortcut bars.
Tip 10: Rotating view to align with the selected plane
To rotate the view of the selected sketch plane automatically with respect to the view direction go to Options > Sketch and the checkbox that says “Auto-rotate view normal to sketch plane on sketch creation and sketch edit”.
Tip 11: Converting an image into sketch
To automatically convert a high-contrast image (usually a black and white or two-colour image) into a sketch automatically in Solidworks you can use its Autotrace feature.
To use this feature go to the Add-ins option from the quick access toolbar menu and activate the “Autotrace” add-in as shown in the following image.
After activating the add-in go to the sketch option and activate a sketch plane then go to the “Tools” menu “sketch tools” and “Sketch picture” and select the picture from where you want to extract the sketch.
Now click the next arrow in the Sketch picture palette and select the eye dropper and click the area with dark contrast from the image as shown in the following video.
Now click Begin trace and SolidWorks will generate a sketch using that picture.
You can scale the picture before tracing it to fit the sketch as per your drawing. You can hide this picture after tracing or even remove it if you want.
Tip 12: Making sketches on any plane
To make a sketch on any plane of an existing 3D solid without creating or changing planes for every sketch you can use the rapid sketch tool.
Activate rapid sketch from the sketch command manager then select a sketch tool and directly start making a sketch on any plane of an existing 3D solid.
All the sketches made of different planes will be added as separate sketches on the feature tree.
Tip 13: Showing file thumbnails in explorer
In file explorer, if you don’t see the thumbnails of your files then you can select this option to make them visible.
Go to options from the command manager and then select general and check the option “Show thumbnail graphics in windows explorer” option as shown in the following image.
After selecting this option make sure you select “large icons” in the view option of file explorer as well and the thumbnails will show up for all the parts and assemblies.
Tip 14: Command search feature
If you know the name of a command but don’t know its location on the Solidworks interface then this tip is for you.
The command search feature is on the top right corner of the SolidWorks interface.
Simply type the name of the command and the command with similar commands will show up.
You can start the command directly by selecting it from there.
You can also see its location in the user interface by clicking the eye icon next to the command.
In this section, I have added all the tips from the assembly workspace of Solidworks.
Tip 15: Checking details with the magnifying glass
Pressing G opens a magnifying glass which can be used in the assembly environment to zoon into tight spaces without orbiting complete assemblies.
Tip 16: Selecting hidden features
To select a feature that is hidden from view because of another component in an assembly select the mate tool then move your cursor above the object which is obscuring your view then right-click.
From the menu that shows up select the option “Select other” and then select the object you want from the list of objects that shows up as shown in the following image.
After selecting the feature you can repeat the same option to select more features in an assembly that are directly not visible.
Tip 17: Hiding components
In an assembly press and hold the tab key and move your mouse over components, components touching the cursor will hide.
To bring back hidden components right-click in the work area and select “Show hidden components” from the context menu.
Then select the components you want to show again one by one or by a selection window.
You can also hover your cursor over a component and then press the Alt key one by one to hide selected components.
Tip 18: Automatically apply constraints
Select an edge or face of a component then press and hold the alt key and move the component to another edge or face of a different component.
This will automatically apply the applicable mates in the assembly between the mating components or it will show you a “Mate” flyout where you can select the mate to apply from the options.
Tip 19: Filtering assembly files based on the type
When opening assemblies you can create a quick filter to show just the assembly or only top-level assembly files from your folder containing hundreds of files.
This makes sorting through the list of files very easy.
You can also select a specific file type from the list as shown in option B of the image and the folder will only show the file types that you need.
Additionally, you can only load the assemblies using the different modes like “lightweight”, and “large design review” and resolved as shown in option C of the image.
The “Large Design Review” option opens an assembly with graphics data only which loads up the assembly very quickly.
You can still use the edit assembly feature to insert or remove components, mates, and patterns in this mode of assembly.
Lightweight mode opens the assembly with graphics and geometric data and you can load feature data as required.
This mode is also faster as it loads features on demand.
Resolved will load the entire assembly with all the data in it and it is the slowest.
In this section, I have added all the tips from the drawing workspace of Solidworks.
Tip 20: Selecting drawing view
Press and hold the ALT key to select the drawing view even when the cursor is just inside the bounding box.
If you don’t press and hold the ALT key only clicking directly on the view will select it and clicking on the bounding box will not select it.
I constantly keep updating this list whenever I learn new things about Solidworks.
So, if you think you have a Solidworks tip that is worth sharing then let me know in the comments below and I will add it to this list and eBook.
If you are completely new to Solidworks then the free Solidworks essentials course can be a great starting point for you.