Highlighting some Hidden Gems in the SolidWorks User Interface
My model is gone!
If you click or right-click a model and accidentally select “Hide” from the menu or toolbar, the model isn’t displayed. Running the cursor up and down the Feature Manager shows a temporary wireframe outline of each feature, but no model. Just use the same menu or toolbar to show the model again. Right-click a feature to open the shortcut bar and click the icon “Show”.
Feature Manager Hide & Seek
There’s another setting that makes missing items harder to diagnose. The right-click “Hide/Show Tree Items” opens System Options>Feature Manager where you can show or hide 16 different click items in the Feature Manager.
By default, the Solid Bodies and Surface Bodies folders and many others are set to Automatic which means the folders are not shown at all unless there is one item or more in them. This masks another clue that a solid/surface body is hidden. I prefer to set every option to Show, as a reminder that there “might” be something each of the folders.
Navigating a long Feature Manager
It can take while to scroll through a long tree to find and edit a specific feature. That’s where the Feature Manager “Favorites” folder can help. It’s one of those items that can be hidden, shown or automatic, and it lives right at the top of the Feature Manager. Use it as a shortcut to a feature as follows: Right-click the desired feature and choose Add to Favorites. This puts a copy of that feature Icon in the Favorites folder where it’s easily found. You can edit the feature right in the Favorites folder. A word of caution: if you want to remove a feature from Favorites, don’t delete it because the feature down in the tree will be deleted. Instead, right-click and select Remove from Favorites.
Below Favorites is the History folder, which is a list of recently accessed features. The number of recent features in the folder can be controlled. It’s yet another way to go back to a specific feature for editing.
Another navigation tool is Feature Manager “Search”. Just enter part of the feature name in the search window. As you type, the search results are refined, giving an ever smaller list of possibilities. You don’t have to start typing at the beginning of a feature name. Entering a few unique characters anywhere in the name is often enough to locate it. You can edit a feature directly from the search results, or right click and add it to the Favorites folder for instant access.
You can also use the Rollback bar, which is blue and by default lives at the bottom of the Feature Manager. Moving the Rollback bar up the tree “rolls back” the history to that point, and allows a new feature to be inserted above the bar. The rollback bar prevents features below it from rebuilding. For that reason, it’s a good idea to move the bar to the bottom and see if the inserted feature creates any errors in downstream features.
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