Making SOLIDWORKS Feel Like Home – Customizing the UI

When you go home at the end of the day, I am sure your house is laid out just the way you like it, making it easy to get around. Why not layout SOLIDWORKS in the same way, making all your useful and commonly used commands just a mouse click away?

Think of it this way, most people spend more time in the office than they do in their own living room, so why not make it comfortable.

When it comes to customizing the SOLIDWORKS User Interface you can go as subtle or as drastic as you wish, whether it be simply changing icon size, adding a new command to the command manager or all the way to rearranging the tool bars on your screen. So, lets start simple. When it comes to the command manger everyone has their own personal preferences, some people like to see text next to each command and some people like to simply have small icons that they can use. All these things can be controlled from within one simple window which can be accessed by a right-click on the command manager and selecting the ‘Customize…’ option.



In the customize window there are a ton of customization options just waiting to be discovered:

  1. Using these options, you can select if you want the Command Manager to be displayed at all and if you want text to be displayed next to each command.
  2. You can even select the size of the icons for each of the commands, making things a little easier on the eyes.
  3. With the shortcut bars we can add commonly used commands for the relevant file that we are working with, whether it be a part, assembly, drawing or even if you are in a sketch. This means that we access the commands we need at a click of a button. From the series of drop downs, we can find the commands we need and simply drag and drop them onto the relevant toolbar.
    Finally, we can use these shortcut bars by simply hitting the S key on our keyboard when working on our files and then menu will appear right at out mouse, ready to use.
    – When you hit the S key it also activates the search commands bar.
  4. Using the commands tab we can quickly and easily add new commands to the command manager, by dragging them from the customize window and dropping them on the tab of the command manager that we want (This can also be done by dragging commands from the search bar).
    Don’t worry if you accidentally drop the wrong command on the Command Manger as you can simply drag and drop it in the graphics area to remove it again.
  5. Using the Keyboard tab, we can get access to the default keyboard shortcuts available within SOLIDWORKS. Not only this, but we can also set our own custom keyboard shortcuts from within this tab. All we need to do is find the command we are interested in and set the shortcut.
  6. Mouse Gestures are a great way of increasing your productivity and generally just making your job a little bit easier. Mouse gestures can be used by holding down your right mouse button in the graphics window and moving your mouse. The commands on the gesture wheel can once again be customized to suit your needs best. You can have as few as two commands here, or if you are feeling confident then you can have up to 12 commands.

    Just like with the shortcut bars, we can drag and drop commands from the search list on to the gesture wheel we want. This is one of my favorite ways to work!


Another couple of ways you could make the SOLIDWORKS UI more homely is by adjusting the icon color and background theme. This is a good one for anyone who liked the retro look used in SW 2014 & 2015. These options can be adjusted within your System Options > Colors:

(For the retro look, try setting the icon color to classic and the background to Medium Light) These options are just the tip of the iceberg for the level of customization within SW, but they certainly make your day of day work that little bit easier.



Kieran Young is an Applications Engineer at TMS CADCentre, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller in Scotland.

You can read more from Kieran on the TMS CADCentre blog

TMS CADCentre is a SOLIDWORKS Reseller based in Scotland providing CAD Design Software, analysis software & product data management software. Founded in 1981, TMS CADCentre is the only UK SOLIDWORKS Reseller based and funded within Scotland and have been providing SOLIDWORKS software, training and support since 1996 when the product was first launched in the UK.