Top tips for Visio

Applies to
Microsoft Office Visio® 2003

Ever wish you had a Visio expert at your shoulder while you work, always ready with great tips and tricks about how best to work in Visio? If so, this article is for you!

Keep this page bookmarked — we'll be adding new tips as time goes on.

Positioning shapes

Resizing shapes

Moving around

Selecting shapes

Connecting shapes

Working with stencils

File basics

Positioning shapes

  • Have your shapes gone awry? Select the shapes you want to align and then, on the Shape menu, click Align Shapes.
  • Space your shapes uniformly by selecting three or more shapes and then, on the Shape menu, clicking Distribute Shapes.
  • To move shapes vertically or horizontally, hold down SHIFT while you drag the shapes.

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Resizing shapes

  • Make shapes the same size by selecting them and, in the Size & Position Window (from the View menu), typing the Width and Height you want.

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Moving around

  • Zoomed in too close? Center and resize your drawing to fit in the available space of your Visio window by pressing CTRL+W.
  • Zoom in and out of your drawing fast by pressing ALT+F6 to zoom in and ALT+SHIFT+F6 to zoom out.
  • To magnify part of a drawing, on the View menu, click Pan & Zoom Window, and then in the Pan & Zoom window, click and drag to create a red box around the part of the drawing you want to magnify. Drag the red box to pan the drawing.
  • Zoom in on a specific point in your drawing by clicking while pressing CTRL+SHIFT.
  • Zoom in on an area by holding down CTRL+SHIFT and dragging a selection net around the area.
  • Zoom out and move another part of your drawing to the center by right-clicking while pressing CTRL+SHIFT.
  • See your drawing in full screen mode, minus Visio menus, task panes, and stencils, by pressing F5. Press ESC to return to the Visio program.
  • To fine tune the position of a shape in your drawing, select the shape and then use the arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge it in the right direction. For even more control, press SHIFT while using the arrow keys.
  • To position your drawing exactly where you want it on the screen, just press CTRL+SHIFT, right-click, and drag the drawing.

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Selecting shapes

  • Want to quickly select all shapes on a page? Press CTRL+A.
  • To select multiple shapes, use the Lasso Select tool to drag a selection net around the shapes you want. To find the tool, click the arrow next to the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar.
  • To select more shapes without starting over, click the Multiple Select tool, and then drag a selection net around or click the shapes you want to add. To find the tool, click the arrow next to the Pointer tool on the Standard toolbar.
  • To deselect part of a multi-shape selection without starting over, press SHIFT and click the shape you want to remove from the selection.

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Connecting shapes

  • In many drawing types, you can connect shapes automatically as you drag them onto the drawing page. First select the Connector tool and then drag a shape onto the page. Then, with the first shape still selected, drag another shape onto the drawing page.

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Working with stencils

  • To save a Visio shape to a custom stencil, right-click the shape on the stencil, point to Add To My Shapes, and then click Favorites or a stencil you have named.
  • To save the search results stencil, right-click the search results stencil title bar, and click Save As. In the File name box, type a name, and then click Save. By default, stencils are saved in your My Shapes folder.
  • To quickly access stencils in the My Shapes folder, on the File menu, point to Shapes, and then point to My Shapes.

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File basics

  • To see what's in files before you open them, in Windows Explorer click the Views button and then click Thumbnails.
  • Want to quickly open a drawing you recently worked on? Open the File menu and look between the Properties and Exit commands to see and then open the most recently used files.
  • Want to keep track of more files on the recently used file list? On the Tools menu, click Options. On the General tab under General options, type the number of filenames you want to see, and then click OK. Visio can list up to nine files.

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Applies to:
Visio 2003