A typical SolidWorks Premium installation can consume about 4 gigs of hard disk space, your Toolbox directory can easily consume another. If you've left a few older versions on your drive this can add up quickly. People are often afraid of uninstalling and deleting the directories left behind for fear of corrupting the versions they do need. Stefanie put together a nice guide on the best way to uninstall old versions and clean up the left over files. Use this link to download a pdf version.
This reminded me of another cool tool that you can use to see where all the space on your drive has gone. WinDirStat will analyze your drive and graphically show you what directories, files, and file types are taking up space on your drive. Maybe you've got some really large Simulation results files you don't need. Or maybe your mp3 collection has gotten out of hand. Winderstat can help. The image below shows the output window. The upper left gives an indented breakdown of the directory structure. The upper right shows each file type. Finally the colored square in the lower section represent each file on the drive. The bigger the square the larger the file. Check it out. did I mention its free?
A while back I wrote an article on using Mouse Gestures in SolidWorks. I just finished getting trained on E3WireWorks, a tool for Electrical Schematic design. They take a different approach to gestures which is also quite effective and I really like it.
Their method involves drawing a symbol that represents the command you want to execute. You simply click and drag with the right mouse button to invoke the gestures. Draw a "C" for Cut, a "U" for Undo, and my favorite "Z" for Zoom Area. Every time I did a zoom I imagined myself as Zorro, marking my schematic. There are others like pan, zoom in, zoom out and reset.
I created a quick video showing the gestures in action and posted it to YouTube. In it I want to move a component from one section of my schematic to another. I zoom in, cut the component zoom to the destination and paste it in place, undoing and repasting when I make a mistake. All with gestures. (Technically I didn't paste with a gesture because I don't think that has a gesture.)
E3WireWorks is a great schematic design tool and writing about the gestures is a bit like describing the great cup holders in a Ferrari. Its a cool feature but there are many more important reasons to check it out.
We get asked often if there is a way to back up and restore ones SolidWorks settings. There are a lot of settings and ways to tailor the interface to your preferences. Once you've taken the time to tweak those settings you'd like to make a copy of them. The Copy Settings Wizard is the tool for that. Stefanie wrote a great guide on using it. You can download a pdf version of it here.
I strongly reccomend backing it up any time you plan to make a change to your system.
The SolidWorks 2012 Beta site is now live and the program is expected to launch at the end of June. Why should you participate? What's in it for you? Well there are prizes for participation, but I consider that only a secondary reason. If you use SolidWorks on a regular basis this is the best time to get issues specific to your files addressed. SolidWorks allows you a lot of freedom in the way you design, and as a result there are a lot of different ways to work. Make sure your methods and unique files get tested.
Lots of companies don't upgrade for some time after a new version is released. That doesn't mean you shouldn't test out the beta. Finding a problem in Beta, is more likely to be fixed then if you find it in SP3. We'll post some ideas for how to creating a test plan soon.