GPS For SOLIDWORKS- How to navigate around your models

There’s more to it than just zoom, pan, and rotate. Here are all the tips and tricks to help you navigate around your SOLIDWORKS models like a true power user.

Rotate About Entity: This defines an entity (a face, edge, or vertex) as the axis of rotation. It is a two step process. First, with the middle mouse wheel, double click on the entity and then use the middle mouse wheel to rotate as normal.


Zoom to Fit: Double clicking the middle mouse wheel will fit your entire model to the screen. You can also use the “F” key to fit your model to the graphics area as well.


Normal To: Normal two is a straight forward command however there are two tips worth sharing. The first is that the first time you activate the normal to command will flip the model so your are looking directly at it. If you click normal to a second time the model will flip to the opposite side. In other words, the first normal to command looks at the positive (or green side of a plane) and the second normal to command looks at the negative (or red side of a plane).

Custom Normal To: The second tip with the normal to command is that you can define the “up” orientation where up is at 12:00 if you were looking at your screen like a clock. This tip involves two steps. The first step is to select the face to which you want to look. Then with the shift key selected choose the second face which will define the up orientation.


Zoom to Selection: The magnifying glass with an equal sign in it is the zoom to selection command. This command will zoom directly to selected geometry. This is a great command to help you find small parts in your assembly.


Rotate About Scene Floor: With this option selected the vertical axis will be locked during rotation. This will give the illusion that the model is placed on a floor which prevents the model from tipping and tilting about the horizontal plane. The result is a smooth rotation to show off your models in videos or presentations. Take note of the symbol, because sometimes this option might have been turned on by someone else who was working on the model.


Moving with Reference Triad: The reference triad can be used to change the view orientation of your model. Clicking directly on any of the axis will flip the view normal to the axis. Using a combination of shift, alt, or control, and selecting the axis will rotate the view about the axis either 90 or 15 degrees respectively while the control key will reverse the direction.


Custom Views: When you find an orientation that you like you can save the camera orientation as a custom view. This can also be made a “Global View” which will be available for all documents on your SOLIDWORKS system.


There are 8 tips to help you navigate around your model. With these tips, you’ll never get lost finding your way around your SOLIDORKS models.

Stephen Petrock
Since 1998, TriMech has helped our clients design better products by partnering with them and offering, not only CAD, CAE, PDM, FEA, CAM software products, but also by engineering solutions involving full-time and temporary staffing, contract design, analysis and drafting services, rapid prototyping, custom programming and implementation services. TriMech is a value-added reseller of SOLIDWORKS and Stratasys 3D Printers in the Mid-Atlantic and South-East including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Stephen Petrock