Technical Tip: SolidWorks Heads-Up View Toolbar

This blog post is the fourth in a series of technical tips about the SolidWorks User Interface. Call the series "Everything you wanted to know about —–, but were afraid to ask". The first few posts will be about the various types of toolbars available in the system. This post is about the SolidWorks Heads-Up View Toolbar.

Heads-Up View Toolbar

The Heads-Up View Toolbar was added at the top of the document graphics area in SolidWorks 2008 to provide easy access to viewing functions that affect the graphics area. Below is an image of the default Heads-Up View Toolbar.


In SolidWorks 2008 and 2009, this toolbar contains a limited set of viewing commands and which commands are currently visible on the toolbar is controlled by using the right mouse button shortcut menu on the toolbar. To completely hide the toolbar in SolidWorks 2008 or 2009, you must deselect all of the buttons in the visibility list. If you have hidden the entire toolbar to make it visible again, move your mouse to the very center of the top of the graphics area and hit the right mouse button to get the visibility menu.

Starting with SolidWorks 2010, this toolbar has been upgraded to be consistent with normal toolbars; hide/show visibility of the entire toolbar is controlled in the same manner as regular toolbars and customization is also handled in the same manner (i.e. any button can be added/removed from the toolbar through the use of Tools, Customize). The only differences between this toolbar and a regular toolbar are: 1) It cannot be undocked. 2) Visibility control is stored twice; once for drawings and once for parts/assemblies. 3) Customization of what buttons are shown is stored twice instead of once; once for drawings and once for parts/assemblies.

This toolbar shows in the currently "active" viewport of the graphics area (of which there is only one by default so it is always visible). To activate a viewport, click in the viewport.

When we added the Heads-Up View Toolbar, we also added some new flyout toolbar buttons to make some of the most common viewing functions easier to access. These flyouts can be placed on any toolbar (not just the Heads-Up View Toolbar) by dragging them from Tools, Customize, Commands, View. The specific view flyouts that we added in SolidWorks 2008 are:

View Orientation– This flyout has all of the standard view orientations, user defined orientations, and options for splitting/linking the viewports. The standard views are shown in a common orientation that is easier to interpret than the linear layout of the View Orientation dialog or the Standard Views toolbar. Below is an image of the view orientation flyout shown with two user defined views on it.


Display Style– This flyout consolidates the five different display styles into one flyout, occupying less space. The user can still customize the interface to have the individual display style buttons on their toolbar if they use certain styles more often than others and want direct access with one click instead of two.


Hide/Show Items – This flyout performs the same function as selecting items to hide/show in the top level View menu, but overcomes the number one complaint about the menu which is you cannot select/deselect multiple items without invoking the menu multiple times. Unfortunately, the single select behavior is a behavior of Microsoft menus which cannot be overridden, so we introduced the Hide/Show Items flyout as an improved method to hide/show multiple display items. The image below was taken in SolidWorks 2010 where starting with Beta3, the icon in the lower right corner is used for toggling dimension names on/off (this is now a per document setting instead of a system setting).


Apply Scene– This flyout was added to easily change between different background scenes. You can cycle to the next scene in the list by pushing the icon portion of the button or you can choose a specific scene by using the flyout portion. Users often ask how to make their background white and the image below shows the "Plain White" background selected. Note that scenes are per document, so if you don't want to use different scenes for different documents (i.e. you want a plain white or other background for ALL documents), go to Tools, Options, System Options, Colors and choose from one of the other options under "Background appearance".


Display Settings – This flyout contains three less commonly used display settings (again, consolidated into one flyout to save space). Again, the user can customize the interface to have these individual display style buttons on their toolbar if desired.


If users see anything I have missed about the Heads-Up View Toolbar in this blog post, please comment and I will try to update the blog.

The next few topics in the series about toolbars will be:

  • Toolbar Flyouts
  • The Shortcut Bar ('S' key)
  • Context Toolbars


Jim Wilkinson

Jim Wilkinson

Jim Wilkinson

Jim is Vice President, User Experience Architecture at Dassault Systemès SolidWorks Corporation