SOLIDWORKS 2018 User Interface

SOLIDWORKS 2018 is here!  This is our first post, taking a deep dive into our favorite features of the new release. In this article, we explore the changes to the User Interface.

“SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes new features and enhancements that respond directly to user requests and the needs of 21st century product development. Work more efficiently with an improved user interface that takes advantage of your touch-enabled devices, let SOLIDWORKS automatically generate the optimal shape of your design based on functional and manufacturing criteria, or let SOLIDWORKS automatically generate the NC tool paths needed to machine your parts. These capabilities are just some examples of how SOLIDWORKS is changing the way design and manufacturing is done.” – SOLIDWORKS Blog

User Interface

Mouse Gestures Enhancements

Mouse gestures are bigger, better, and easier to customize for the user interface. You can now set the number of gestures to 2, 3, 4, 8, or 12. Set these within Tools > Customize > Mouse Gestures. Use the drag-and-drop to drag any command from the list in the dialog into the desired position within the menu. Additionally, drag-and-drop within the customize dialog to adjust the position within the menu.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 - Mouse Gesture Dialog

If you haven’t yet tried the gesture menus, I will admit it takes a bit of time to get used to. You might have to force yourself into using it…. but it provides a great benefit to accessing those frequently used tools that it is worth it. Short-term pain for long-term gain!

To access the gesture menu hold the right mouse button and move in the direction of the desired tool. With the tool highlighted release the mouse button. As you get more comfortable with the process you will get so quick that the menu will probably only appear for a split second. The advantage? Instant access to the tools you use most frequently with minimal mouse movement or putting down your coffee cup to key in a keyboard shortcut! This to me is a real winner, especially considering the customization improvements within 2018.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 - Mouse Gestures

Touch-based Interactions

Based on customer suggestions and feedback the Touch-based interactions are much improved. They are easier and more intuitive.

On compatible devices, use a pen, stylus, or your finger to interact with SOLIDWORKS. This leads to “more natural” sketching for consumer product design and includes many UI elements now optimized for touch.

For example, pressing on the screen for two seconds and then dragging your finger engages the Magnified Selection. Pressing on the screen for less than two seconds and moving your finger activates the mouse gesture menu.

I, unfortunately, do not have access to a touch-enabled device that can run SOLIDWORKS. But I SO want to try this. With the lack of access, here is a video from SOLIDWORKS showcasing the new abilities.

Auto-Rotate View on Sketch

A system option regarding rotating the view on sketch creation has been renamed and updated. The view rotation is now consistent, regardless of how you access the sketch. So, with the option enabled, when you create a new sketch or edit an existing sketch, the view rotates to be normal to the sketch. When you exit the sketch the view remains normal to the sketch plane. If you cancel, and not save the changes to the sketch, the view reverts back to its original position.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 - AutoRotate View Options


Logging in with your ID within SOLIDWORKS 2018 provides a wealth of information and resources. This includes access to MySolidWorks, the SOLIDWORKS Forum, the Customer Portal, the User Groups, and to the SOLIDWORKS Support. Your system settings can now also be synchronized across multiple computers you log into.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 - Login Dialog

I’ll be honest, I hated needing to fire up a browser, navigate to the SOLIDWORKS portal, logging in, and then trying to find the right content. Now? 75% of the content I use regularly is available to me, right from within SOLIDWORKS.

Welcome Dialog Box

The new Welcome dialog provides a convenient method to open documents, view folders, access SOLIDWORKS resources, and the option to stay updated on SOLIDWORKS news.

Initially viewable on start, additionally launch the dialog using the Home icon in the Standard toolbar and by selecting Welcome to  SOLIDWORKS in both the Help menu and on the SOLIDWORKS Resources tab.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 - Welcome Dialog

The Welcome dialog contains 4-tabs:

  • Home – a catch-all for everything; create new documents, open existing documents, a list of recent documents and folders, and shortcuts to SOLIDWORKS resources.
  • Recent – view recently used documents and folders you have recently opened documents from
  • Learn – SOLIDWORKS resources including training, tutorials, and sample files
  • Alerts – News and tips about SOLIDWORKS

The Welcome dialog always shows the default templates. Select Advanced to access additional templates or your own templates.

Offloaded Rendering

Offloaded Rendering allows you to send the rendering to any system with the PhtoView 360 New Render Client installed. This frees your system, while the rendering completes on the other.

This supports two types, first sending a single static image to render, second sending a single static image to the Task Scheduler to run the rendering at a later time.

Selecting Over Geometry

To utilize the rectangular or lasso selection previously you needed to start within a blank area of the screen. One of my favorite “small” things added to SOLIDWORKS is now while holding SHIFT you can click-and-drag anywhere to initiate the box or lasso selection…. even on top of other objects!

Additionally, press T on the keyboard to invoke, pick Select over Geometry from the Standard toolbar, or select Select over Geometry from the Tools menu.

Show Document Open Times

A tooltip now displays when hovering over a SOLIDWORKS document within Windows Explorer. This tooltip shows how long it to took to open the document last time. Use this to “effectively manage your time” when considering opening a larger assembly.

Other Enhancements

  • FeatureManager Design Tree Folder Icon Improvements
  • Measure Tool Enhancements
  • Scaling of Entities on High-resolution Monitors
  • Show File Names and Descriptions in Design Library
  • Task Pane Changes
  • Support for the Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud platform
  • Additions to the Application Programming Interface (API)
  • Include or Exclude Suppressed Components in Pack
    and Go
  • Support for 3D Printing Models Containing Surface
    Bodies and Graphics Bodies

Live and in Action


There is so much more

SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes a ton of new features. Make sure to check back at D&M as we continue our deep-dive into the new and improved SOLIDWORKS 2018.




Feature Image: Sunrise on the Boardwalk” by Arturo Donate