Learn tips and tricks for using the software more effectively. Join Visio MVP Scott Helmers as he demonstrates how to use techniques that are a lot more effective than Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V to duplicate shapes. You’ll even learn a fast way to build a two-dimensional grid of shapes.
- [Instructor] Copying and duplicating shapes is a common requirement in Visio. In this video, you'll learn alternatives to the usual copy paste techniques that can save you quite a bit of time. Let's say that I want to position a copy of the blue chevron on the right end of this set of shapes. I can do the usual. Select the shape, control C to copy, control V to paste, and then drag it over, and use the dynamic grid, perhaps, to get it aligned where I want it. But there are more efficient ways to accomplish the same thing.
One simple alternative, select the shape, control D to duplicate, saves a keystroke or two, and then use the dynamic grid to position appropriately. But there's an even better choice than that. If I select the shape and drag it, and while dragging it, I hold down the control key, notice the cursor changes from the move symbol to a plus sign above a black cursor. That's an indication that I'm not only moving the shape, but duplicating it at the same time.
And now I can use the enhanced grid to get the shape in the place that I want it. Let go of the mouse, and I've created a duplicate. Once more, I'm going to delete that and show you another technique. The control drag technique I just showed you puts the burden on me to ensure that the resulting duplicate shape ends up being aligned the way I want it. Let's add one more modifier key, the shift key, so that Visio does that work for us. To see how the shift key constrains motion to exactly one direction in Visio, let's try it by itself, first.
Once again, select that blue shape, hold down the shift key, the first direction I move it is the only direction I can move it. I'm going up and down, but notice if I move the cursor left-right, the shape does not follow. If I happen to move it horizontally first, then I can't move it up and down. So let's use that combined with what we've already learned. Move the shape, hold control and shift, and now, it's perfectly aligned. All I need to do is stop when it's in the right place.
Let go of both control and shift keys and the mouse button, and we're done. If you ever need to create a grid of shapes in Visio, say, servers in a network diagram or any other kind of shapes that you want to align in a grid, you can use a combination of the methods I've just shown you, along with the page grid or the dynamic grid to achieve your result. Let's go to the next page in this diagram, where there's a single square in the upper corner. We'll use it to create a five by five grid. I'm going to use one combination of techniques that works pretty well, but if you experiment a bit, you may find a combination that you like even better.
Let's select the square, hold down control, and then shift, and use the dynamic grid to match the spacing interval between these squares with the interval set for the page. Having done that once, I can press function key F4, or control Y to duplicate. So that repeats the previous action. Let's do the same thing in the other direction. Control shift, and use the dynamic grid, spacing is good. Once again, function key F4 three times, and I've got the edges of my five by five grid.
Next I'm going to select the four remaining shapes in the upper row, control and shift to drag down. Now when you're dragging a selection of shapes like this, you don't get the dynamic grid feedback, so I have to eyeball this in the left-right direction, but I know it's good in the up and down direction, because I'm holding down the shift key. I've done that once. Let's F4 one, two, three times. Looks pretty good to my eye, but let's double check. And we can use the dynamic grid to help us.
Select any shape and move the mouse just a little bit. Don't move very much, or you'll move the square, move the shape. But in this case, notice all the feedback I get in both directions. That looks like pretty good alignment. Try it with a different one. Move the mouse a little bit, and the enhanced grid lights up. Copy, paste, and duplicate are easy ways to make copies of shapes, but using control drag can make the task of creating duplicates even easier. Adding the shift key can help add precision.
Combining any of those techniques with a dynamic grid makes it easy to create patterns of shapes.
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- Decoding Visio versions and editions
- Setting Visio options
- Navigating like a pro
- Taking advantage of hyperlinks
- Managing text on shapes
- Annotating diagrams with comments and callouts
- Inserting text display fields
- Working more efficiently
- Mastering Visio keyboard shortcuts
- Aligning and sizing shapes on a page
- Managing connectors and connection points
- Copying, pasting, and duplicating shapes