Learn tips and tricks for using the software more effectively. Join Visio MVP Scott Helmers as he demonstrates how to get maximum value from the Shapes, Size & Position, and Pan & Zoom windows.
- [Narrator] The drawing window is where you do most of your work in Visio. However, there's a set of optional secondary windows that also play an important role. Some, like the Shapes window are almost always on the screen. Others you typically open and close based on what you're doing at the moment. Although the Shapes window is normally open, you might run into a situation like the one on the screen in which the window's closed. It's useful to know how to turn it on. The answer is on the View tab. Click Task Panes and then Shapes.
With the Shapes window open, you see all of the currently available stencils for creating new shapes in a diagram. There are several ways to resize the Shapes window that can be important depending on the size of your drawing and the size of your monitor. The task was actually a little bit easier in Visio 2010, because there was a visible border between the Shapes window and the Drawing window. With Visio 2013 and 2016, you have to move the cursor until it turns into a set of parallel lines with two arrows pointing outward.
I make this point very carefully, because if you're only slightly to the right and you click and drag, you're going to end up drawing a guide, which is very useful in some circumstances, but not what we're trying to accomplish here, so let me delete it. If I go back until I have a parallel line, then drag, and now the window is wider. I can continue to drag the window to make it wider, or I can make it narrower. Again, depending on how many shapes I'd like to have visible within the Shapes window.
In Visio 2013 and 2016, there's also a minimize button. I'm pointing at it now, Minimize the Shapes window. Clicking that button was really handy on narrow monitors. On today's widescreen monitors, it's less of an issue, but it does provide a way to hide all the verbiage, and I can still drag shapes from the window onto the page, but it takes a minimum amount of real estate. Let's delete that shape. Click the Maximize button to expand the window back out once again.
Also in the Shapes window, if I click More Shapes, I see a variety of pre-defined stencils that I can use to add additional stencils and shapes to my diagram, or I can click Open Stencil to navigate on my hard drive or a networked drive and find any other stencil. I can also create a new stencil if I want to. Next up is the Shape Data window which displays the names and values of data fields in your diagram. If you watch my Advanced Visio: working with Data course on this site, you'll learn a lot about the Shape Data window.
For our purposes here, we'll take a quick look at three ways to get to the Shape Data window. Three may seem excessive, but each is useful depending what you're doing at any given moment, and knowing all three can reduce unnecessary mouse movement and save time. Perhaps the most convenient way to open the Shape Data window is right click on any shape, choose Data, and Shape Data. You can also go to the View tab, Task Panes, and choose Shape Data to either turn the window on or off, and if you're using Visio Professional, on the data tab there's also a check box for the Shape Data window.
By the way, there are two additional windows mentioned here, the External Data window and the Data Graphic Fields window. Both of those are explained in detail in my Advanced Visio: Working with Data course on this site. Like most of the secondary windows, the Shape Data window can be docked. I happen to like it over here on the right side and use it there very often, but you can drag it so it floats over the page. You can resize the window to make it show as much or as little data as you'd like. Also another useful thing, you can dock it top left, bottom right as you choose, and I like to sometimes click this button to AutoHide the window.
That means that it will disappear when I'm not using it, but if I click a shape and hover, I can see its data. Let's close the window now and talk about the Size and Position window, which give you a window into the exact location and size of a shape. For example, if we select a shape, say the Firewall, you'll notice on the status bar it says Width, Height, and Angle. Clicking any one of those opens the Size and Position window.
In the case of the Firewall, we can see its exact X and Y coordinates on the page, and we can also see its width and height. If I make a change to the shape, for example if I move the shape up a little bit, notice that its X and Y coordinates change. If I make the shape taller, than its height changes. However, this isn't just a viewing window. You can effect the shape by entering values in the window. Let's change the X value to 9.5 for example.
That repositions the shape across the page, or if I go to the width and type 1.5, press Enter, watch the shape as it is now one and a half inches exactly. Finally the Pan and Zoom window helps you manage what you see in the Drawing window. You can activate it from the View tab. Click Task Panes, Pan and Zoom. This window presents a miniature version of the entire diagram. If I zoom in, I can still see the entire diagram, but I have a rectangle that shows me the viewing port that is available in the viewing window.
I can resize the viewing port here as well. You'll learn more about the Pan and Zoom window in Chapter two of this course. The Shapes window is the most frequently used of the secondary windows in Visio, but knowing about some of the other secondary windows can make you a much more effective Visio user.
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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