The Second Ten Best of SOLIDWORKS 2021, Plus One

Welcome to the second half of 2021. It seems as though 2020 is a distant memory, while 2022 is right around the corner. You might be asking yourself, “What’s next?”

You won’t find the answer to that big question in this article. What you will find, however, are a list of things you should be doing with SOLIDWORKS in 2021 to set yourself up for success.

This article is the second part of our series outlining the 21 things you should be doing in 2021. These are the best tips for success with SOLIDWORKS in 2021 and beyond. You can refresh your memory on the first part of this list by reading The First Ten Best of SOLIDWORKS 2021.

1. Prepare for the New Version – SOLIDWORKS 2022 is Coming!

SOLIDWORKS recently announced the beta version of the latest release, SOLIDWORKS 2022, due to be released this fall. As sure as the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, SOLIDWORKS follows this release cycle every year. Feel free to mark your calendar with a pair of recurring events: Summer for the beta version, and Fall for the newest version release.

Why does this matter?

This is important because now is the time to decide your upgrade path. It is no longer a matter of “When should I upgrade?” Instead, more and more users are asking themselves, “Should I upgrade at all?” Now is the time to learn about new features and try them for yourself. SOLIDWORKS invests heavily on performance improvements, making each subsequent version faster and snappier than the last—but is that enough? The only way to decide is to check out the latest features.

2. Use the Platform – Join the SOLIDWORKS 2022 Beta Community

If you are not already using the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform, then you’re already missing out. In recent years, the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform has gone from an abstract concept to the mainstream. 3DEXPERIENCE is no longer just a phrase you hear once a year at the annual user conference formerly known as SOLIDWORKS World. It is now something that is being used by countless companies worldwide to improve collaboration and design.

The key point is that to make the most of number 1 above, you need to be on the platform. Make sure to take advantage of the social aspects of the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and connect with the SOLIDWORKS Beta 2022 Community. By joining the SOLIDWORK 2022 Beta Community, you will have a one-stop-shop for news, updates and information about the Beta program. The best part is all of the content and information available to you. If you want to get insight from SOLIDWORKS R&D, then this one can’t be missed. Here’s the link to get started.

3. Instantly Improve Performance – Lightweight and Detailing Mode

With all this talk about the future of SOLIDWORKS, it is easy to get distracted from the fact that there are things you can do today, with your current version of SOLIDWORKS, to dramatically improve performance. It’s simple: use lightweight mode for assemblies or detailing mode for drawings. Get started with this article that focuses on these topics.

Of all the enhancements over recent years, performance improvements have been the key stand-outs. Lightweight and detailing modes are just the physical manifestation of this. Turning on lightweight mode for your assemblies or detailing mode for your drawings will result in instant performance gains.

4. Free Licenses – Make Use of the Tools You Already Have

If you are reading this article, you are a SOLIDWORKS user. If you are a SOLIDWORKS user, you have access to free tools. You should be taking advantage of these tools, which are included with your SOLIDWORKS license for data management, manufacturing and photo rendering.

  • Data Management: SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard is included with every license of SOLIDWORKS Professional or Premium.
  • Manufacturing: SOLIDWORKS CAM Standard is included with every license of SOLIDWORKS Standard, Professional, or Premium on active subscription.
  • Photo Rendering: SOLIDWORKS Visualize Standard is included with every license of SOLIDWORKS Professional or Premium on an activated subscription.

You want to make sure you get all that you pay for. Many SOLIDWORKS users never know to ask the question, “What am I entitled to with my license?” Connect with your reseller to make sure you get up and running with these free tools to help you be more productive.

5. 3D Interconnect – Stop Importing and Start 3D Interconnecting

It’s 2021; time to stop importing files and start 3D Interconnecting. All it takes is a slight change in your workflow. Instead of importing a non–SOLIDWORKS file, simply open it. 3D Interconnect is technology that enables you to open a nonnative SOLIDWORKS file and get to work right away. Check out our article all about how to use 3D Interconnect.  

6. Treehouse – The Best Assembly Tool You Never Knew

One common thread woven throughout the fabric of this article is the notion of changing your workflows with the Platform, performance gains with lightweight mode, stopping importing models, and now introducing SOLIDWORKS Treehouse for understanding your assemblies’ structure.

SOLIDWORKS Treehouse was introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2015 as a standalone application that graphically shows the structure of your assemblies. You can take it a step further and use it to graphically build a skeleton structure of your assemblies, including all subassemblies and even some custom properties. This a great way to get some insight into your assemblies, both big and small, outside of SOLIDWORKS. It is quick, lightweight, and powerful – a must-use tool for anyone looking to succeed with SOLIDWORKS in 2021. It’s also on our list of Top SOLIDWORKS Tools for Engineering Managers.

