SOLIDWORKS Breadcrumbs

When you select an object or part or surface in the SOLIDWORKS graphics area in 2016, a new feature appears in the upper left hand corner of the area. It is “Breadcrumbs” and allows you to navigate to various context specific positions within the thread of processes that created the element selected.

For example, if you select or point your cursor, to the Breadcrumb Sketch above you will see the sketch appear on the part you have selected and can click there to access the sketch for editing.

Another example, you can select one of the “mates” displayed in the Breadcrumbs, say the Coincident mate, and see reflected in the model, the elements of the mate and, of course, access the mate for editing by selecting that Breadcrumb.

Library Load Error

Load Library Error correction

From the knowledge base:


This error relates to a faulty driver for the AMD and ATI graphics cards. To resolve this issue, follow these steps:

1.     Open a Windows® Explorer window and locate the file ‘atig6pxx.dll’. The default location of the file ‘C:\Windows\System32.’
2.     Right-click on the file >  ‘Rename’ > add the “.bak” file extension at the end of the file name. The new file name becomes ‘atig6pxx.dll.bak’.
3.     Close Windows Explorer and run the SOLIDWORKS® software.

If the problem persists, create a SOLIDWORKS Rx file and submit the issue to your local reseller for further technical support.\

Toolbar Reset

SOLIDWORKS – Resetting Toolbar when it has been changed.
In SOLIDWORKS, the toolbars are associated with the PART, ASSEMBLY OR DRAWING files and I have found that the best way to insure that they are “able to be reset to some default that you create” is by setting the toolbars as you would like them to be through “customize” under the “tools” dropdown menu,


and then to SAVE A TEMPLATE with a name reflecting the use of that template.



For example, I set up a template that has settings for my toolbars to be all off except for the COMMAND MANAGER with LARGE BUTTONS WITH TEXT checked,


and then use it exclusively. I also set things like the UNITS and DRAFTING STANDARD from the OPTIONS/DOCUMENT PROPERTIES to reflect my choice.


This way when I open that template my toolbars, drafting standard, and units are set and I know this by the title I give the template. This process is done by opening a blank file, let’s say a part, setting this up as you desire, then doing a “save as” and changing the “save as type” to the appropriate template type.


You also need to consider where that template is to be saved and where it is accessed from. Access is set in the OPTIONS/SYSTEM OPTIONS/FILE LOCATIONS, under “Document Templates” file location.


You can save up to 5 locations which become tabs in the “open new” file selection process on the advanced tab.


There also is a new feature in 2016 that allow you to lock the toolbars once you have them set up.


Resetting the toolbars to factory default is done by clicking the RESET TO DEFAULTS button at the bottom of the page displayed above.

One item that is not so easy is to “re-find” a lost Command Manager. The Command Manager, as all toolbars, can be “un-docked” and therefore slid to a point that is virtually out of sight. When the Command Manager is visible, but out of dock position, you “grab” it by the top blue area and then move the cursor, dragging it to one of the three docking points, top center, right center or left center and release, to re-dock it.


If it is “lost” you need to find it somewhere on the screen to relocate it. (sometimes not easy)

Copying Multiple Components in an Assembly

Copying Multiple Components
You can copy several components at a time and retain the mates between them.
In the assembly in this example, the screw and two washers are mated together, but are
three separate components (not a subassembly). You want to create another instance of
each of them and retain the mates between them.


To copy multiple components:
1. In the FeatureManager design tree, Ctrl + select or Shift + select the components
to copy.

2. Ctrl + drag the selected components and drop them in the graphics area.
New instances of the components are created. Mates that exist between the selected
components are retained between the new instances.


You can then mate  the washer to the flange in the new location.

New look to 2016 Icons

New look to 2016 Icons

You will notice a change in SOLIDWORKS 2016 in it’s interface. The icons have been simplified.

Here’s a comparison look between 2015 and 2016 versions of some samples:

2015 Command Manager – sketching


2016 Command Manager – sketching


2015 Heads up view tools


2016 Heads up view tools


2015 Feature Manager


2016 Feature Manager


Creating Planes Normal to View Orientation

Creating Planes Normal to View Orientation
You can create a reference plane parallel to the screen by setting an offset from a reference
1. Open your part and orient it so the screen view represents the plane you want to create.

parallel plane 3
2. Click Plane (Reference Geometry toolbar) or Insert > Reference Geometry >
3. In the graphics area, select a vertex on the model for First Reference .

parallel plane property

4. In the PropertyManager, under First Reference:
            a) Click Parallel to screen

Parallel to screen

  b) Set Distance to 0. (If you want it to be located offset from the vertex insert appropriate value)
5. Click the green check

green check

6. Rotate the model to see the plane created normal to the screen.

parallel plane

7. Rotate the model to see the plane from another angle.

parallel plane 2

Radial Explode


You can explode components aligned radially/cylindrically about an axis in one step.

radial explode





You can also explode radially by diverging along an axis.

radial explode 2






To radially explode components about an axis:

1. In an assembly document, click Exploded View (Assembly toolbar) or Insert >
Exploded View.  

explode icon

2. In the Explode PropertyManager, under Explode Step Type, click Radial step

radial step

3. In Settings, select the components to explode.
4. In the graphics area, drag the handle and release.
5. Click the green check.

green check

Thin Extrude

SolidWorks SHELL creates a wall thickness from a solid model. Using the THIN option on a BOSS/EXTRUDE can produce a similar result that may give you different possibilities. Beginning with a sketch you apply the BOSS/EXTRUDE:Extrude sketchThen by adding the THIN FEATURE option with an appropriate wall thickness you can make the “solid” become “hollow”.

Extrude sketch thin Accepting the choice gives you a solid that appears like a sheet metal part. Adding the “cap ends” check box and it looks solid but it is indeed hollow!

Extrude sketch thin done

Saving SOLIDWORKS settings

As an instructor you can get frustrated at students changing the way SOLIDWORKS looks on computers in your classroom. Creating a standard look and being able to restore that on all your classroom computers can be a valuable tool. If just to have things look the same as your projection throughout your classroom when you are giving a lesson, it’s a valuable tool.

To set this first make changes to your computer to look like you desire it. Set the menu structure that you want displayed. Set your personal hot keys, or any of the “system options” listed here: Copy Settings Wizard 2

Then you go to your Copy Settings Wizard either on the Resource Tab of SOLIDWORKS or through the START tab and menus of Windows and SAVE SETTINGS:

Copy Settings WizardOnce you have saved the settings (make note of where the file is saved or specify a USB drive) you can use that file to RESTORE SETTINGS on any or all your computers so they behave the same as yours.


Hot Keys

Customizing HOT KEYS for SolidWorks is very easy! While in a part file, from the main dropdown menu go to Tools then all the way down near the bottom you will find Customize, choose that. The customize window will appear. Choose the Keyboard TAB at the top and you will find a page looking like this:

Customize tab

You can use the scroll bar on the right to look through the list to see what the current hot keys are. You can search by changing the SHOW input and selecting a different group or using the SEARCH FOR and entering a few letters and it will limit the list by that criteria. Using SEARCH FOR you can isolate a command you would like to insert or change the hot key for like ISOMETRIC VIEW (which I like to go to often and with one finger so I added the letter “I” to the HOT KEY for that choice)

Customize isoJust typing the first 3 letters (iso) reveals a shorter list to find Isometric, then click in the Shortcut(s) column and use the key stroke you would like to add to get there from within SolidWorks. If the key stroke is already being used it will prompt you by telling you what that already does and give you the option to change it to the current Comand.

You can add or change any HOT KEY in this manner! Have fun and Happy New Year!