Application window

When the Vectorworks program launches, the main window opens with a new, blank file by default. Each Vectorworks product has a unique workspace that contains the menus, palettes, and tool sets appropriate for that product in a default layout (see Workspaces). During a work session, palettes may be opened, closed, and moved around as necessary. When the application is closed, the last workspace settings are preserved and restored for the next session.

To define custom settings for the file that opens each time Vectorworks launches, see Creating templates.


Vectorworks Design Suite workspace on Windows



Vectorworks Design Suite workspace on Mac - Light mode

If you are using a Mac in Dark Mode, the Vectorworks theme updates automatically. However, the design layer and sheet layer still have a white background. To optimize their appearance in Dark Mode, change these interactive appearance settings (a dark gray color is suggested):

General - Background - 3D Views

General - Background - Sheet Layers

General - Background - Top/Plan

You may also want to change other settings for improved visibility. See Configuring interactive display.


Vectorworks Design Suite workspace on Mac - Dark mode

Windows, palettes, tool sets, and dialog boxes that contain a sizing handle in their bottom right corner can be resized; click-drag the sizing handle to the desired location.

The following table describes some of the workspace features common to all Vectorworks products.



Menu bar

Contains pull-down menus that access Vectorworks commands; displays the Message Center and the Sign In option for your Vectorworks user account

Title bar

All windows, palettes, tool sets, and dialog boxes have a title bar; click and drag any title bar to move the item to the desired location. See Palette display options.

Data bar

Depending on the tool and on the action being performed, the Data bar displays information such as coordinate data, length, and angle. Use the Data Bar and Edit Group Options list to set the Data bar either to “float” with the cursor, or to be stationary on the Data bar. See Using the Data bar for more information. These options can also be set from the selections listed under Window > Data Bar Options.

Tool bar

Displays the various modes of the active tool; click a mode to select it. The bar also displays mode information and accesses the tool preferences, if any. The Tool bar is divided into sections grouped by mode function. To move easily through the mode sections from the keyboard, press the U, I, O, P, [ (left bracket), and ] (right bracket) keys. Each key corresponds to a consecutive Tool bar section (see the Mode Modifier shortcuts in Modifying special shortcuts).

View bar

Contains buttons and pull-down menus that control the view in various ways (see The View bar)

Status bar

Displays snapping tools, informational text, undo messages, minor alerts, and a progress bar (when applicable). The Status bar also displays cursor location fields.

Drawing area

This is the open portion in the middle of the Vectorworks application window where drawings are created; it includes both the print area and the space that surrounds it

Print area

Within the drawing area, a gray border defines the print area, if shown. Only the objects that are included within the print area are printed. The print area is divided into pages; each page equals a physical sheet of paper to be printed. A print margin is built in for each page (see The page boundary).


Based on the current measurement system, rulers make it easier to precisely create and place objects within the drawing. The cursor position is highlighted on the rulers, and its appearance can be customized from the Interactive Appearance Settings (see Vectorworks preferences: Interactive pane).

The 0,0 point on the rulers represents the location of the user origin, or of the working plane axes when using a working plane. The User Origin command moves the user origin relative to the internal origin, or moves the working plane origin to that of the layer (see Setting the user origin).

The rulers can be hidden with an option in the Vectorworks preferences (see Vectorworks preferences: Display pane).


Based on the current measurement system, two grid systems make it easier to precisely create and place objects within the file. To hide the reference grid, deselect Show grid (see Snapping to the grid and Snap and reference grids).

Screen tips

Screen tips display when the cursor hovers over tools, modes, and certain other palette features. Screen tips identify the item, the keyboard shortcut if there is one, and may contain additional information. On Windows, some screen tips can be expanded by clicking the disclosure arrow.

Smart Options Display

When enabled, Smart Options Display provides context-sensitive access to tools and palettes in the area surrounding the cursor; see Smart Options Display.

The View bar

Palettes and tool sets

List box functionality

Additional key functionality

Object editing mode

Setting Vectorworks preferences

Setting document preferences

Resource Manager

The Object Info palette


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