A Few Great Uses for the ALT Key in SOLIDWORKS

Article by GoEngineer on Jun 15, 2019

It’s time to get that other hand ready to start using the ALT key. Below is a short list of great time saving, and stress relieving uses of the ALT key. Well maybe not stress relieving, but when time is saved you can spend more of it doing things you like right?

Toggle on the selection of sketch contours

Use the ALT key while hovering over sketch regions to quickly toggle on the selection of sketch contours.

Disable soft snapping

Are you ever annoyed by that soft snapping thing while adding dimensions? You know those little yellow lines that try to force you to align the dimension you are adding to other dimensions on the drawing? (See Figure 1) It’s great when it’s working for you, but when it starts getting in the way it’s time to use the ALT key.

Disable Soft Snapping SOLIDWORKS ALT key

Figure 1

Hold down the ALT key when adding a dimension to quickly disable soft snapping on the fly. Let go of the ALT key after the dimension is added to get it back.

Quickly change sketch entities for construction

With any sketch entities selected press ALT+C on your keyboard to change them to construction geometry. Okay so you have to use two fingers for this one. It beats clicking through property managers.

Quickly change sketch entities for contruction SOLIDWORKS ALT key fig 2

Figure 2

Quickly change sketch entities for contruction SOLIDWORKS ALT key fig 3

Figure 3

Toggle on the selection of sketch contours

Use the ALT key while hovering over sketch regions to quickly toggle on the selection of sketch contours.

Move or delete icons on the fly

Holding the ALT key down will allow you to drag icons around. You can rearrange your toolbar, drag an Icon from one toolbar to another, or drag the icon off of a toolbar to delete it.

Move or Delete Icons on the Fly SOLIDWORKS ALT key

Figure 4

Quickly add mates without preselecting faces or clicking the mate icon

My personal ALT key favorite is using ALT+drag when moving parts in an assembly to envoke “Smart Mates”. Hold down ALT and drag the face, edge, or vertex of one part to the same of another to quicly add a mate. (See Figure 5)

Also, if you use CTRL+ALT while dragging it will create a copy of the part and mate it at the same time.

Add Mates Quickly SOLIDWORKS ALT key

Figure 5

Safely reorder components in your assembly

When reordering components in your assembly, you can accidentally merge one into a subassembly. Holding the ALT key down allows you to reorder components below subassemblies by dropping them right on top of one. (See Figure 6)

Reorder Components SOLIDWORKS ALT key

Figure 6

Rotate clockwise or counter clockwise

Holding the ALT key down while hitting the left or right arrows on your keyboard allows you to rotate your model clockwise or counter clockwise normal to your screen. (See Figures 7 & 8)

ALT + Right Arrow = Counter Clockwise

Rotate with SOLIDWORKS ALT key

Figure 7

ALT + Left Arrow = Clockwise

These are just a few great ways to use the ALT key, but there are many more. Hopefully this was enough to get you thinking that other hand is more than useless when using SOLIDWORKS. 

About GoEngineer

GoEngineer delivers software, technology and expertise that enable companies to unlock design innovation and deliver better products faster. With more than 35 years' experience and tens of thousands of customers in high tech, medical, machine design, energy and other industries, GoEngineer provides best-in-class design solutions from SOLIDWORKS CAD, Stratasys 3D printing, Creaform & Artec 3D scanning, CAMWorks, PLM, Altair, and more

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