7. Searching – My Favorite Tip

After reading this article, you will never waste another second digging through the menus to find a command or options or have to rely on memorization. Well, except for memorizing this one thing: to find any command or option in SOLIDWORKS, just remember to go to the search bar. It shows up in two places as the Command Search and the Options Search.

The Command Search is my favorite SOLIDWORKS tip. Simply start typing the letters of the command and you can immediately launch it. Don’t waste another second digging through a menu for a command; go to Command Search to get instant access to every single SOLIDWORKS command.

Pro Tip: The Command Search can also be used to customize the CommandManager on the fly. Just drag and drop a Command’s icon from the search results to add it the CommandManager.

The Options Search is not literally a life saver, but sometimes it feels like one. Use this feature to save you from digging through the system options or document properties to find what you’re looking for. Just start typing the setting or document property and the list will populate as you type. To immediately jump to the setting, just use the arrow keys to scroll through the list or simply click on it.

8. Graphics Modeling – The Easiest Way to Save Time

The tip here is to minimize your mouse mileage. Focus your attention on the graphics area and don’t let your mouse stray too far from your geometry. This is the one way every SOLIDWORKS user can save a ton of time when modeling.

Here are a few tips you can use to help you minimize your mouse movement and speed up the design.

Mouse Gestures

Use these swipe gestures to instantly access commands. These are great because it only takes one hand to do them.


With one hand on your mouse, keep your other hand firmly planted on top of the S-key on your keyboard to get instant access to a customizable menu of commands. Use one hand to model and the other to launch the shortcut bar. This left-hand/right-hand dance is familiar to all power users.


This is the shortcut to bring breadcrumbs directly next to your mouse. Breadcrumbs offer a context sensitive trail or model history. In other words, whatever you might need to access to edit your geometry, such as features, sketches and planes, just to name a few. It is literally everything you might need from the Feature Tree simplified and immediately at your fingertips. With breadcrumbs, the Feature Tree is all but obsolete. It is no surprise that when SOLIDWORKS introduced this in 2018 they picked the letter right next to the S, a nod to the power user method mentioned above.

9. Task Scheduler – Don’t Change the Game, Automate It

Instead of changing workflows, how about automating them? The SOLIDWORKS Task Scheduler is a power tool for time savings. This is a standalone application (separate from SOLIDWORKS) that can run various tasks at any time you want. The capabilities of Task Scheduler vary depending on the license type you have, but included with any version of SOLIDWORKS is the ability to convert a document to the latest version.

Pro Tip: Converting a document to the latest version using Task Scheduler is a huge time saver after an upgrade.

Included with SOLIDWORKS Professional and Premium licenses are even more capabilities for the Task Scheduler. Some of our favorites include:

  • Export Files – Creates DXF, DWG, IGES or STEP files from SOLIDWORKS files.
  • Import Files – Imports STEP or IGES files and saves them as SOLIDWORKS files.
  • Print Files – Prints your files based on specified print settings.
  • Create Drawings – Create drawings for your SOLIDWORKS parts and assemblies based on specified drawing templates.
  • Create eDrawing – Creates eDrawings from your files using specified export options.
  • Run Custom Macro or Task – Runs any application with macros or even from the command line.

If you’re looking to really take your work to the next level in 2021, check out the SOLIDWORKS Task Scheduler for automation. With just a few seconds of set up you can free yourself from countless hours of tedious work so you can spend more time designing.

10. Compare – Automate Difficult Tasks

The Task Scheduler is great for tedious tasks. The Compare Utility is perfect for finding subtle differences in two documents or two configurations of the same document, including in:

  • Document properties
  • Features
  • Geometry
  • Bills of material

You can run Compare on multiple items simultaneously. It works to find both the largest, most obvious changes as well as the smallest, slightest changes.

11. User Groups and 3DEXPERIENCE World

This article is meant to plant some seeds for ways you can be successful using SOLIDWORKS in 2021. This also means it is time to start thinking about 2022. Now is the time to start making arrangements to be there in person for the biggest SOLIDWORKS user conference, which will be held in Atlanta starting February 6th, 2022. This is the place to be if you want to learn, network and grow. If you are serious about SOLIDWORKS, then you need to be there. Even though it is happening in 2022, start planning now.

In the meantime, you should look to your local user group for events. Many of them are already hosting live in-person events. Check out the link here to find your next local event.

As we round the corner of 2021, with 2022 in our sights, keep these things in mind to make the most out of SOLIDWORKS in 2021.  If you want to be successful with SOLIDWORKS, look for ways to automate your tasks, change your workflows and plan for the future with SOLIDWORKS 2022 and 3DEXPERIENCE World 2022.

Read the first part of our list of the 21 things you should be doing in SOLIDWORKS in 2021: The First Ten Best of SOLIDWORKS 2021.

To learn more, check out the ebook on SOLIDWORKS 2021 Enhancements.

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