How to Change Units in SOLIDWORKS

Article by Rod Mackay updated August 25, 2020

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SOLIDWORKS Change Units is a common term that is searched for on our blog, so here is a quick tech tip on three different methods of changing your units in a SOLIDWORKS Part Document:

Using the Unit Quick Select

If you currently have a Part file open and want to quickly change system units then you can easily pick the Quick Select Unit option in the bottom right-hand corner of the status bar:

SOLIDWORKS Change Units

SOLIDWORKS Change Units

Select the units you want to be applied to the document, Metric MKS/CGS/MMGS or English IPS.

If you want to access the full unit settings in document properties then select Edit Document Units… and the dialog box will be displayed:

SOLIDWORKS Document Units

SOLIDWORKS Document Units

Setting default units in a Part Template

If you would like to have the selected units applied to new documents that you create then you simply create a part template with the required units already set:

  1. Start a New Part using the default Part Template
  2. Set the required units using the method above
  3. Save the part document as a template:
    1. Select File > Save As
    2. Choose Part Templates (*.prtdot) as the save as type
    3. When the file type is chosen SOLIDWORKS will select your default template location (C:\ProgramData\SOLIDWORKS\templates) but you can chose another location if you like
    4. Enter a file name such as IPS Part
    5. Select Save
Save As SOLIDWORKS Part Template

Save As SOLIDWORKS Part Template

NOTE: You could overwrite the default Part.PRTDOT template if you are going to be using those units all the time in your template

Using the Part Template

To use your newly created part template you just need to pick it from the New SOLIDWORKS document dialog:

  1. Select File > New
  2. Select the Advanced button in the bottom left-hand corner of the template to access a full list of templates
  3. Select your new template and pick OK
Select Part Template

Select Part Template

NOTE: If you don’t see your part template listed because you saved it to a different file location than the default then just add the file location to SOLIDWORKS options so it can be found: Tools > Options > File Locations, select Add and pick the file location where you saved the template.

SOLIDWORKS Change Units on the fly

Within the SOLIDWORKS interface you can easily enter values that are different to the current document units when entering dimensions or adding values in a Property Manager. For instance If you wanted to enter a dimension in millimeters when your units are currently set to inches then SOLIDWORKS will allow you to do that without having to change the document units.

For example if I am editing a sketch and I want to apply a size of 200mm instead of 7.87in I would just type 200 in the dimension box and then select the units option below it to pick the required units:

Unit dimension selection

Unit dimension selection

Alternatively I can just enter 200mm and hit return and the dimension will be applied without me having to pick the units from the menu.

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These essential SOLIDWORKS tips and tricks are covered in our SOLIDWORKS Essentials course which you can take live online. Check our schedule for upcoming online classes »

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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.