SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs provide a heads-up display for a Selection

Article by Rod Mackay updated September 21, 2015


SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs are a context-based view of the current selection in the SOLIDWORKS graphics area designed to show related elements up and down the hierarchical tree; from the selected entity through to the top level assembly or part. Check out the video below to see SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs in action:

In addition, breadcrumbs provide access to common selections that are adjacent to the selection, such as the underlying sketch of a feature, or the mates of a component.

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Breadcrumbs

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Selection Breadcrumbs

SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs are enabled by default and appear in the upper left corner of the graphics area when you select:

  • An entity in the graphics area
  • A node in the FeatureManager design tree

TIP:  You can also display Breadcrumbs wherever your mouse pointer is in the graphics area by pressing the ‘D’ key – continue pressing the ‘D’ key to toggle between the top-left corner of the graphics area and your mouse pointer position.

Breadcrumbs are a very common form of navigation for websites and other user interfaces so you’ll already be familiar with how they work.

SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs in a Part

For example in a part when you select a face you are presented with breadcrumbs for the related sketch and features associated with the face right back to the top level; as shown in the figure below you can see the breadcrumbs for the selection are: Part > Solid Body > Cut-Extrude3 > Face, and the adjacent ‘Sketch7’ is listed underneath

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Selection Breadcrumbs

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Part Breadcrumbs

SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs in an Assembly

In an assembly, when you select a face, edge, or a component, all of the mates for that the component belongs to are displayed above the component/part breadcrumb listing with the related sketch for the face selection displayed below.

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Assembly Breadcrumbs

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Assembly Breadcrumbs

SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumb Benefit

Breadcrumbs provide convenient access to the tools you would normally access from the FeatureManager design tree but saves you having to locate parts or sub-assemblies and dig into their hierarchy. For instance prior to SOLIDWORKS 2016, to view the mates of a component you either had to right-click the component or find the component in the FeatureManager design tree and then open the mates folder, now you can just select a component in the graphics area and the related mates are presented to you.

Note that Breadcrumbs do not appear when:

  • A PropertyManager is displayed.
  • When you select an annotation or dimension in the graphics area.
  • Or if you multi-select entities.


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Rod Mackay

Rod has been using 3D CAD software for over 25 years and has trained thousands of designers to use their CAD systems more effectively. Rod is the Javelin Webmaster and is based in Ottawa, ON., Canada.