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Command and Control ARCHICAD - Part 2

This is the second of a series of four #justthetip articles showing you how to master the primary keys you need to Command and Control ARCHICAD… in this article we will take a look at the SHIFT key and what it can do for you!

Shift is one of those multi-function keys in ARCHICAD that performs a number of important tasks allowing you to select, deselect, constrain or act as a shortcut modifier. In addition, the Shift key works identically on both Mac OS or Windows.

Selection / Deselection

The SHIFT key can significantly speed up day to day use of ARCHICAD if you use it for Selection and Deselection rather than the Arrow Tool. The Arrow Tool is actually an incredibly slow way for working. If you think of a typical scenario where you are drawing a Wall then decide something else needs edited before continuing… this often leads to swinging the mouse off to the top left of the screen to select the Arrow Tool to then swing back to the element you need to select then back again to the Wall Tool you were originally using. That is tiring to type never mind repeat on a regular basis!

An alternative to the miles and miles of mouse swinging across the desk is simple… at any time, while any Tool is active in the Toolbox, press and hold Shift. You will see the cursor will change from whatever intelligent cursor was visible to an Arrow… effectively you are switching to the Arrow Tool without the need to click it in the Toolbox.

To select anything, hold Shift and click the mouse. To select multiple elements, keep Shift held down and click on whatever other elements you require.

However, sometimes you might overcook the Selection and need to Deselect an element or two. In this case, keep holding that Shift key and click again on any selected element.

This is also a really useful filtering technique. If you need to select a Slab but the model has a Roof, a Zone or other elements ‘in the way’ you can simply activate the Slab Tool and use the Shift click technique… because the Slab Tool is active in the Toolbox, Slabs will always be selected before other elements. Here is an example showing just that:


This is a real ‘old school’ technique from way back in the days before Guidelines were introduced to ARCHICAD… a looong time ago ;-)

If you are drawing an element and want to lock it to Horizontal or Vertical or 45 degrees (or whatever you set) - all you need to do is hold Shift. The element will then be locked to the nearest incremental angle. As long as you hold Shift, the element will remain constrained. If you need to switch to a different angle, let go of Shift, move the mouse and then hold Shift again. Don’t worry, there is a video coming up to show this in action!

You can control the Constraints in the Work Environment by going to Options> Work Environment> Input Constraints and Guides...

Shortcut Modifier

In the last article we looked at some of the shortcuts that were useful with the Command or Control key. The Shift key acts as a modifier for many of these commands*. What that means typically is something like the following:

Cmd / Ctrl + Z = Undo > Cmd / Ctrl + Shift + Z = Redo*

Cmd / Ctrl + D = Drag > Cmd / Ctrl + Shift + D = Drag a copy*

Cmd / Ctrl + E = Rotate > Cmd / Ctrl + Shift + E = Rotate a copy*

Cmd / Ctrl + M = Mirror > Cmd / Ctrl + Shift + M = Mirror a copy*

* Please note: the BIM6x Work Environment uses ALT as the modifier in this case. Please refer to Options> Work Environment> Keyboard Shortcuts to check your specific settings.

However, my personal favourite for the Shift modifier is in the 3D Window. If you press and hold the mouse wheel, you can Pan around the model. But, if you hold Shift then press and hold the mouse wheel - the modifier converts the action to Orbit. This is much quicker than manually activating Orbit each time you need it!

These are pretty difficult to try and show in a screenshot - so why not take a look at the following video which runs through all of the items discussed in this article…

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