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10 ways to be more efficient in the new Visio

Whiteboard drawingThe new Visio has a variety of improvements designed to make your diagramming experience easier and more fluid. Below is a list of 10 new ways you can be more efficient in the new Visio. Give them a try the next time you create a diagram and see how much time you save.

If you don’t yet have the Visio Preview, you can find instructions for getting the preview here so that you can try the changes out for yourself.


1.  Duplicate Page

The ability to duplicate a page has been one of Visio’s most requested features, and we’re happy to announce it is now possible in the new Visio. Duplicate page provides you a fast and easy method, consistent with other Office apps like Excel, to copy not just shapes but also page properties from one page to another.

To use Duplicate page, simply right click the page you’d like to duplicate, and click “Duplicate”. The new duplicated page will be created and placed next to your original page.

Visio duplicate page

You can also access Duplicate page by going to the Insert tab, and selecting “Duplicate This Page” from the New Page dropdown menu.


2.  Change Shape

The new Visio introduces a “Change Shape” feature that enables you to swap out a selected shape or group of shapes in the drawing with another type of shape. The new shapes retain the position, connections, formatting, shape text, and/or shape data of the originals.

For example, let’s say you’ve created the following simple flowchart:

Visio change shape

However, your coworker noticed you used the wrong shape for the “Make a decision” step. Using Change Shape, you can swap the Process shape to a Decision shape with a single click. Just right-click the shape you want to change, select the Change Shape icon from the floatie, and choose the shape you want to replace with from the gallery provided. Hovering over shapes in the gallery will provide you with a live preview of the change so you can decide if it’s what you want before you click.

Visio change shape

Visio change shape

To learn more about this new feature, check out our Change shapes in Visio 2013 post.


3.  Match Shape Dimensions with Dynamic Grid

You now have a quick and easy way to make one shape the same size as another using dynamic grid. When you resize a shape (select the shape, then click and drag the white resize handles), matching dimensions found between shapes in your current view will be shown as green line segment overlays.

When you resize on one axis (e.g. just resizing the shape’s width), only matching dimensions on the same axis are shown. When resizing on two axes, both matching dimensions for width and height are displayed. Guides showing equal width will show up at the bottom of all the shapes, while guides showing equal height will appear on the right side of all the shapes.

Visio matching shape dimensions dynamic grid

4.  Alt+Drag Suspends Snap

Ever find yourself needing more precise control of a shape’s position? Holding down the Alt key while dragging a shape to move, rotate, or resize will suspend all forms of snapping, simulating the behavior if all checkboxes in the “Viewà Visual Aidsà Snap to” list were unchecked and giving you finer control over your shape’s position.

Alt+drag applies to 1D and 2D shapes, as well as multi-shape selections. It also applies to connectors, but they will still snap to glue targets.

Alt+drag also works in combination with Ctrl and Shift modifier keys for drag actions.

  • Move
    • Alt+Shift+Drag: non-snapping move in one direction
    • Alt+Ctrl+Drag: non-snapping copy
  • Resize
    • Alt+Shift+Drag side handle: non-snapping “resize from center”
    • Alt+Shift+Drag corner handle: non-snapping “resize in both dimensions”


5.  Improved “More shapes” stencil browse menu

The new Visio makes it easier for you to browse stencils and shapes through an improved More Shapes menu. Two main improvements have been made to accomplish this:

Open for exploration

The More Shapes browse menu now stays open after you open a stencil, great for when you’re not sure what stencil you need and you want to explore. We anticipate this will cause you to open more stencils, which could clutter your shapes window. To handle that, the new Visio also displays a checkmark next to stencils you have open and allows you to quickly open/close a stencil with a single click-keeping your stencil window organized as you explore.

Visio More Shapes browse menu

Filter for current drawing’s units

Note: only affects US (and Canadian) users.

The More Shapes browse menu now filters its results based on your current drawing’s unit selection, ensuring you choose a stencil with the correct units, resulting in shapes that look and behave great on your page. If your document is US, you will only see US stencils, and vice versa.


6.  Pasting Shapes

If you copy a shape and then paste it to another portion of your diagram where the original shape isn’t in view anymore, Visio will now paste that shape into the center of your current view. When you need to paste a shape to a distant location on your diagram, this feature is a time saver.


7.  Connect Shapes Easier: Improved Dynamic Glue

Dynamic glue frequently yields better-looking and lower-maintenance diagrams, and the new Visio has made the feature more discoverable for you by increasing the hit region to 100% of the shape’s bounding box, while still allowing static glue hit regions to take precedence.

Visio improved dynamic glue

This change means you don’t need to be as precise when dragging a connector to a shape, allowing you to work more efficiently.


8.  AutoConnect Hints: Sleep/Awake Mode

We’ve made it easier for you to add shapes, too. The Auto-Connect arrows, which allow you to quickly add or connect shapes, have been updated to be more responsive.

Visio Autoconnect hints sleep awake mode


When you’ve been using them they show up quickly (awake mode), but when you haven’t used them for a while, there is a delay before they pop up so they won’t get in your way (sleep mode).

This lets you build up a connected diagram without ever moving your mouse away from your diagram.


9.  Faster Dynamic Grid Guides

Dynamic grid guides now appear instantly, making it even faster for you to position a shape in relation to other shapes on the page.

To see the dynamic grid in action, simply drop a shape next to another shape and notice the green lines that automatically appear:

Visio faster dynamic grid guides

10.  Dynamic grid: Resize to alignment line

Now when you resize a shape, matching edges of other shapes will be shown to you as a line segment overlay via dynamic grid. This makes it even easier to make two shapes the same size.

Visio dynamic grid resize to alignment line

Notice how the center guide appears while resizing the bottom edge (above) and the bottom guide appears while resizing the bottom edge (below).

Dynamic grid: Resize to alignment line


While we couldn’t possibly list every improvement we’ve made to the new Visio’s user interface, we hope this list gave you an overview and insight into some of the noteworthy changes that were made. We understand sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference, and hope our changes will provide you a with more efficient diagramming experience than ever before

Have your own favorite tip for saving time while diagramming in Visio? Let us and others know by sharing it below in the comments!

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