The First of Alin’s Top Productivity Tips: One Click to Find Your Files
As a Process and Training Consultant at TriMech Solutions, I have the privilege of working with thousands of SOLIDWORKS users from all industries, learning from each of them and discovering new ways to tailor the software’s functionality to address goals and needs for each company. As you can imagine, by learning new things every day, I have accumulated a huge treasure chest of tips worth their weight in gold, platinum and diamonds.
Figure 1. Alin’s treasure chest of best practices, tips and tricks.
Starting with this article, I begin sharing the most sparkling ones with the readers of EngineersRule.com.
Browsing, Searching or Simply… Clicking
What is the first thing most users do upon starting SOLIDWORKS? Open a file, of course.
95 percent of users find the files they need to open by browsing through multiple folders. This is a costly process that can take tens of seconds and even minutes. The other 5 percent use some type of a search tool, either as part of PDM or the Windows operating system. Searching, especially using the PDM functionality, is much faster than browsing but still requires typing and multiple clicks.
But most of the time, the document we need to find has been used recently and could be found instantly using the versatile Recent Documents list. Therefore, the focus of this article is on digging up all the gems buried in this tool.
Accessing the Recent Documents List
The documents used recently can be found by accessing the Recent tab in the Welcome dialog box. This box appears automatically once SOLIDWORKS is loaded, unless at one time you checked the Do not show on startup box.
Figure 2. The Welcome dialog box.
The Welcome dialog box can be recalled at will by:
- Pressing the Home icon on the standard toolbar.
- Pressing the Home icon on the task pane.
- Double-clicking on the empty SOLIDWORKS window.
That being said, the fastest way to access the recent documents list is by using the R keyboard shortcut.
Setting Up the Maximum Number of Recent Documents Displayed
The number of recent documents displayed is 50 by default. Users can increase or decrease this number from 1 to 100 by adjusting the corresponding system setting.
I strongly recommend checking the box that allows for the inclusion of documents opened from other documents. Examples:
- Opening a component of an assembly.
- Opening a part or an assembly referred by a drawing view from a drawing.
Recent Documents Functionality
Filter documents by:
- Type: Parts, Assemblies and Drawings
- Top-level assemblies
- Combinations of all the above
See more information about the document:
- Date modified
- Owner (who has writing rights)
Pin documents at the top of the list.
Select the document in File Explorer.
Remove documents from the Recent Documents list:
- All unpinned documents
- All documents
Open documents (writable or read-only):
- Quick view (for parts)
- Lightweight (assemblies and drawings)
- Large Design Review (assemblies)
- Detailing (drawings)
- Select opening configuration
- Select opening display state
- Access file references
- Load or not hidden components (assemblies)
- Force the loading of Speedpak configurations (assemblies and drawings)
The filter area is found at the top of the dialog box.
Figure 6. Display all recent documents.
The first three icons are toggle buttons. Any combination of part, assembly or drawing type can be displayed, as shown in Figures 6 through 12.
Figure 7. Display part documents only.
Figure 8. Display assembly documents only.
Figure 9. Display drawing documents only.
Figure 10. Display part and assembly documents.
Figure 11. Display part and drawings documents.
Figure 12. Display assembly and drawing documents.
A special toggle button is the Filter Top-Level Assemblies icon. Once activated, it will cancel the other three filters and will display only the assemblies that are not used as subassemblies in their own folder.
All four icons can be used in conjunction with the text input in the Filter by Name box. Documents matching the file type, which contains the string of characters from the Filters by Name box, will be displayed.
Figure 13. Filter by Name.
Figure 14. Filter Top-Level Assemblies.
Access More Information About a Document
Hover over a document tile to see:
- Document type
- Date modified
- Owner (who has writing rights)
Figure 15. Hover to see document details.
Pin and Unpin Documents
If users plan to work with the same document for a longer duration (such as hours, days or weeks), it is a good idea to pin it. To do that, hover over the document and select the pin icon.
Pinned documents will be moved to the top of the list, behind only previously pinned documents. These documents will not disappear from the list, regardless of how many other files are opened.
Figure 16. Pinned vs. unpinned documents.
Quickly Locate and Select Documents in File Explorer
One of the most useful functions of this tool is the ability to instantly trigger the opening of a File Explorer window in the folder where the document is located and with the document already selected.
For that, hover over a document tile and select Show in Folder.
Figure 17. Show in folder.
Remove Tiles from the Recent Documents List
At the end of a project, it is a good idea to declutter the Recent Documents list.
To remove individual tiles, right-click on the tile and select Remove.
Figure 18. Remove tiles from Recent Documents.
To remove multiple tiles, select the Remove drop-down button and select either:
- Unpinned items
- All items
Advanced Opening Functionality
To turn on the advanced opening box, you can either:
- Hover over the document tile and select the double arrow from the bottom right corner of the tile (Figure 20).
- Right click on the tile and select Open with options (Figure 21).
The result is shown in Figure 22.
Be curious and select each drop-down menu in turn.
- Open resolved
- Open read-only
- Quick View and Resolved for parts (Figure 23).
- Large Design Review, Lightweight and Resolved for assemblies (Figure 24).
- Detailing, Lightweight and Resolved for drawings (Figure 25).
For parts and assemblies, the document can be opened in a specified configuration or display state.
It is worth noting that new configurations can be automatically created for assemblies upon opening if the <Advanced> option is selected (Figures 27 and 28).
Assemblies and drawings can be forced to automatically load all components in a Speedpak configuration, if one exists (Figure 29).
To speed up the opening process, assemblies can be opened without the hidden components’ body data loaded. This works well when the assembly contains optimized display states.
Access to file references is available for all document types. This allows the user to control which files are loaded as:
Opening Documents from a Recent Used Folder
As new documents are opened, SOLIDWORKS collects their locations in the Recent Folders. These folders can also be pinned as needed.
Once a folder is selected, SOLIDWORKS starts the File Open command in the selected folder.
Most of the files you are opening when using SOLIDWORKS have already been opened in the recent past. Mastering the use of the Recent Documents list can make the difference between spending minutes browsing for them or locating and opening them in a couple of clicks.
Learn more about SOLIDWORKS with the ebook SOLIDWORKS 2022 Enhancements to Streamline and Accelerate Your Entire Product Development Process.
About the Author
As an Elite AE and Senior Training and Process Consultant, working for TriMech Solutions, Alin Vargatu is a Problem Hunter and Solver.
He has presented 33 times at 3DEXPERIENCE World and SOLIDWORKS World, twice at SLUGME and tens of times at SWUG meetings in Canada and the United States. His blog and YouTube channel are well known in the SOLIDWORKS Community.
In recognition of his activity in the SOLIDWORKS Community, at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021, the SWUGN (SOLIDWORKS User Group Network) awarded the SOLIDWORKS AE of the Year title to Alin Vargatu.