Connect shapes by using AutoConnect or the Connector tool

By using AutoConnect, you can quickly add connected shapes to your diagram without going back to the Shapes window to get each shape. Each shape you select is added with consistent spacing, evenly aligned.

When you hold the pointer over a shape’s AutoConnect arrow, a mini toolbar appears beside the pointer.

Mini toolbar

The toolbar contains the first four items from the Quick Shapes area of the active stencil (or, if the Quick Shapes stencil is active, the first four items from the group that contains a selected shape), excluding one-dimensional shapes. Click a shape in the mini toolbar to add it to the page.

If the shapes you want to connect are already on the page, you can drag a connector from the AutoConnect arrow of one shape to another shape.

What do you want to do?


Add connected shapes to the page automatically

  1. Drag a starting shape from the Shapes window to the page, if there are no shapes on the page yet.
  2. Hold the pointer over the starting shape until blue AutoConnect arrows appear around the shape.
  3. Hold the pointer over the arrow in the direction you want to add a shape.

A mini toolbar appears that contains the first four Quick Shapes that are currently in the Quick Shapes stencil. A Live Preview of the shape that is selected in the stencil appears on the page.

  1. Move the pointer over the four shapes in the mini toolbar to see a live preview of each shape on the page.
  2. Click the shape you want to add.

If you want a different shape, move the pointer away from the AutoConnect arrow and the previews will disappear. You can then drag the shape you want from the Shapes window.

Quick Tasks

Task Action
Change the Quick Shapes for a stencil. Open the stencil and drag the Quick Shapes into the order you want. You can drag shapes into and out of the Quick Shapes area.
Change which shapes appear on the mini toolbar.

In the Quick Shapes stencil, select a shape in the group of Quick Shapes you want to appear on the mini toolbar. The group with the selected shapes appears on the toolbar.

Alternatively, you can drag the stencil that contains the shapes you want to appear first and drop it just below the Quick Shapes title bar. You can change the order of other stencils by dragging them higher or lower in the Shapes window; they appear in the Quick Shapes stencil in the same order.

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Connect shapes that are already on the page

Connect shapes by using AutoConnect

  1. Hold the pointer over a shape until blue AutoConnect arrows appear around the shape.
  2. Click and drag from the AutoConnect arrow to another shape, and drop the endpoint of the connector onto the middle of the shape for a dynamic connection, or onto a specific connection point for a point connection.

A Live Preview of a shape appears when you hold the pointer over the blue arrow, but you can ignore the shape; it will disappear when the pointer moves away.

Connect shapes by using the Connector tool

  1. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click Connector.
  2. Click a shape and drag a connector to another shape.

To keep the connector glued to a specific point on a shape, drag from a connection point on the first shape to a connection point on the second shape. The connector endpoints turn red when the shapes are connected. This is called a point connection.

To allow the connector to move around the shape when the shape is moved, position the Connector tool over the center of the first shape until a red box appears around the shape. Hold down the mouse button and drag to the center of the second shape. When a red box appears around the second shape, release the mouse button. This is called a dynamic connection.

Quick Tasks

Task Action
Change the connector type to right-angle, straight, or curved. Right-click the connector and then click the connector type in the shortcut menu.
Align and space the shapes so the connectors are neat. Select all the shapes you want to align and then, on the Home tab, click Auto Align & Space. You can select multiple shapes by pressing the CTRL key while you click them all, or by using one of the Select options.
Change a connection from dynamic to point, or from point to dynamic. Select the connector, and then drag the connector end point away from the shape. Then drop the connector on a specific point for a point connection, or on the middle of the shape for a dynamic connection.

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Turn AutoConnect on or off

You can turn the AutoConnect feature on or off in all Visio drawings or in only the active drawing.

Turn AutoConnect on or off in the active diagram

  • On the View tab, in the Visual Aids group, select or clear the AutoConnect check box.

If the AutoConnect check box is not available, check whether AutoConnect has been turned off for all diagrams by performing the following steps.

Turn AutoConnect on or off in all diagrams

  1. Click the File tab.
  1. Under the Visio tab, click Options.
  2. Click the Advanced category.
  3. Under Editing options, select the Enable AutoConnect check box to turn on AutoConnect. Clear the check box to turn off AutoConnect.

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Applies to:
Visio 2010