Tried-and-True SOLIDWORKS Features to Help You Design Faster

by Nic Rady

As abigstock-A-speedometer-or-gauge-trackin-48786146-300x260 design engineer, I’m always on the lookout for features to help speed along modeling and streamline the design process.

With the new release of SOLIDWORKS 2016, I see some features I know will be helpful.

But before I detail the 2016 features, I wanted to highlight a few “old” features that I rely on often and that will remain in the new release. Hopefully you find these tried-and-true features as helpful as I do.

Quick Tricks to Maximize SOLIDWORKS Features:

Shift-Click on an Arc
Before I knew about this trick, I would struggle with dimensioning an arc from the center and then trying to drag the dimension to one of the quadrant points so I could get the correct model dimension that I wanted. Thankfully someone showed me that by holding the shift key before clicking on the arc, smart dimension will dimension to the arc itself, rather than its center.

Double Dimensions
For the same reason that we use π over τ, there are times when we model half of the geometry but are given the full dimension. Of course, you can always do the arithmetic, but if you have to make changes later on, it is easier to place the dimension that is measurable. So, when in this situation, you can smart dimension to a construction line and place either a linear or angular dimension on the other side giving the full double dimension.

We all have common commands that we use all the time. To avoid moving the mouse all over the screen, we can customize the shortcut menu (brought up near the mouse curser with the s-key) to bring up our favorite commands without having to look for them, or reach across the screen each time.

Select Other
Sometimes we are selecting entities and find that the one we want is on the other side of the model, or worse, inside the model and we can’t select it without moving or hiding bodies. Well, instead of doing either of these, right-click about where that entity is located and try Select Other. This command looks behind the mouse at all the other entities that could be selected.

Tab/Shift-Tab to Show/Hide Components
A very handy trick when working with assemblies is to quickly hide components with the tab key and show them again with shift-tab.

Midpoint Line
Hidden under the line tool is a feature called the Midpoint Line. I have a habit of wanting to create a revolve feature with a construction line that goes to infinity (mostly so that it is obvious what I am revolving about). Before this tool was around, I would have to create a line, make it construction and infinite in length, and then I would have to add a relationship to some point to constrain it (typically the origin). Now, I just grab the midpoint line from my shortcut menu, click-drag-release from the origin, and hit the infinite and construction line check boxes on the property manager. Of course there are other uses, but man did I get excited when this came out last year!

These are just a few handy tidbits that SOLIDWORKS has included throughout the years to make modeling easier and quicker. This year’s upcoming release is no different.

Very soon, I will share with you some of the new features that SOLIDWORKS 2016 has to offer, a few of which are very nice expansions on the ones above.


If you’d like to see what’s new in SOLIDWORKS 2016 presented by our Technical Team, check out a list of our live launch events.




2 thoughts on “Tried-and-True SOLIDWORKS Features to Help You Design Faster

  1. AvatarGary Connell

    I am importing step files and features are not recognize.
    A green arrow point left is on the part icon.
    The part cannot be opened outside the assembly.

    1. Sandy OrtezSandy Ortez

      In SOLIDWORKS 2016 onwards, all SOLIDWORKS users have access to FeatureWorks which should help translate features most of the time. The icon might be indicating that this was a part inserted into another part in the native CAD format. Sometimes after translating, those can’t be opened independently.” – Amee Meghani


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