The SOLIDWORKS Shortcut Bar Part II: Old Habits Die Hard

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated September 5, 2016


Recently I wrote an article about how to use the Shortcut Bar in SOLIDWORKS to reduce the distance your mouse has to travel. Basically, you can press the <S key> at any time in SOLIDWORKS and get a context-specific menu appear right beside your mouse cursor with whatever commands you’ve defined.

SOLIDWORKS shortcut bar

Part Shortcut Bar

Why is the shortcut bar not being used?

Despite the fact that the shortcut bar feature is neither new nor difficult to use, its adoption by users has been rather sparse. Was it old habits? Was it easily forgotten? I considered 3 possible reasons:

  1. Users didn’t know about it (you can no longer use that excuse)
  2. It didn’t have the command they wanted (it can be customized)
  3. They are well-established in their current workflow

I’m going to address that 3rd one right now. For years, I touted the merits of the S-key and vowed to make better use of it, then promptly forgot and reverted to my regular workflow. For me, the regular workflow was to use the Command Manager. I kept telling me that it was good exercise or that keeping my hand still too much would cause injury, but the truth is that it was because old habits die hard. I was used to thinking “I’ll draw a line from here to here” and my hand would instinctively go through the motions automatically while I was thinking that. This continued until I decided I was going to do something to disrupt that autopilot that my hand would go into.

Using the F10 key instead!

Yes, I pressed the F10 key. In SOLIDWORKS, this key (by default) will hide your toolbars, including the Command Manager. Now, with my Command Manager hidden, my regular workflow was disrupted. When I thought to myself “I’ll draw a line from–” I’d be interrupted and my hand would need conscious instructions from my brain as to where to click. I couldn’t click in the regular spot.

Before long, I had become accustomed to the S-key and I found myself using it automatically, rather than defaulting to the Command Manager. Sure, I still needed the CommandManager for commands I didn’t use on a regular basis, but now I was used to using the Shortcut Bar for all my frequent commands.

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).