Use the Shapes window to organize and find shapes

The Shapes window organizes shapes and provides ways for you to find more shapes. Shapes are organized in stencils. Every diagram template includes one or more stencils with shapes that are relevant to the diagram type.

To find more shapes, you can browse the shapes you have installed or you can search your computer or the Internet. When you need more working room for your diagram, you can minimize the Shapes window and still have access to the most-used shapes.

What do you want to do?

What are stencils?

Stencils contain a collection of related shapes. For example, in a workflow template there is a stencil that contains all the work flow object shapes, another that contains work flow steps, and a stencil with a collection of arrow shapes to indicate direction. In a home planning template, there is a stencil for walls, one for furniture, one for garden accessories, and so on.

Stencils are stacked one over the other in the Shapes window. The shapes from only one stencil at a time are displayed. To see the shapes for a stencil, click the stencil’s title bar. The title bars always stay at the top of the Shapes window, but if there are several, they can be hidden to leave room to display the shapes. If stencil title bars are hidden, a scroll bar appears next to the title bars so you can scroll through them.

Shapes window

You can extend the title bar area to show all the title bars by grabbing the border between the titles and the shapes and dragging it down.

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Browse for more shapes

Any stencil can be opened in any diagram, even diagrams not based on templates that include the stencil by default. You can browse all the available templates from the Shapes window.

  1. In the Shapes window, click the More Shapes title bar.

A menu opens that shows categories that are similar to the template categories.

  1. Point to a category, then browse the stencils in the category and click to open one in your diagram.

Browse more shapes from the Shapes Window

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Search for more shapes on your computer

By default, the Search for Shapes box is hidden to leave room to display shapes. Open the Search for Shapes box to search your computer for specific shapes instead of browsing through the stencils.

  1. In the Shapes window, click More Shapes.
  2. Click Search for Shapes.

The Search for Shapes box opens at the top of the Shapes window.

Search for shapes

  1. Type a shape name or keyword in the box and press ENTER.

 Note   The Windows Search service must be running to use Search for Shapes. This Windows service is always on by default, but if you have trouble using Search for Shapes, the Windows Search service might have been stopped on your computer.

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Search for more shapes on the Internet

  1. In the Shapes window, click More Shapes.
  2. Click Find Shapes Online.

A browser opens and displays a page where you can search for shapes online.

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Minimize the Shapes window to make more diagramming room

  • Click the Minimize the Shapes window arrow in the upper corner of the Shapes window.

The window is minimized to a single vertical row of shapes.

You can still drag shapes out of the window, and even change stencils or browse for more stencils by clicking the Stencil icon at the top of the minimized window.

To open the window to full size, click the Expand the Shapes window arrow at the top of the window.

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Applies to:
Visio 2010