Using Empty Views (Part 2: How to use them)

My articles on Empty Views in SolidWorks have been long in coming.  This is not due to the topic being complex or anything.  It’s just taken me that long to get around to this series.  (There’s been a lot of other stuff to talk about in the meantime, such as SolidWorks World 2009, something called a 3D mouse, and rants about this or that.) The Part 1 article in this series discussed how to make, place and size Empty Views.  Part 2 now discusses how to use them once they are created.

Use Empty Views as quick Zoom to selection locations

OK, let’s say that one empty view each represents the title block, revision block and drawing notes.  How does one quickly move about the drawing to view these areas?  There are several methods available in SolidWorks.  The following method is likely less common, but is perhaps quicker can more common methods.

First, assign a shortcut to Zoom to selection function.  Zoom to selection is found under View pulldown>Modify>Zoom to selection.

Zoom to selection location

To add the shortcut (for much quicker access to this function), goto Tools pulldown>Customize…>Keyboard tab> and then search for “zoom to selection”.  From there, simply add a keystroke as the shortcut for Zoom to selection and choose OK to save.

Now here is how to use this shortcut with Empty Views.  With the drawing open and with no views selected, look over in the FeatureManager.  Select any one of the Empty Views (or any view for that matter).

FeatureManager display of views

As this point, simply hit your shortcut keystroke for Zoom to selection.  The viewport will immediately zoom to the area identified by the Empty View.

Zoom to selection of empty view

Choose another view from the FeatureManager and hit your shortcut for Zoom to section again.  Each time, the viewport will immediately zoom to the area defined by the selected view.

Using Empty Views for PDF bookmarking

As an added bonus, any views created on the drawing (including Empty Views) will become bookmarks if you save that drawing as a PDF.  This adds greatly to the navigability of PDF files for everyone who uses them.  Within PDF Reader, the bookmarks will appear to the left (similar to the FeatureManager in SolidWorks).  Simply LMB click on the desired view, and PDF Reader will jump to that location.

There are some pitfalls with saving a drawing as PDF, so if your company is experiencing those, then it is not recommended that drawings be saved as PDF.  In those cases, print to PDF works better.  Unfortunately, bookmarks are not created when printing a drawing to PDF.


The one thing that frustrates me about SolidWorks Empty Views is that SolidWorks Corp reduced their functionality (as discussed in Part 2).  However, with a simple hack, they can be used as drawing bookmarks, to contain drawing notes,  and to add functionality to PDF files.  Additionally, they are always useful for containing sketches, as noted in Part 1 of this series.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

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