Are Bulk Selections costing you valuable time?….. Try Power Select!

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE updated June 20, 2011



Have you every had to fight your way through a model performing several CTRL+Select operations as you are attempting to apply an appearance to a few faces or a specific type of face in your model.

It is a question we run into every so often on the support lines here at Javelin and the caller often states “There must be a better way to make these selections that having to select each and every individual face.” As it turns out we do have a tool that can help us make these selections quickly, along with a degree of refinement not available elsewhere in SolidWorks.

Enter at Stage Right, Power Select!  As it turns out it’s been with us the entire time (At least since SolidWorks 2004). With every other release of SolidWorks it seems Power Select gets an upgrade to its growing list of capabilities.

Total integration of the Power Select tool was introduced in SolidWorks 2010 as all of the SolidWorks utilities were migrated into the main interface to achieve consistency with all of the other tools available in SolidWorks. Let’s take a look at a quick example of what this tool can do for us:

A Rhombic Triacontahedron - "Thirty Sided Die"

Our sample model is a Rhombic Triacontahedron essentially a “thirty-sided die” with the material of the part set as Ti-8Mn annealed Sheet (SS) (With Realview Graphics Enabled – Of Course).


If we needed to select all of the planar faces on our model, in order to change their appearance to differ from the rest of the model, we might approach similarly to the steps below:





Choose "Power Select from the Flyout Menu

Step A) Choose the Power Select tool from the Selection flyout located in the Standard Toolbar at the top of the SolidWorks interface.  Power Select may also be found under Tools > Power Select.







Power Select Filters

Step B)
When the Power Select dialog has opened, choose the options indicated:

In the “Select What” area choose “Faces”,
Followed by Surface type & Plane for the Filter and the parameter respectively.
Once the appropriate filters are checked choose “Search”.













Power Select Results

Step C) The results of the search will display in the results area of the dialog, (thirty planar faces in this example) choose “Close” to close the dialog and maintain your selections.








Select "Faces" from the Right-Click Context Menu

Step D) With all thirty faces still selected, right-click on one of the selected faces.

From the context menu choose the appearances flyout (the beachball-looking icon) and then choose the “Face” selection from the list of possible entities.









Polished Blue Marble Appearance Added to the Thirty Faces

Step E) Once the Appearances Pane appears to the right side of the interface, choose and apply your material to the selected faces. I have chosen “blue marble polished” as my appearance for the selected faces.
(Nothing quite like a thirty sided titanium die, with a polished blue marble inlay….)

Quick Tip in a Tip: You can use the Surface mapping option on the advanced tab of the materials property Manager to ensure that the appearance displays without distortion on all faces of the 30 sided Die.






Reselect using "Color From Graphics" option

Step F) It would be helpful if we had a method to quickly re-select all of the previous faces – Power Select tool is again to the rescue.  With the power select tool running, again choose “Faces” as the object type to select.


Under filters and parameters choose “Face Color” – this will enable the Pick color from Graphics check-box (in the case you have forgotten exactly what variety of very expensive marble you had previously applied).


Once the “Pick Color from Graphics” check-box is selected, you can reach out into the graphics area and select one of the previously colored faces.  Once the face has been selected, choose the search button to search for all faces of the same color.



There you have it…….. Power Select makes for an easy choice to expedite your selection workflow.


Bonus Quick Tip in a Tip!

SolidWorks 2011 has a really handy new way to re-select those thirty faces on which we had originally modified the appearance.  At the top of the feature manager notice that a new tab has appeared in the 2011 release. The Appearances “Beach-ball” icon now has its own tab.

This new tab is the DisplayManager, and if you have been following along with us you should see a listing for “Blue Marble Polished” as an item in the DisplayManager. If you expand the “Blue Marble Polished” entry in the DisplayManager, it will expand and reveal all thirty faces that we had originally chosen via the Power Select Tool.  Now you can simply select the “Blue Marble Polished” entry in the DisplayManager, and all of those faces will be re-selected.


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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.