SOLIDWORKS Mouse Mapping for Inventor Power Users

By Alin Vargatu on

In today’s multi-CAD world, it is quite common for a company to own multiple CAD packages. Users are usually experts in operating the main CAD software, but occasionally need to perform certain tasks using a different software. When they frequently switch from one software to another, their efficiency is directly linked to the ability to switch techniques to comply to the particularities of each software.

One of the clients I am providing consulting services this summer has been using Inventor as the main CAD software for a long time. Since most of their suppliers and clients are using SOLIDWORKS, they acquired several SOLIDWORKS seats and use them occasionally.

I have a lot of experience turning users of other CAD packages into SOLIDWORKS power users, so I was sure retraining these engineers would be a walk in the park. For example, one of the best techniques to quickly master the use of a new CAD interface is to forget all the techniques you used in the previous software and learn the best practices applicable in the new one. But… this is not what they needed! They simply wanted to be able to seamlessly switch from using Inventor to occasionally using SOLIDWORKS as productive as possible, while using most of the techniques applicable to Inventor.

A major problem was the default functionality for the middle mouse button (MMB). In Inventor, dragging the mouse while holding the MMB results in panning the viewport, while in SOLIDWORKS would cause the rotation of the viewport around the cursor. When your hand is performing thousands of panning operations every day one way, it is next to impossible to be productive when the other software uses a different combination of keys and buttons.

So…as a consultant, I was challenged to find a solution to remap the function of the MMB only for the SOLIDWORKS application. Unfortunately, there is no setting in SOLIDWORKS that could change the default function of the mouse buttons. Moreover, the engineers I am working with use various brands of mice, so we cannot tweak all their drivers. We needed a free solution that would get the job done for everyone.

Fortunately, a genial programmer, Phillip Gibbons has written the perfect piece of software to remap the buttons of any mouse used in Windows: X-Mouse Button Control.

Let’s see how SOLIDWORKS mouse mapping solves our challenge.

Step 1

Download the X-Mouse Button Control using this link.

Step 2

Install it. I recommend using the default options.

Step 3

Run it. You will see the window shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Remember that we do not want to change the behavior of the mouse for all programs, but only for SOLIDWORKS. So, let’s create a unique profile for SOLIDWORKS.

Step 4

Make sure SOLIDWORKS is running. That would ensure the sldworks.exe process is available for selection (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – Task Manager shows the SOLIDWORKS is running

Figure 2 – Task Manager shows the SOLIDWORKS is running

Step 5

In the X-Mouse Button Control window, press the Add button (Figure 3).

Mouse Mapping 3
Figure 3

Step 6

In the Choose Application window select sldworks.exe and click OK. Feel free to edit the Description (Figure 4).

Control panel drop down
Figure 4

Since panning in SOLIDWORKS is triggered by holding down the Control key and dragging the mouse with the MMB pressed, this is the key/button combination that should be sent to Windows. To achieve that follow these steps:

Step 7

In the Middle Button menu, select Simulated Keys (Figure 5).

SOLIDWORKS Mouse Mapping 5
Figure 5

Step 8

Make sure that 3 During (press on down, release on up) is selected in the How to send the simulated strokes drop-down menu.

Check these boxes:

  • Only send if profile’s process is active
  • Block original mouse input

In the box below the Enter the custom key(s) type: {CTRL}{MMB}

In the Description box type: Panning in SOLIDWORKS (Figure 6).

Click OK.

SOLIDWORKS Mouse Mapping
Figure 6

Step 9

Make sure the box next to sldworks.exe is checked (Figure 7).

Figure 7

If you want to share this profile with your colleagues, you can save it and they can load it using the Save Profile and Load Profile buttons (Figure 8).

Figure 8


The result is the ones my clients expected: to be able to use the mouse in SOLIDWORKS exactly as their hands were wired after using Inventor extensively over the years. The improvement in operating efficiency is significant, since they are no longer distracted every few seconds by unexpected viewport rotations.

Can you think of any other use cases for this tool?

About the Author

man with glasses

As an Elite AE and Senior Training and Process Consultant, Alin Vargatu is a Problem Hunter and Solver.

He has presented 33 times at 3DEXPERIENCE World and SOLIDWORKS World, twice at SLUGME and tens of times at SWUG meetings in Canada and the United States. His blog and YouTube channel are well known in the SOLIDWORKS Community.

In recognition for his activity in the SOLIDWORKS Community, at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021, the SWUGN (SOLIDWORKS User Group Network) awarded the SOLIDWORKS AE of the Year title to Alin Vargatu.