Select, move, resize, and rotate shapes

Microsoft Visio 2010 gives you multiple tools to select, move, resize, and rotate shapes and objects. Once you have selected an object - or all the objects - on the drawing, you can then change their position, enlarge or shrink them, flip them horizontally, and nudge them into position.

 Note   If you are unable to select, move, resize, or rotate a shape on your diagram, it might be part of a locked layer.

To unlock a layer, do the following:

  • On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Layers, and select Layer Properties. In the Layer Properties dialog box, in the Lock column, clear the check box associated with the shape that you want to select.
What do you want to do?


Select shapes

Most often, you have to select shapes before you can do other things, such as move, rotate, or resize shapes, in Visio 2010 drawings. In Visio, you can select shapes one at a time, by area, with the lasso tool, or select all the shapes on the page.

Quick Tasks

Task Action
Select a single shape
  1. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click Pointer Tool.
  2. Point to the shape on the drawing page until it becomes a four-headed arrow, and then click the shape.
Select multiple shapes with Area Select
  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Select, and select Area Select.
  2. Place the pointer above and to the left of the shapes that you want to select, and then drag to create a selection net around the shapes.
  3. After you select the shapes, you'll see blue selection handles around the shapes that you selected and magenta lines around the individual shapes.
Select multiple shapes with Lasso Select
  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Select, and select Lasso Select.
  2. Drag a freeform selection net around the shapes that you want to select.
  3. When you select multiple shapes, blue selection handles appear around the selected shapes.
Select shapes partially within a selection area

By default for both the Area Select and Lasso Select tools, the selection net must completely surround each shape for it to be selected. If you want more flexibility, you can widen the selection net so that shapes partially within it are also selected.

To enable Visio to select shapes partially within a selection area, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Under Visio, click Options.
  3. In the Visio Options dialog box, on the Advanced tab, under Editing options, select the Select shapes partially within area check box.

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Select multiple shapes on a page by using keyboard shortcuts

Press and hold SHIFT or CTRL while clicking shapes to select multiple shapes one at a time.

 Tip   You can also use these keys to add another shape to a current selection. For example, if you want to add a shape to a selection that you created by using the Area Select tool, you can hold down SHIFT or CTRL and then click the shape.

Select all the shapes on the drawing page On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Select, and select Select All.
Select all a particular kind of object
  1. On the Home tab, in the Edit group, click Select, and then select Select by Type.
  2. In the Select by Type dialog box, check the type of object that you want to select, such as shapes, connectors, or containers, and then click OK.
Deselect one or more shapes

To deselect all shapes:

  • Click a blank area on your drawing or press ESC.

To deselect one shape when several are selected:

  • Press SHIFT and click a shape to cancel its selection.

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Move shapes

Visio 2010 offers several ways to help you position shapes exactly where you want them.

Quick Tasks

Task Action
Move shapes by using your mouse
  1. Select all the shapes that you want to move.
  2. Rest the pointer on one of the shapes. A four-headed arrow appears.
  3. Drag the shapes to their new positions.

All of the selected shapes move the same distance and direction from their original positions.

 Tip   To constrain the movement of the shapes to vertical or horizontal, hold down SHIFT while you drag the shapes. To move the shapes to another page in the drawing, drag the shapes to a page tab.

Move shapes a specific distance (requires Visio Professional 2010)
  1. Select all the shapes that you want to move.
  2. On the View tab, in the Macros group, click Add-Ons, point to Visio Extras, and then click Move Shapes.
  3. Under Direction, specify the coordinate system the you want to use to move the shape or shapes.
    • Horizontal/Vertical     This uses X-Y (Cartesian) coordinates to move the selection.
    • Distance/Angle     This uses polar coordinates to move the select.
  4. Specify the distances to move the selection.
  5. To move a copy of the selected shape or shapes and keep the original shape or shapes in the original position, select Duplicate.
  6. When you have finished making your selections, click OK.
Nudge shapes by using the arrow keys
  1. Select all the shapes that you want to move.
  2. Do the following:

If there is no position to which the shape can snap, pressing an arrow key moves the shape a single tick on the ruler.

  • To move the shape one pixel, hold down SHIFT while pressing an arrow key.

 Note   If pressing an arrow key scrolls your drawing instead of moving a shape, make sure that the SCROLL LOCK key is not on.

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Resize shapes

In Visio 2010, you can resize the shapes by dragging them until they are the size that you want, or you can specify a specific size.

Quick Tasks

Task Action
Resize a 2-dimensional (2-D) shape (such as a rectangle) with the mouse
  1. Select all the shapes that you want to resize.
  2. Drag a selection handle Selection handle until the shape is the size that you want. To resize the shape proportionally, drag a corner handle.
Resize a 1-dimensional shape, such as a line, with the mouse
  1. Select the shape that you want to resize.
  2. Drag an endpoint to the length you want.
Resize a shape using the Size & Position window
  1. Select all the shapes that you want to move.
  2. On the View tab, in the Show group, click Task Panes and select Size & Position.
  3. In the Size & Position window, type new values into the Width, Height, or Length boxes.

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Rotate or flip shapes

You can rotate shapes by degrees, flip them vertically, flip them horizontally, or rotate them using the rotation handle.

 Note   If you want to learn how to rotate text, see Add, edit, move, or rotate text and text blocks.

Quick Tasks

Task Action
Rotate a shape 90 degrees
  1. Select the shapes that you want to rotate.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • To rotate the shape counterclockwise, on the Home tab, in the Arrange group, click Position, point to Rotate Shapes, and select Rotate Left 90º.
    • To rotate the shape clockwise, on the Home tab, in the Arrange group, click Position, point to Rotate Shapes, and select Rotate Right 90º
Rotate a shape using the rotation handle
  1. Select the shapes that you want to rotate
  2. Drag a rotation handle Rotation handle in Visio 2010..

The shape rotates around the pin Shapes rotate around the rotation pin in Visio.. To move the pin, rest the pointer over the rotation handle, and then move the pointer over the pin and drag it to a new location.

The further you move the cursor from the selection while dragging the rotation handle, the finer (smaller) the rotation increment.

Rotate a shape by angle using the Size & Position window
  1. Select the shapes that you want to rotate
  2. On the View tab, in the Show group, click Task Panes and select Size & Position.
  3. On the View tab, in the Show group, click Task Panes and select Size & Position.
  4. In the Size & Position window, type a new values into the Angle boxes.
Flip a shape vertically
  1. Select the shapes that you want to flip.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Arrange group, click Position, point to Rotate Shapes, and select Flip Vertical.
Flip a shape horizontally
  1. Select the shapes that you want to flip.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Arrange group, click Position, point to Rotate Shapes, and select Flip Horizontal.

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Applies to:
Visio 2010