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SolidWorksTutorial

How to Configure and Set Options Within SolidWorks

Tutorial Level = Advanced

by Greg Jankowski, SolidWorks Corporation

Within SolidWorks software, there are a number of ways to configure and personalize the system to meet your specific needs and requirements. The terms "personalization" and "customization" refer to different concepts in this article:

  1. Customization is the settings that are shared across many or all users within an organization.
  2. Personalization is the setting that each user changes for their preferences (i.e., custom macros, toolbars, and keyboard shortcuts).

This article will discuss the different methods that can be used to modify these values.

Customization options

These settings are defined within the Tools/Options menu. These settings are divided into two areas - Systems Options and Document Properties. The Document Properties tab stores specific attributes related only to the current document. There can be multiple documents open with different document properties. Systems Options are global in nature. All documents open within SolidWorks will share these attributes (e.g., File Locations, General Settings, Backups).

Templates should be used to define document properties. Templates can be defined for parts, assemblies, and drawings. Additional templates can be created for the different types of documents within each of those categories. For example, you may create sheet metal and castings on a regular basis. Separate part and drawing templates can be defined to address the different types of document properties that are specific to the type of design. Sheetmetal parts may have standard notes and material properties different from those found in the casting documents.

Personalization options

The following is a list of personalization options available for modification:

  1. Toolbar settings (Tools\Customize\Toolbars)
  2. Custom macros (Tools\Customize\Commands)
  3. Customized menus (Tools\Customize\Menus)
  4. Customized keyboard shortcuts (Tools\Customize\Keyboard)
  5. Dimension favorites

Changes made to the toolbars (adding and removing buttons and location), the display state per document type, and the location of dialog boxes are stored within the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2001Plus\User Interface key.

Macros added to the macro toolbar are stored in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2001Plus\User Defined Macros key. Note that this key is not created until a macro is added to the toolbar.

The values for the customized menus and keyboard shortcuts are stored in a file within the SolidWorks Install Directory /user/.cus. This allows for the setting not captured by the Copy Options Wizard to be added to the systems configuration. Place the file in the folder described above with the current user's login name and the settings being used. If more than one user will be on the same machine, additional .cus files need to be created.

When creating keyboard shortcuts, note that each document type has different commands that are not available on different document types. Some functions are more general (e.g., File\Open) and can be used across all document types. The following is a list of some of the keyboard shortcuts available:
BackCTRL 2RebuildCTRL B
BottomCTRL 6RedrawCTRL R

Copy

CTRL CRightCTRL 4
CutCTRL XSaveCTRL S
DeleteDeleteSelect EdgesE
Forced RebuildCTRL QSelect FacesX
FrontCTRL 1Select VerticesV
HelpShift F1Filter Toolbar On/OffF5
ISOCTRL 7Toggle Select FiltersF6
LeftCTRL 3TopCTRL 5
NewCTRL NUndoCTRL Z
OpenCTRL OView OrientationSpacebar
PasteCTRL VZoom InShift Z
Previous ViewCTRL Shift ZZoom OutZ
PrintCTRL PZoom to FitF

Dimension favorites can also be saved and restored on a system. Each dimension favorite is saved separately. These are saved in a file using a .sldfvt file extension and can be stored on a network drive and restored by the user.

SolidWorks and the Windows Registry

WARNING!
The following section discusses the Windows registry and how SolidWorks software makes use of the registry to set default values. Directly editing the registry can cause serious problems and/or disable your system if done incorrectly. There are other methods described within this article that are less dangerous to your system. Always adhere to the best practices listed above or use another means to edit these values.

The Windows registry is a common information store for all Windows applications and the operating system itself. The Windows registry is a powerful tool that needs to be accessed with caution. Please read carefully the warning below as using regedit can cause serious problems if used incorrectly. The following list describes some best practices concerning the Windows registry:

  1. Before making any changes to the registry, create a backup of all important data and the Windows registry itself. The regedit utility has a backup function that can be used to create a backup of just the Windows registry.
  2. Do not replace the registry on the system with a registry file from another version of Windows.
  3. Use another means of editing values whenever possible. Do not edit, nor allow anyone else to edit, the registry without a complete understanding of what is being changed.
  4. Use the task manager to determine amount of RAM required

SolidWorks software stores default settings in two different hives within the Windows registry. These hives are similar but not identical. For each version of SolidWorks, there are entries in two registry hives; HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\ and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\SolidWorks\.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE is loaded when SolidWorks is installed and contains the out-of-the-box settings. It is better to modify only one key (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) instead of modifying and reconciling both keys.

The HKEY_CURRENT_USER is created the first time SolidWorks software runs on the machine. This is where personalization (custom toolbars, macros, and more) and any other changes made to the Tools/Options settings are stored. To return to the default out-of-the-box settings, remove the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\ key and start SolidWorks. The current user key is then re-created from the local machine key. NOTE: Deleting the wrong key can cause serious or terminal system problems.

When changes are made to the Tools/Options setting while a user is operating SolidWorks, SolidWorks handles the editing of the Windows registry.

Changing the Tools/Options settings

There are two methods you can use to share common system options without editing the registry directly using regedit:

  • Create a .reg file with the desired settings
  • Create a macro that sets the values

Creating the .reg file is simpler while the macro works more consistently and is safer. The .reg file can be created using the Copy Options Wizard or by using the Export function inside of regedit.

The Copy Options Wizard exports the values defined within the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2001Plus key. This function does not export the values within the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\ key. This means the Copy Options Wizard does not export custom toolbars, macros, menus, or keyboard shortcuts. The Copy Options Wizard also has the ability to copy new options to other users. The limitations to the Copy Options Wizard can be overcome by copying the /user/.cus file for the customized menus and keyboard shortcuts. The Copy Options Wizard is the safest way to create the registry file because SolidWorks does the work for you.

To create this file using regedit, select the desired registry key and select Export from the File menu. You can double-click on the .reg file and the settings within the registry are changed. It may also be a good practice to remove personalized settings - like toolbars - so a user can load settings and keep his or her personal settings.

Another means to edit these values is to create a macro that can be run from within SolidWorks. This would set only the values that are changed from the out-of-the-box settings and are not personal in nature.

Conclusion

The ability to easily set up and share common settings can make your SolidWorks documents more consistent and insure the system is being used in the same manner.

There are a number of means by which you can define system options within SolidWorks. The registry is a powerful and dangerous utility that needs to be used with caution. Note: This tech tip addresses current releases but each new major release has additional functionality and these options need to be reviewed.

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