Top 10 Features I Am Thankful for in SOLIDWORKS

By Justin Lingerfelt on

As a SOLIDWORKS user, I am always excited when new software features and enhancements are released every year. The more I use the software, the more I realize how valuable these updates are and how much they improve my experience. Features such as customizing mouse buttons or accessing drawing arcs help me save time and add more details to my designs. In this blog post, I share with you my top ten personal favorite SOLIDWORKS features and why I am thankful for them.

10. Library Features

It’s so nice to avoid having to redraw common features over and over. I used to despise having to look up the cut-out dimensions for various connectors when making electronic enclosures. With library features, I can do it one time and then reuse those features on all future designs. A little effort up front saves me a lot of time.

Library Feature Options in SOLIDWORKSClick to enlarge Library Feature in SOLIDWORKS

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9. Power Trim/Extend

Power trim makes getting rid of those extra lines in your design in a breeze. By holding the left mouse button and dragging the tracer across the lines, you can automatically trim the design. Bonus: By holding down the Shift key while dragging the lines, the function switches from trim to extend!

Power Trim in SOLIDWORKS

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8. Mouse Gestures

I love the push in recent years to reduce mouse travel time as you design. It took me a few days to get accustomed to mouse gestures, but now I can’t do without them. To apply them, you hold down the right mouse button and pass over the command you wish to use. You can customize the number of commands available (I prefer eight), in four distinct environments (sketch, part, drawing and assembly). Just right-click on the CommandManager to customize your mouse gestures.

Mouse Gestures Feature in SOLIWORKS

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Mouse Gestures in SOLIDWORKS


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>> Read our blog, Customize Your Mouse Buttons in SOLIDWORKS

7. Hole Wizard

When I first started as a mechanical designer, I always had my machinery’s handbook open on my desk so that I could look for fit tolerances, threads, etc. Now, I rarely need to open it, thanks to features like the Hole Wizard in SOLIDWORKS. All that information is accessible in one tool. Threaded, Counterbore, NPT threads and more are all in this one tool.

Hole Wizard SOLIDWORKS FeatureClick to enlarge

>> Watch our Video Tech Tip, Customize Your Hole Wizard in SOLIDWORKS

6. Tangent Arcs Hotkey/Gesture

Lines and tangent arcs go together like Sriracha sauce and almost any food. Wouldn’t it be great if you could easily access drawing arcs on the fly? Well, good news! You can. While drawing lines, you can press the A key, or if your keyboard is too far from your hand, move the cursor back to the last endpoint to activate the tangent arc mode. Tip: Depending on the direction you leave the endpoint, you will get different results for the tangent.

Tangent Arc Feature

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5. Hide and Show With Tab/Shift + Tab

This feature makes working with assemblies so much easier. Hovering over a part and hitting the Tab key hides a part. Your component will be visible in the way you want to view it. Shift +Tab will bring it back, or clicking “show hidden components” will allow users to unhide all hidden components.

Hide Show Feature in SOLIDWORKS

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4. Quick Mates
Putting together components in an assembly is a breeze, thanks to quick mates. Holding the Ctrl key while selecting references (faces, edges, vertices) brings up the Quick Mates icons. This capability has improved year after year. Most recently, positioning has been added to slots mates and width mates along with adding limit distance and angle mates.

Quick Mates in SOLIDWORKS

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3. Breadcrumbs

After about half a day of working with breadcrumbs, I knew this was going to be the easiest way to find what I was looking for in my feature tree. Breadcrumbs are, they are the icons that appear in the upper left of your viewport, displaying related information to whatever you clicked on. Interacting with assemblies, finding features or selecting reference planes has never been easier. As a bonus, hitting the D key will bring the breadcrumbs right to your cursor. Gone are the days of constantly expanding and collapsing the feature tree to hunt for things.Breadcrumbs in SOLIDWORKS

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2. Previous Selection

Ever have several items selected only to click in space accidentally and lose them all? Well, you can get back those selections just by right-clicking and using the Previous Selection option. Doing this has saved me so much frustration as I tend to zoom around the model a little quicker than I should.


Previous Selection Option in SOLIDWORKS

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1. Command Finder

Without a doubt, my favorite feature is the Command Finder. With hundreds of commands in SOLIDWORKS, it is almost impossible to remember them all. Enter the Command Finder, a search bar that will locate the command for you and either open it or show you where it is. This is a tool that made learning the software so much easier. As an advanced user, it helps me to get to the tools I’m looking for quickly without having to dig through menus.


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Are you interested in learning about SOLIDWORKS 2020? Our TriMech 20 for 20 Showcase: What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2020 Spotlight will give you access to twelve of our webinars that include demonstrations and explanations of these new features and updates.