How to locate hidden or newly-imported annotations in SOLIDWORKS Drawings

Article by John Lee, CSWE updated February 14, 2024


In our earlier article, we demonstrate how to hide and show dimensions: How to Hide SOLIDWORKS Drawing Dimensions and make them reappear (

Building upon that functionality, we now introduce a few new skills to help with managing annotation visibility:

  • How to quickly identify where all the hidden annotations in a busy drawing are
  • How to immediately locate new annotations that were imported from the model

Locating hidden annotations

Below is a busy drawing containing a hidden annotation.  We do not see the annotation yet, because view of hidden annotations is currently toggled off.

drawing with Show/Hide Annotations toggled off

Now we’ll turn on View > Hide/Show > Annotations to expose any hidden annotations.  Can you spot the hidden annotation below?

drawing with Show/Hide Annotations toggled on

Here it is:

the hidden annotation

It can be argued that the hidden annotation’s location was not entirely obvious.  Annotations set to hidden are naturally faint of font.  To make them more noticeable, we’ll explain how to make them draw attention to themselves!  If we could make them blink on and off, then they would be easy to spot!  The challenge is that to repeatedly and rapidly navigate all the way into View > Hide/Show > Annotations, in order to make those hidden annotations blink on and off, while simultaneously searching for any blinking annotations, is next to impossible because we cannot be looking in two places at once.  To overcome that challenge, we want to assign a hotkey to do the blinky-blinky thing.  So that’s Tools > Customize > Keyboard > Search for > enter “annotations” > for View Annotations, enter a keystroke. “B” is available, by default.  Doesn’t need to be Shift+B.  Just regular B will do.

Let’s say we mapped it to B. Now repeatedly press (spam alot) the B key, and you will see all of the hidden annotations flashing.  We’re basically depriving those hidden annotations of their camouflage effects.  Camo only works well when the wearer is not drawing attention to themselves, but here we are forcing them to draw as much attention as possible.

Locating newly-imported annotations

Now let’s say we added some new features in the model and want to import their annotations into the drawing. So we Insert > Model Items. Here is more on that subject: SOLIDWORKS Model Items Tech Tip (

But what if those newly-inserted annotations are not readily apparent? Even after they are inserted, in a busy drawing it might not be obvious where they are, especially if it’s just one more black annotation in a sea of black annotations.  To overcome this issue, we can use layers of different colors! See this article for how to set that up: Using Colour & Layers to make SOLIDWORKS Drawing detail stand out (

We can use layer color to make the newly inserted annotations stick out like a sore thumb. For example, make a layer called Red and assign it the color red. When doing Insert > Model Items you can choose which layer will receive the newly-added dimensions. In this example we would choose Red, and those new arrivals will be assigned to layer Red and should be very easy to spot when they are red on a sea of black, just like in this sentence. Now that we have spotted the new arrivals, we can reassign them to the desired layer.

We recommend to update the drawing template after adding frequently-used layers to the drawing.

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John Lee, CSWE

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWE with fifteen years of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.