SolidWorks 2012: Command Search


This new feature could POSSIBLY be the best new enhancement that comes packaged in SolidWorks 2012.  Have you ever had that moment when you were designing the next best thing since sliced bread and knew that command that you needed but couldn’t find it?  I have, well everything except for the next best thing since sliced bread.

Starting with SolidWorks 2012, the nightmares about this situation should cease because of the new Command Search tool.  So where the heck is it and how does it work?  Unfortunately, there is no search tool to find the Command Search tool but it is actually quite easy to get to.

Where – In the upper right hand corner of your SolidWorks window is the search bar that previously housed the SolidWorks Help, Knowledge Base, Community Forum, and Files and Models search options.  Now there is also a Commands search option that you can select (see image below).

Command Search in Search Bar

How – Simply select the Commands search option and then start typing the name of the command you are looking for.

Command Search Functionality

One of the really cool features of this I think is that no matter what the search bar has selected, as soon as you launch your Shortcut Bar, the search bar will automatically switch to the Commands option.

Also, what about when you want to customize a toolbar and you can’t seem to find the tool you need?  The Command search still is functional even when you have the Customize window active.  As you can see in the image below, all of the commands will be grayed out BUT you can still drag and drop them onto a toolbar as you normally would from the Customize window.

Use Command Search to Customize Shortcut Bar

This is an AWESOME new tool.  The one future enhancement I would really like to see however is a way to get this option closer to the Shortcut Bar when you activate it.  This would require a lot let mouse movement in order to use it.  But, baby steps for now and these are great steps.

Awesome job SolidWorks development team!

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5 thoughts on “SolidWorks 2012: Command Search

  1. Hi, Jason. All of us here in the SolidWorks User Experience Design team are really glad to see the positive reviews of Command Search. One thing to note, though…

    You write, “The one future enhancement I would really like to see however is a way to get this option closer to the Shortcut Bar when you activate it. This would require a lot let mouse movement in order to use it.”

    But check it out — there’s no need for ANY mouse movement. Activate the Shortcut Bar as normal, and then just start typing away. Your typing input should be going to the Command Search field automagically.

    Another thing you can do is set your own keyboard shortcut to activate Command Search. You can do this from the Tools > Customize dialog, on the Keyboard tab. Look for Search Commands in the Search category.

    • Hey Tom,

      Thanks for the response! I did notice the functionality you mentioned. However, I feel that some users might type in the 1st few letters and then click it with the tool with their mouse.

      Otherwise they can arrow key down and hit enter. I just feel that it might be better if there was a way to get the Search Bar to pop up by your shortcut bar if you would want it set that way.

      Please don’t get me wrong. I think this is an AWESOME enhancement. Just maybe a possible enhancement for a future release (if it is even possible).

      Thanks again!

  2. Hi Guys,
    To reduce mouse movement… you can also use this workflow:
    1. Hit the “S” key which brings up your shortcut bar (notice, as Jason mentions, that the keyboard focus is the command search input window).
    2. Begin typing the command you want to execute. For example, type “Extru”.
    3. Hit the return key to execute the command or you can use the down-arrow to move down the list and then hit enter.

    Very fast and efficient with zero mouse movement.

    One other cool feature is the ability to assign your own acronym for any command in the system. Use Tools-Customize-Keyboard and fill in any single or multi-letter acronym you’d like in the “Search Shortcut” column. For example, for the “Sheet Metal-Edge Flange” command, you could use the “EF” characters. Now if you hit “S” and then “EF” followed by return, it will run that command because any command with an assigned shortcut will be listed first in the search results when you type the associated acronym! This is essentially a way to create multi-letter shortcuts for keyboard driven command execution.

    Enjoy,
    John Sweeney
    SolidWorks Corporation

    • Hello,
      Is there a way to create multi-letter shortcuts without having to hit “s” first and “return” at the end?
      Using your example, is there a way to just type “EF” and the command to be executed?
      Thank you,
      Bruno

      • Hi Bruno,
        The new “Command Search” in SW2012 would require the return key be hit or a mouse click on the search result list. To avoid the “S” key and the return key, you would need to use the standard keyboard shortcuts (see Tools-Customize-Keyboard). Unfortunately, we only support two-key shortcuts where one of the keys is Ctrl, Alt or Shift.
        However, you can add single key keyboard shortcuts, such as, “E” for extrude. This will limit you a bit since you only have 26 letter keys plus a handful of other keys such as F1-F12, etc., but you can still get a good number of single-key shortcuts.
        For multi-key “shortcuts” you’d need to assign them to the “Search Shortcut” column of the Tools-Customize-Keyboard and then access them thru the “Command Search” input box by clicking it, or as mentioned above, by hitting the “S” key which puts keyboard focus into the field.
        Best Regards,
        John

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