FreeCad: Viewing and Navigating a Model

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This page is part of a planned series on FreeCad was .17. now being revised for .18, think info is still true ( 2019 dec ) Click on the category FreeCad for some more information.


There are several different tools for navigation your model. When you are not using them well things can be very confusing. In many cases you may think that FreeCad is not working when it really is. Symptoms may include the idea that FreeCad is not working because for example nothing happened after you did some action.

Tools that are useful:

  • Wait a bit FreeCad may be recalculating. Look for the wait cursor.
  • Objects may be set to invisible, use the visibility tools including View -> Visibility -> .......
  • You may be zoomed in or out too much.
  • Use the Model tab to see what is what.
  • Install and use the Dependency Graph -- see how the different components relate to each other.
  • Poke around in the User Interface, some things are sort of hidden, and some things have multiple interfaces.
  • You can sometimes use the Python Console to identify an object, click on it, change something and look at the Python Console, see notes below.
  • You can rename parts of the model to make finding them and their purpose easier. Note that all parts have 2 names, and internal one and an external one.
  • You can use color and transparency of the parts to make them easier to identify.
  • You may need to make your model recalculate or refreesh this is on the menu at Edit Refresh (accelerator key listed there )-- it only works when FreeCad thinks there is a part needing refresh and only on those parts. You can mark a part of you model for recompute by right clicking in the model tree and selecting Mark for recompute. Check out refresh links here:

Refresh Links

Visibility Tools

I often am unsure what I am looking at in the model, or if the zoom and position are ok. I find a reset is useful:

  • View -> Visibility ->
  • View -> Visibility -> Standard Views -> Axonometric
  • View -> Standard Views -> Fit All

Then use the space bar to turn on the visibility of the part you want to see ( note in .17 you need to make a "Body" visible to see any component in it.

Toggling the visibility of a part in the Model Tab may make it blink enough to clearly identify it

Note that seeing a primitive subtractive part can be difficult, double click it, else you may see only the hole it creates.

Model View

In a Sketch