5 Easy Ways to Find a Mate

If you’ve come here hoping for dating advice, I’m afraid I have none. Ladies, I’m sorry, I’m off the market. However, if it’s a SOLIDWORKS mate you are seeking, I can help with that.

For me, the scenario is usually as follows: Components are inserted into an assembly and are mated together one mate at a time. With the quick mating tools in SOLIDWORKS, components are assembled almost without thinking (I use ctrl+select primarily with an occasional alt+drag). At some point, I mate a component and it doesn’t fit. I realize that one of the mates I added (usually about 37 mates ago) was incorrect. This is no more than a mild nuisance because all I have to do in SOLIDWORKS is edit the mate, and correct my mistake. Now, I just have to find it…

Say I made a coincident mate that was intended to be a distance mate. I’ve got 156 mates in my top level assembly at the moment. 64 of them are coincident.

Which one of these 64 coincident mates was supposed to be a distance mate? How do I find it without scrolling through 156 mates?

In this article I’ll show you my 5 favorite ways to find a mate with ease.


1. Search the Whole Top Level Mate Folder

At first glance this seems like the worst option. And it is. However, I find it to be the most common solution users choose by FAR. Even if you want to stick with this option, there are a couple things you can do to make this process a bit less painful.

a. Expand the mate folder (left) and roll your mouse down through the list. Don’t watch the list, watch the graphics area. In the graphics area, you’ll see each mate highlight. Keep moving your mouse until you see the mate you’re looking for highlight. Then stop and edit the mate.

b. Search the tree (right). See that little funnel-looking icon at the top of the tree? That’s the search filter. Type in the kind of mate you’re looking for and it will exclude all other types. You’ve still got to identify which one it is, but at least we’ve narrowed the search. You’ll notice that this will search the top level mate folder as well as the components mate folders, which leads us to our next method.


top level mate folder

2. Search the Component Folder

Each component has its own folder containing the mates that apply to that component. This is a huge benefit because this narrows the search tremendously. Each component typically only has a handful of mates applied to it. This means we’ve reduced our search from 156 down to about 3. The only downside to this method is that the folder can be clumsy to access. If the component is in a subassembly it could be buried. Even if it’s not, you’ve still got to find the component in the tree, expand it and expand the mate folder. If you have “Scroll selected item into view” turned on in your options, you can select the component in the graphics area and it will find you the part in the tree, even if it is in a sub assembly.

Note: The option can be found under Tools > Options > FeatureManager > Scroll selected item into view. Once you’ve found the component, you’ll find a folder for mates right under the component name.

find mates

The next couple of options are the two that I personally use. They are essentially shortcuts to accessing this component mate folder.


3. View Mates

The View Mates tool has been around for quite a while but has grown in its capabilities over the years. To access this tool, select the component that the mate applies to in the graphics area.

From the in-context menu you will see View Mates.

view mates

View Mates brings the component mate folder to you.. All components mated to the selected component will appear in an isolated view. You’ll also see the list mates from which you can click and edit, suppress, or view errors.

The neat thing about the View Mates tool is that it also applies to multiple components with a ctrl+select, subassemblies with a right click> select subassembly, and other items such as sketches and planes used for mating.


view mates tool

4. Breadcrumbs 

If you’re a 2016 user, you now have access to mates quicker than any of these options. Breadcrumbs brings these items to you with nothing more than a click of the mouse and a whack of the keyboard. Simply select a component and hit the “D” key on your keyboard. Breadcrumbs will be there with bells on, ready to help you find what you’re after. If I’m Iron Man, Breadcrumbs is Jarvis. (Superhero references are allowed here. Remember this is CAD advice, not dating advice. Just try not to confuse the two!)

With no further digging, Breadcrumbs presents the applicable mates for us to select and edit directly. This is my preferred method as it requires zero mouse travel and gets me what I need instantly.


5. Save it for Later

My last option is for cases where you are returning to the same mate multiple times. This is often the case in scenarios where you’re adjusting an angle mate or distance mate multiple times. (If you’re doing this just for positional changes and want to store that data, I recommend using the new Mate Controller in 2016.) If this is the case, I use the Favorites folder. To add a mate to the Favorites folder, simply find the mate (using any one of the first 4 options), right click the mate, and look for the folder with a star icon with the option “Add to Favorites.” This will add that mate to the Favorites folder at the top of the assembly tree. From there you can quickly access it again and again.

I hope these tips help you find a mate faster than you thought possible. And for those of you looking for a mate of a more personal kind… maybe it’s time to give a SOLIDWORKS user group meeting a try!

Happy mating.


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