Control the visualization in Abaqus in 3 steps

Written by Miguel

22 Feb, 2021

In Abaqus, as in any other CAD/CAE software, we often need to manipulate the visualization of the geometry on the screen, either pan, rotate or zoom. This operations are a must when editing or simply visualizing the geometry.

In general, every program has its own keyboard/mouse shortcut combinations. However, we all agree that the easier to remember and to use these shortcuts are, the better.

1. Manipulation through the toolbar

The first thing we need to do is to turn on the visibility of the toolbar with the manipulation options:

View > Toolbars > View Manipulation

In the toolbar View Manipulation you will find all the functionalities to modify the current view:

Pan (F2)

Rotate (F3)

Zoom (F4)

Box zoom (F5)

Auto-fit (F6)

Previous views (F7)

Although it is not difficult to remember these shortcuts, I prefer manipulating the view just with the mouse. It is much faster and we don’t need to look at the keyboard.

2. Visualization mode customization

If you are or you have been user of other softwares like CATIA or SolidWorks, lucky you because you can select those visualization shortcuts (and some more). To do that, go to the menu Tools > Options:

In the View Manipulation tab you can choose any of the available Mouse Configurations, from the default in Abaqus based on Ctrl + Alt + Mouse, until NX and some others.

3. My favourite visualization mode

Had I to take one configuration to navigate the viewport, I would choose CATIA’s because it provides the three main functionalities (pan, rotate and zoom in/out) using just the mouse. So, you can fully control the visualization with a single hand! At first, may not be very intuitive, but after a few minutes it will flow naturally. The mouse combinations are:

Pan view

Hold middle mouse button while panning

Rotate view

Hold middle mouse button and (without releasing it) press the left mouse button and move it in the direction you want it to rotate


Scroll with the mouse wheel to zoom out (forward) and zoom in (backwards)

One more tip to rotate the view

Very often we are looking at a detail on our model and when we rotate the view, the whole model rotates and we have to move everything again to find again that detail. It is quite annoying and the solution to that is fairly simple. You just need to right click on the spot you are looking at and select ‘Set As Rotation Center‘. Like this all rotations will take place around that point.

Once we are done examining the detail we can right-click again anywhere and select ‘Use Default Rotation Center’.

Did you know that…?

Every time that you want to accept or confirm a selection in Abaqus (“Done“, “Continue“…), you can do it by clicking the middle mouse button (anywhere). This shortcut may not seem worth it, but it really saves time too.

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