The New Shapes Window in Visio 2010

The Shapes Window has been redesigned in Visio 2010 to streamline the identification and use of shapes when creating diagrams. We've made several enhancements to make it easier to move from the initial "creation" phase to the "editing" phase of working with shapes. In this post, you'll learn all about the new features and how you can use them.


Stencil list view navigation

In the screenshot above, you'll see the new and improved UI for the Shapes Window. You can easily navigate between stencils by using the list view at the top of the window. This makes it easier to find and select the stencils you want and eliminates the problem of losing track of stencils, which were stacked at both the top and bottom of the Shapes Window in past releases. To open new stencils, you simply click on the "More Shapes" menu to choose from a wide variety of stencils.

Support for live rendering of master shapes

With live rendering, shapes are now drawn as they will appear when dropped on the page, with the current theme applied in full-color. This provides a more accurate preview of a shape's appearance before you select it for use in a diagram.

Support for re-ordering shapes

You can customize the order of shapes by simply dragging the icons to a new position in the stencil. By doing so, you can easily access the shapes you use most frequently together in one place. Modifications are persisted and will appear the next time you use the stencil.

Quick Shapes

Quick Shapes represent a subset of shapes that are more commonly used within a given stencil. The faint horizontal divider line shown in each open stencil indicates the division between Quick Shapes (above divider) and non-Quick Shapes (below divider). You can choose your own Quick Shapes by dragging the icon of a shape above the divider line.

You can also click on the new "Quick Shapes" view which generates a stencil showing all the Quick Shapes across your open stencils. This makes it easy to use common shapes across multiple stencils without having to switch between them.


Collapsed view

You can also collapse the Shapes Window, by toggling the small arrow on the top right of the window. This provides more screen space when working with large diagrams or on small monitors. The collapsed view can show all the shapes in the current stencil or just the shapes in the Quick Shapes view. The collapsed view is fully functional with the ability to drag and drop shapes.


Stay tuned for a future post that will cover the new AutoConnect functionality that ties into Quick Shapes for faster diagram creation.

We're interested in your feedback on the new Shapes Window in Visio 2010 Technical Preview, so use the Send a Smile feedback tool or comment on the blog to let us know what you think.

Comments (16)

  1. Alexander says:

    Great feature!

    And How interact with quick shapes programmatically?

  2. Paul O says:

    FYI – you guys did a really crap job with Visio 2010.  Whats new?  All you have done is make it look a bit fancier.  The built in stencils still resemble the Windows NT era.  Why bother even releasing such a crap product?  No wonder Apple is kicking your ass all over the shop floor…….


    A loyal Viso viewer (well, not anymore).

  3. Basti says:

    Sorry, I bought and installed Visio 2010 to get the BPMN shapes. Finally I had to go back to 2007 because there are to many bugs.

    1. No way to get rid of this annoying frame around shapes, even not when reducing the size of the canvas to the size of the drawing.

    2. No weird PDF output. Lines just missing the beginning of other lines, when using shapes that have round corners etc.…/6b8c04b7-8cff-442f-93c3-27e68b55e43f

    Scientific working has really become lame with Visio 2010. Hopefully some day Microsoft will test their products BEFORE releasing them!

  4. Chewbyka says:

    Just upgraded to Visio 2010 – what a disappointment, it does even have the standard Microsoft apps layout (where is the office button?) Doesn't seem to offer anything new that will actually be useful to draughters and real users

    I'm rolling back to 2007 – not the best but better than 2010

  5. Walt says:

    Where in the world did the facking shapes menu go?!  

  6. Bharat says:

    MS rocks in User friendly softwares .. but what the hell happened to Visio ?

    I am a expert user of most of ur products and greatly disappointed with Visio !

  7. Sean says:

    Why do Microsoft try and make things better but end up making things worse. As Walt says where did the shapes menu go

  8. $tudent at another M$DNAA college says:

    Grat job. All the people I know wor$hip and cheri$sh Micro$$oft for being $uch a $ucce$full organi$ation.

  9. Diana Ost says:

    But how do you remove shapes sections? I don't want all of them open every time, and it is totally non-intuitive to figure out how to close them. The Help is no help either. Will keep searching to see if I can find an answer. Really, I should be able to choose each time what I want–I don't need this level of "helping" because it's really annoying. I spend a lot of time looking for ways to "undo" all the "help" I get. I need to just do my work.

  10. Leon says:

    Hello.  I have yet to find how to open the Shapes Window.  I set the Advanced option to open it, but I cannot see it.  There is a lot of help on how to use the Shapes window, but no instructions on how to open it so one can use it.

  11. Karl says:

    Do you ever check these sites after you create them?  No one can seem to find the shape window you are talking about at the top and no one has replied.  I can't believe you have made it this difficult for your experienced users to find shapes to make a drawing.

  12. Alex says:

    Shapes are fine, but search is terrible. I'm wondering if Visio Developers use Visio for

    designing or do they use another application?

  13. Laith says:

    I just want a way to view all shapes: I often want shapes that are not categorized and frankly I would not know which category they belong. I have to open every stensil and view… Can a webpage be made where it has all shapes and exact name, so I can browse, copy name, paste in my search for shapes and done with it. For crying out loud, this is 2010 and still doing things like 1980 with DOS.

  14. Vernon says:

    After upgrading to Visio 2010, I too cannot find the shapes window or a way to open it. There is nothing in the help about opening it when it isn't already available.  Very frustrating!

  15. So Frustrated says:

    I've used Visio for drafting interfaces since 1999, and my last gig finally pushed me to the 2010 version. HOW FRUSTRATING!!!!

    The out-of-the-box stencils for Windows standards that made work so easy are GONE. I think they have to be there, for when I scrape around in search, I see results that I can't find in the other groupings. Like the other users here, I'm opening every single stencil (shape group) to try and find the hidden treasure.

    It seems like your team disconnected the back end from the front end. Much to the frustration of all drafters, regardless of discipline.

    I am holding on to my old computer that has Visio 2003, perhaps forever now. For the love of your users (and business longevity), please kick your product management team OUT, resurrect your old UX team, get rid of the horrible ribbon, and get Visio straightened out.

  16. sla797 says:

    Wow Visio team, can you see one single complimentary comment on this page? Thank you Bill Gates and Microsoft for making this time and materials consultant architect sooooo much more money than would normally be reasonable due to time spent wrangling your truly AWFUL product…

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