An old Visio Corporation coworker of mine used to talk about “…being a two-handed Visio user, as opposed to being a one-handed Visio user.”
What he meant was that you can get a lot more done if you learn a few keyboard shortcuts and mouse techniques.
The Visio keyboard shortcuts that we’re sharing with you today will allow you push, pull and prod Visio in a fashion that seems almost natural. By learning them, the drudgery of tasks that you need to perform often will become reactionary, and almost invisible!
Zooming & Panning
If you’re working on large or detailed drawings or charts, you’ll need to do a lot of zooming and panning. Doing this with the zoom drop-down list and the scroll bars will slow you down, and interrupt your work flow.
But there are two sets of mouse techniques that will get you sailing again:
- Ctrl + Shift + Mouse-click or Mouse-drag
- Ctrl or Shift + Roller-mouse movements
Ctrl + Shift Zooming & Panning
The next four techniques allow you to zoom in and out and pan the drawing window. You hold down the Ctrl + Shift keys and either click or hold a mouse button to get the job done.
Zoom In 2x: Ctrl + Shift + Left Mouse-click
Double your zoom by simply holding down the Ctrl + Shift keys, then clicking the left mouse button!
Zoom Out 2x: Ctrl + Shift + Right Mouse-click
The opposite of the previous shortcut, holding down the Ctrl + Shift keys and clicking the right mouse button zooms you out to half the previous level.
Zoom to Region: Ctrl + Shift + Left Mouse-drag
You can specify exactly where you want to zoom with this command. Press the Ctrl + Shift keys together, then hold the left mouse button. You can now drag a net around the area that you want to zoom. Visio will fill the window with the region that you specify.
Pan: Ctrl + Shift + Right Mouse-drag
Hold down the right mouse-button to push and pull your page to the desired location. You’ll see the little hand cursor which lets you know that you’re ready to pan.
Wheel-mouse Zooming & Panning
If you have a “roller mouse”–that is, a mouse that has a wheel, you can zoom and pan with these alternative techniques.
Pan Up & Down: Wheel forward/backward
You don’t need to hold down any special keys to to pan up and down with the wheel. Just roll the wheel forward to pan the page downwards, and roll the wheel backward to pan the page upwards.
Pan Left & Right: Shift + Wheel forward/backward
Holding the Shift key while rolling allows you to pan left and right. With the Shift key held down, just roll the wheel forward to pan to the right, and roll the wheel backward to pan to the left.
Zoom In & Out: Ctrl + Wheel forward/backward
If you switch to the Ctrl key while rolling, you can zoom in and out! With the Ctrl key depressed, rolling forward will zoom in, and rolling backward will zoom out.
The following keyboard shortcuts aren’t worth categorizing, but are worth learning! You’ll perform these functions a lot, so they can really save you a lot of time and effort!
Select Pointer Tool: Ctrl + 1
A lot of Visio tools are “mixed-mode”, meaning functions overlap. For instance, you can still select shapes when are working with the Rectangle, Ellipse, Line, Arc, Freeform or Pencil tools. But at some point, you’ll need to switch back to the pointer tool. And you’ll find yourself needing to do this a lot. Ctrl + 1 is your man.
Note: you can select the other drawing tools with other Ctrl + Number combinations.
- Ctrl + 2: Text Block Tool
- Ctrl + 3: Connector Tool
- Ctrl + 4: Pencil Tool
- Ctrl + 5: Freeform Tool
- Ctrl + 6: Line Tool
- Ctrl + 7: Arc Tool
- Ctrl + 8: Rectangle Tool
- Ctrl + 9: Ellipse Tool
Select All Shapes: Ctrl + A
This is pretty standard Windows stuff. Sometimes you want to move or delete everything on the page. With this command, you don’t need to zoom out to see everything. Just quickly select all the shapes and proceed with whatever you wanted to do.
Speaking of standard Wndows behavior, you can also duplicate shapes via Ctrl + Left mouse-drag.
Save File: Alt + F, S
Ok, Visio has an Auto-save feature. But now that you have learned all these shortcuts, you’ll be working so fast, you’ll want to save more often then Microsoft deems necessary. Plus some of you probably turn Auto-save off because it can be annoying.
Edit: Reader Steve has pointed out a that Ctrl + S is a quicker and better way to save a file!
I like Alt + F, S and Alt + F, A for Save and Save As, respectively because they are similar, and occupy a similar compartment in my mind.
Zoom Whole Page: Ctrl + W
You’ve zoomed WAY in. You’ve finished getting your details just so. Now you want to step back and have a look. You can either zoom out fifteen times, or
Edit: Attention Visio 2010 users!
You now have to press Ctrl + Shift to zoom to the whole page! Ctrl + W now closes the document!
Switch Between Visio Windows: Ctrl + Tab
Whether your working on several drawings at once, have a bunch of group windows open, or are switching between several ShapeSheet windows, you’ll get it done a lot faster if you keep your thumb on the Ctrl key and another finger hovering over the Tab key.
Edit: Reader Mark Nelson has pointed out somewhat related shortcuts: you can quickly switch between pages in a document using the Ctrl + Page Up and Ctrl + Page Down key combinations.
For those of you who have dug a little deeper into the crazy world of Visio and have a need to create SmartShapes, work with ShapeSheet formulas, or automate tasks using the built-in Visual Basic for Applications programming environment, then there’s a couple of shortcuts for you!
Show ShapeSheet Window: Alt + W, S
Yes, you can get a Show ShapeSheet menu item in your right-click context menu by turning on Developer Mode (You do this via: Tools > Options > Advanced Tab, then check: Run in developer mode) But if you’re a two-handed Visio user, your right hand will be hovering over the Alt, W and S keys, just waiting for a chance to fire-up the ShapeSheet!
Show VBA Editing Environment: Alt + F11
Do you really want to fish through the cascading menus for:Tools > Macro > Visual Basic Editor every time you want to slam out a bit of test-code? Of course you don’t. Just hit Alt + F11. I bet a lot of Visio MVPs don’t even know where the menu item is!
Hopefully, these tips will increase your productivity with Visio, and improve your overall experience as well.
If you’re in need of more keyboard shortcuts, check out some of these links below. While they were created for older versions of Visio, most of the shortcuts still apply, even in Visio 2007!
- Visio 2002 Shortcut Keys – A nice Visio drawing in VSD format from Visio Cafe.
- Visio 2002 Shortcut Reference – A Microsoft-provided guide, which downloads an EXE that simply unzips a good-looking PDF to your hard drive.
- Visio 2003 Keyboard Shortcut Mousepad – Keep those shortcuts handy, and your mouse-hand cozy! From Dan Brown on greenions.
- Visio 2003 Keyboard Shortcuts – A boring but well-organized collapsable list of Visio shortcuts from Microsoft.
- Visio 2003 Quick Guide – A nice PDF file from the folks at Ball State University.