The First Ten Best of SOLIDWORKS 2021
After adapting to the new normal in 2020, we should be on the way the next normal of 2021. If SOLIDWORKS is a big part of your life, one way you can make your life better for the rest of 2021 is by reading how to improve your use of SOLIDWORKS. We have compiled the definitive list of top 21 ways to do that – and the first ten of them are listed below.
No matter your experience level – expert or beginner – there’s something on this list you aren’t doing or didn’t know about.
0. Get a SOLIDWORKS ID
A SOLIDWORKS ID is your online account for SOLIDWORKS. Think of it as your key to unlocking all the material and content on the web. If you want to take advantage of all the tools out there beyond your desktop install of SOLIDWORKS, you’ll need to create a SOLIDWORKS ID. You’ll need to use a SOLIDWORKS ID in many, many places on this list. It’s incredibly important.
Some of the highlights include training (more on that in number 2), the SOLIDWORKS Forums, and your customer portal which holds all of your subscription content including licensing (number 10), bug fixes and software downloads, and even your SOLIDWORKS Settings (number 7).
1. MySOLIDWORKS Training
With your SOLIDWORKS ID, you get hours of online training content through MySOLIDWORKS for free. This should be your first step in your education journey. Think of the MySOLIDWORKS Training as enhanced tutorials. Get started by creating a SOLIDWORKS ID (see number 0, above) and log in to the MySOLIDWORKS website. Depending on your access type, you’ll have access to more training content.
What are you waiting for? Give it a try. You’ll be surprised by how much content is available for you to get started learning.
2. SOLIDWORKS YouTube Live Streams
YouTube as a resource does not surprise anyone. It’s where we go to learn Spanish, skydiving and, of course, SOLIDWORKS. Certainly, the SOLIDWORKS Resellers all have great channels, but one of the best resources to keep an eye on is the Official SOLIDWORKS YouTube Channel. The live streaming sessions are the reason this resource is on the list. Since 2020, what I call the “new SOLIDWORKS Content team” have consistently been hosting live events that have shared some of the best content by the best in the business. But the best part is the live engagement. I recommend you attend these events and bring questions.
Pro Tip: Your questions can be unrelated to the content. It’s not against the rules to ask a question about an issue or topic that’s important to you but that doesn’t exactly fit with the theme of the session. Think of it as your chance to speak directly to SOLIDWORKS employees.
3. 3DEXPERIENCE World – The Best Training Content You Don’t Know About
If truly mastering any (or all) of the SOLIDWORKS tools is your goal for 2021, then this is for you. The library of recorded lectures and classes from the conference is the best kept secret for SOLIDWORKS training. SOLIDWORKS World was renamed 3DEXPERIENCE world in 2020. It’s a new name and logo, but the same great content. This is still the best resource out there to get thousands of hours of SOLIDWORKS content.
Just go to the 3DEXPERIENCE World website to create an account, and unlock thousands of hours of top quality training content. You’ll be able to watch the recorded lectures and even download the presentations, including the files used.
4. 3DEXPERIENCE Platform & The SOLIDWORKS Forum
Unless you’ve been metaphorically living under a rock, you’ve heard of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform (a.k.a. the Platform). I’m here to share with you one important reason why you should be signed up for and using the 3DXPERIENCE platform: the official SOLIDWORKS Forum has been moved to this platform.
If you want to take advantage of all of the SOLIDWORKS tools out there, you should definitely be signed up. If you already did tip number 2 and signed up for a SOLIDWORKS ID, then you already have access. Simply update your bookmark to point to the new forum here.
5. Get Certified
You’ve already done the learning and practicing, now it’s time to prove what you know by getting certified and joining nearly half a million certified SOLIDWORKS users.
Everyone knows about the SOLIDWORKS Certification program – it’s the gold standard for CAD certifications. But not everyone knows that you can get certified for free! It’s included as part of your subscription. Currently you are able to get three codes every six months on the calendar year – from January through June and then again from July through December. In each of these six-month periods, you can take one core exam, one specialty exam and one advanced exam.
Pro tip – the vouchers aren’t tied to a specific user; you can redeem a code and share it with someone else. All steps for requesting and redeeming codes can be found in the PDF document here.
6. Synchronize Your Settings
Saving your settings has been around forever—too long for most users to remember. But there’s a new option to synchronize your settings. Now you can automatically link your settings to your SOLIDWORKS ID. This option ensures your settings will always been up to date and available for you to use anywhere you’re using SOLIDWORKS.
To get started, use your SOLIDWORKS ID to login to the installation of SOLIDWORKS.
Next, go to your system options to set your preferences for Synchronize settings. This can be set to automatic so your settings are always up to date, or you can use the option to save and restore your settings on demand.
7. Customize the Interface
If you want to save time when using SOLIDWORKS, then you need to take full advantage of customizing SOLIDWORKS. Take advantage of Hotkeys, Mouse Gestures, the Shortcut Bar and the Command Manager. This is your chance to take control of the software and make it work how you want it to. Once you customize the interface, then make sure to use tip number 8 to easily save these settings. If you’re looking for ways to customize SOLIDWORKS check out the article The Top Five Ways of Customizing SOLIDWORKS for some inspiration.
8. Update Your Software for Maximum Performance
This is not on the list because of all the new features that get added to the software every year; rather, it’s on the list because of performance. Performance has become the most compelling enhancement for upgrading your software. We’ve learned that with every release there are significant improvements to software architecture that amount to huge performance gains. Shockingly, for 2021, more than 50 percent of the enhancements to the software aren’t features or functions—rather, they are improvements to performance.
9. Evaluate Your Licensing & Consider Online Licensing
There have been a lot of changes to licensing and tools now with SOLIDWORKS that it’s worth re-evaluating your licensing to see what works best for you and your company. In my opinion, the biggest change comes to stand-alone licensing which can now be converted to an online license. This switches the license from machine-based to login-based. Gone are the days of deactivating (err…forgetting to deactivate) and reactivate your license.
You can now log into SOLIDWORKS on any computer and use your stand-alone license. To get started, use your SOLIDWORKS ID to login to the admin portal and from here you can convert your license to be login based (online licensing). This is one example of the many things that have been changed or added to the SOLIDWORKS tools available to you as a user.
Keeping up with all the enhancements and additions to the SOLIDWORKS toolset sometimes seems like a full-time job even for the most connected and in the loop user. In fact, most of the things listed in this article were outside of the software itself. That’s why lists like this exist—to convey all the high points and share with you all the information you might need to be the best SOLIDWORKS user in 2021.
For now we’ll stop here at the first 10 things you should be doing in 2021. Part two of our list is available in the article The Second Ten Best of SOLIDWORKS 2021, Plus One, where we round out our list of the 21 things you should be doing this year in the next normal.
To learn more, check out the ebook on SOLIDWORKS 2021 Enhancements.