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There are many ways you can configure the Altium Designer design space so that it works the best for you, including using dual monitors, viewing all documents simultaneously, and saving your unique desktop layout.
The Altium Designer design space can be customized in order to help you be more productive in your design work. Resources in an editor are the menu bars, toolbars and the shortcut key tables. Behind each resource item, there is a pre-packaged process launcher that activates a command when its resource item is selected. All the commands available from the menus can be added to or deleted from these resources. The pre-packaged process launchers bundle together the process that runs when the command is selected, plus any parameters, bitmaps (icons), captions (the name of an item that displays on a resource), descriptions, and associated shortcut keys. If a process launcher is modified, every linked instance of the command on any bar will be updated.
The following sections describe ways you can configure the Altium Designer design space to suit your needs.
Altium Designer supports the use of dual monitors with a recommended resolution of 2560 x 1440. With many documents open simultaneously, several panels, toolbars and support documents, this feature affords you enough space to configure a more comfortable working environment. You might, for example, dedicate the use of one monitor solely for design, while arranging various panels and additional documents on the other. Use the computer settings to configure your monitor set up according to your needs.
When you open a document, it becomes the active document in the main design window on the Documents Bar. Multiple documents may be opened simultaneously and each open document has its own tab at the top of the design window. Only one document can be active within the main design window; the active document is distinguished by a highlighted appearance of its tab. The image below shows three documents open, one PCB and two schematics, with the middle schematic document currently active.
To make another open document the active document, click on its tab. Alternatively, use the Ctrl+Tab or Ctrl+Shift+Tab keys to cycle forward or backward (respectively) through all open documents. If you have a large number of documents open, you can choose to group them by enabling the Group documents if need option in the Documents Bar options on the System - View page of the Preferences dialog. Documents can be grouped by document kind or by project.
Document Insight provides an alternate way to preview and open your documents. When the Enable Document Insight option is enabled on the System - Design Insight page of the Preferences dialog, a small preview of the document is displayed when you hover the cursor over the document icon in the Projects panel. Click on the preview to open the document. Note that the document must have been open at least once for the preview to be displayed.
With Altium Designer, you are not limited to viewing and working with a single design document at a time. Various commands are provided that allow you to effectively manage the open documents and tailor their display to your preferred working habits.
Right-click on a document tab to access various commands for managing the document. These commands including closing and saving the document(s), as well as commands affecting the display of all open documents within the main design window, as shown below. Commands for splitting the main design window vertically (Split Vertical) or horizontally (Split Horizontal) are invaluable when performing cross-document tasks, such as cross-probing between a schematic and its PCB.
When split, the regions are treated as though they are individual windows. One document may be active in each region, but only one document, across all regions, can have the focus at any given time. When a new document is added, or an existing document is opened, it will be opened as part of the region in which the currently focused document resides. The image below shows the design space split vertically; the highlighted schematic document is the currently active document.
The right-click commands also allow you to tile the documents (Tile All), which opens each document in the design space as shown in the below image. In the image, the highlighted PCB document is the currently active document.
Use the Merge All command to 'merge' all documents back into a single design window.
You can also open a document in its own separate design window by right-clicking on its tab then choosing Open In New Window from the menu.
As a further aid in setting up the design environment, Altium Designer supports the notion of Desktop Layouts. This feature allows you to arrange the application's document windows, panels and toolbars around the desktop as required and then save that layout to a file. Using this feature, multiple users can quickly arrange the design space to suit their design habits by loading their preferred layout. Options for saving and loading layouts, including resetting to the default layout shipped with the software, are available from the System - View page of the Preferences dialog.
Every designer has a different way of working. Altium Designer recognizes this and, therefore, allows you to customize your design space, which allows you to be more productive. For example, you can create new toolbars and commands, as well as add commands to a toolbar or menu, and also create drop-down menus. The following sections describe the procedures for customizing your design space.
You can easily customize Altium Designer by arranging the menus and toolbars anywhere on your monitors to suit your needs. The Customizing Editor dialog is used to customize the resources in an editor, as well as adding to or deleting from these resources. When the Customizing Editor dialog is open, you can click and drag commands between the active menus and toolbars. The dialog can be accessed by right-clicking on a menu bar or toolbar then choosing Customize from the drop-down menu or by double-clicking in a blank area (away from any commands) of a menu bar or toolbar. Each editor has its own version of the dialog as shown in the example images below.
From the Toolbars tab of the Customizing Editor dialog, you can select which main menu and toolbars to display, create a new or duplicate toolbar, as well as rename, delete or restore toolbars. To create a new toolbar:
If you want to create a new toolbar based on an existing toolbar, it is easier to duplicate the original toolbar and edit the commands.
Toolbars will only appear on the screen if they are active. Select which toolbars are active (displayed) on the Toolbars tab on the Customizing Editor dialog. When the Is Active box is enabled (checked), the associated toolbar is active and will be displayed.
A command can be linked or duplicated when it is added to a bar. A linked command will be updated if the original process launcher is modified. A duplicated command, however, will remain as a copy of the original process launcher and not be updated. Duplicated commands can be modified to create a new command by changing its process launcher properties. To add a command to a bar:
With the Customizing Editor dialog open, select the command in a menu or toolbar you want to duplicate or link. Use Ctrl+Click then drag the command to the new location (to Insert Duplicate); use Shift+Ctrl+Click then drag the command to the new location (to Insert Link).
You can nominate which main menu bar is active (displayed) by selecting a menu from the Bar to use as Main Menu drop-down on the Toolbars tab in the Customizing Editor dialog.
Use the following steps to restore the original default menus and toolbars and delete all customizations:
Use the following steps to create a new command:
It is often easier to create a new command by duplicating an existing command that is similar then modify its parameters. To duplicate a command:
Deleting a customized command stored in the Custom category will delete all instances of the custom command from all resources.
If you want to delete just one instance of a command without affecting other instances:
You can add a line separator above the item in a menu or before an icon in a toolbar. With the Customizing Editor dialog open, right-click on a menu or toolbar item then select Begin Group.
The files for your customizations are stored at:
\Users\<ProfileName>\AppData\Roaming\Altium\Altium Designer <GUID>. These files are:
On the Commands tab of the Customizing Editor dialog, [System Level] includes the commands to 'toggle floating panel visibility' and to toggle floating panel focus'. Any new commands added to this category will become system commands and their shortcut keys can be used in any editor.
A shortcut key table lists all the shortcuts currently available in an editor. Only one shortcut key table can be active per editor. As an example, Schematic Shortcuts is the name of the default shortcut key table for the schematic editor. If a shortcut key is changed in a command, it is updated in the active table automatically.
Shortcut key tables can be added, created, deleted, or modified in the same way as menus and toolbars.
Altium Designer supports several non-English language modes. All menu items and most dialog text will be presented in the language chosen in Windows for the computer on which Altium Designer is installed. Localization is configured on the System - General page of the Preferences dialog. After changing any of the Localization settings, you will need to restart Altium Designer.
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