Navigation in Autodesk Inventor

Whether you are brand new to Inventor or a seasoned veteran, your most common task is likely navigating parts, assemblies, and drawings. The following are the picks, clicks, keys, and techniques to maneuver through Inventor’s different environments.

Mouse Commands
The four built-in functions to the mouse are:
1. Zoom In/Out
i. Rolling your middle mouse button forward or backward will zoom-in or zoom-out. By default, you pull the model toward you and push the model away. To reverse this behavior (and have the zoom behave like Google Maps) go to Tools > Application Options > Display and check “Reverse Direction” under “Zoom Behavior”. Note: Zooming by scrolling zooms toward and away from your cursor is pointed.

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2. Zoom All
a. Double Clicking the middle mouse button will zoom to fit everything in view.

3. Pan
a. Clicking down the middle mouse button will pan the model.

4. Rotate (Orbit)
a. Holding the shift key and middle mouse button will rotate the view.


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The view Cube is another method of navigating 3D space in Inventor. It is, by default, in the top right-hand corner of the graphics window.

There are quite a few ways to interact with the ViewCube:
1. Click and drag on the view cube to rotate your view.
2. Click on one of the 26 different areas of the cube to jump to the corresponding orthographic or axonometric views.
3. Click the house to jump to the “Home View”

The ViewCube is highly customizable. From the drop down in the bottom left of the ViewCube. You can change from orthographic to perspective and a combination of the two, change the “Home” view, change what the “Front” or “Top” of the model is, and dive into the advanced options for the ViewCube.

The advanced options for the ViewCube are shown below. Some of the highlights are the location of the ViewCube, Size of the ViewCube, and even showing a compass below the ViewCube which allows rotation about the bottom plane (Very useful in design reviews and presentations!).

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Navigation Toolbar

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The Navigation Toolbar is yet another way to navigate your models. It contains buttons to previously discussed commands such as pan, rotate, and zoom, as well as access to commands like the different steering wheels and “Look At.”

Look At” is will take whatever is selected (planar face, sketch, etc.) and move your view to make the selection parallel to the screen. (Super helpful in sketching the sketching environment.) I encourage you to take a peek at the rotate options, as they provide much more control than the standard Shift+Middle Mouse Button method of rotating. (Rotate about vertical axis, horizontal axis, floor, and line of sight.)


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On the “View” Tab of the Ribbon, you’ll find the “Navigate” section that contains many of the aforementioned commands.


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SteeringWheels are menus that follow along your cursor and combine some of the navigation tools into one menu. To use one of the tools, you click and drag one of the wedges of the wheel. There are multiple wheels to choose from, including “mini” wheels.

Options for the SteeringWheels are located under Tools > Application Options > Display > SteeringWheels

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Hot Keys
If mousing and virtual buttons aren’t your thing, hot keys are a great alternative. You can customize your hot keys by going to Tools > Customize > Keyboard. Below are the defaults both assigned and unassigned.

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I have been helping customers with engineering software for about 6 years, and the number one accessory that I hear rave reviews about is the 3DConnexion mouse. This wonderful little hockey puck combines most (if not all) of the navigation features mentioned above and combines them into a single piece of hardware. Push, pull, tilt, rotate, zoom, and even some programmable buttons on the side provide a huge productivity boost. The SpaceMouse Wireless is shown below, but several models are available for different needs.

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I hope this overview of the different methods of navigation have been helpful.

If you have any tips and tricks about navigation that you would like to share, feel free to do so in the comments below.

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