Why You Should Use SOLIDWORKS Shortcuts

Life is full of shortcuts, but those typically don’t work out well for anyone.  Well that’s not the case with SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  There are many places to use shortcuts in parts, sketches, assemblies, and drawings.

Think about how you create a model in SOLIDWORKS.  You choose a sketch plane, start a sketch, find a sketch entity to use, add some dimensions, then extrude that sketch into a feature. You do this over and over again until the model is created.  But during that process are you being as efficient as you can be?  Are you using any SOLIDWORKS shortcuts?  If not, you might consider it after seeing the results of the following examples.

When I’m teaching, I emphasis SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  I have always said they will help get your design completed faster, but I never had any data to put behind it.  So, I figured that I would model the same part two different ways.  First I would model using my typical shortcuts and then with no shortcuts.  I timed myself modeling both ways to see which one was faster.  I also downloaded two tools to help track my mouse movements.  One shows where my mouse has been with a black line and the other tracks the distance in feet that my mouse has traveled.

Here’s the model that I chose.  It’s a part that has 3 extruded bosses, 3 cuts, 3 fillets, 19 sketch entities, and 19 dimensions.














In the first model I used my typical, everyday SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  These shortcuts include some hotkeys (i.e. “L” for line & “D” for dimension), mouse gestures, and the shortcut tool bar (“S” key).

It took me 226 seconds to model it and my mouse traveled 28 feet.  These will be our base values.  Here is what the mouse path graphic looks like.















You can see that my mouse really stayed in the middle of my screen right where my model is.  I didn’t need to move to the Command Manager for anything.

Now let’s look at the example where I didn’t use any SOLIDWORKS shortcuts. It took me 421 seconds to model it and my mouse moved 103 feet.  Here is the mouse path graphic.














I can say that I modeled this as fast as I think I can.  I had to really try to not use any shortcuts.  This was harder than I thought it would be.  As you can see, my mouse spent more time on the Property Manager and Command Manager than in the graphics area.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.  I can see that I had a savings of 46% in time and 73% in mouse movement by using SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.

Time and Travel Savings


I don’t know of a any reason not to use SOLIDWORKS shortcuts.  If you haven’t taken the time to setup any keyboard shortcuts, gestures, or the “S” key toolbar, the above examples should cause you to strongly consider it.  You should customize your environment to match what you do.  If you do a lot of sheet metal, then add the sheet metal tools to the shortcuts.  Identify the features you use the most and make them easily available.

I thought you might be wondering what my “S” key has on it.  Here it is for sketches and parts.





Also, here are two PDFs that show you my settings for shortcut keys and gestures.



Again, be sure to customize your shortcuts to match your needs and begin improving your efficiency today.

Josh Spencer is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Application Engineer, Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert, and Application Engineer at 3DVision Technologies, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller with locations throughout Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. He is a regular contributor to the 3DVision Blog.

3DVision Technologies
Founded in 1995 in Cincinnati, Ohio 3DVision Technologies Corp. has enjoyed over 18 years of success as one of the finest SolidWorks providers in the Great Lakes Region. 3DVision Technologies is a team of experienced mechanical engineers that support the visions of engineers globally. With solutions for the design and manufacturing industries including 3D solid-modeling, computer aided analysis, product data management and 3D Printers our products solve engineers' most important product development goals: higher quality products, less time to market, lower development costs, better design communication, collaboration and review.
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