AutoConnect in Visio 2010

AutoConnect was a feature first introduced in Visio 2007. The original intent of the feature was to simplify the creation of connected diagrams such as business process flowcharts by accomplishing multiple tasks in a single action:

1. Dropping a new shape on the page.

2. Connecting the new shape to the original shape.

3. Aligning and spacing the new shape attractively with other shapes in the diagram.

The notable efficiency is that AutoConnect accomplishes these tasks without the need to switch to the Connector tool (and subsequently back to the Pointer tool).

In Visio 2010 we have extended AutoConnect to make the creation of connected diagrams even more efficient. Here’s a summary of the new features.

Adding a new connected shape from a stencil’s Quick Shapes

In many ways, AutoConnect’s core ability of adding new connected shapes works much the same as it did in Visio 2007 – with one very significant enhancement in Visio 2010. AutoConnect now allows you to choose from up to four Quick Shapes from the current stencil as the added shape.

Note: Quick Shapes represent a subset of shapes that are more commonly used within a given stencil. For more information on the new Quick Shapes feature in Visio 2010, see the earlier blog post concerning the new enhancements to the Shapes Window.


In the image above, when hovering over the AutoConnect arrow to the right of shape #1, a Mini Toolbar appears that contains the first four shapes from the Quick Shapes area of the active stencil in the Shapes window. As you point to a shape on the Mini Toolbar, a live preview of the shape and the connector is shown on the page. Clicking on the shape adds it to the page, connected, aligned, and spaced.

Connecting to another shape in the diagram

As you create and edit connected diagrams, very often the need is to connect one shape to another already on the drawing page. AutoConnect can simplify this task in a couple ways.


In the image above, AutoConnect automatically previews a connector between the original shape (#1) and a neighboring shape (#2) when hovering over the AutoConnect arrow. Clicking on the arrow completes the connection. The neighbor connect feature looks for a shape in close proximity in the direction of the respective AutoConnect arrow. (Note: The neighbor connect feature was not functional in the Tech Preview of Visio 2010 but will be fixed in the Visio 2010 Beta.)

But what if the intent is to connect shape #1 to shape #3? In Visio 2010 this can now be accomplished by simply dragging a new connector from any AutoConnect arrow.



In the sequence above, after hovering over the AutoConnect arrow to the right of shape #1, a connector is dragged to the target shape #3. The connector can be glued dynamically to shape #3 as shown or to a particular connection point if desired. Although the behavior while dragging is identical to that of the Connector tool, the important distinction is that switching to the Connector tool was not required and further diagram editing can continue with the Pointer tool.

As always, we're interested in your feedback on the enhancements we’ve made to AutoConnect, so use the Send a Smile feedback tool or comment on the blog to let us know what you think.

Comments (17)

  1. thenonhacker says:

    I experienced the Visio 2010 Tech Preview and I liked the improvements brought by the Ribbon UI.

    During the Tech Preview I sent a LOT of Smiles and Frowns for all Office 2010 apps (except Project 2010).

    I give the AutoConnect feature a SMILE!  🙂

    If keep on making improvements like that one, you could drastically eliminate some of the buttons in Visio. Everything feels integrated in the workspace.

    I look forward to the BETA (already registered).

  2. Visio User says:

    This feature should not be set to "On" by default as this easily corrupts very complex drawings. This has cost me a lot of rework – thank you for that.

  3. Ed says:

    I agree that auto connect can do great damage.  How do I turn it off?

  4. Dillon says:

    Auto Connect is making me insane.  I spend far more time unconnecting things than I do connecting them now.  I came across this page while looking for a way to turn it off.  I will keep looking …

  5. Thanga says:

    Tools -> Snap & Glue and disable Glue.. Your auto connect will be disabled…

    Have nice time

  6. Sarah says:

    It might have helped if you had told me about the checkbox on the View tab to make autoconnect work!

  7. tkb says:

    AutoConnect is a pain in the ar$e –  it should not be ON by default

  8. Gregski says:

    Extremely frustrating feature, sorry MS! Why can't we just have keyboard shortcuts for Connector and Pointer?

  9. Steve says:

    On Visio 2007 go to Options -> Tools -> General tab, and then un-check the Enable AutoConnect feature.

    Horrible feature….

  10. Kamil says:

    Visio 2010:

    Top Tab –> View –> Click the "Visual Aids" button to open a menu. This will open the "Snap $ Glue" feature. I have literally everything off. Over 9000 times easier now to draw network configurations.

  11. Guy Eschemann says:

    AutoConnect is one of those many "improvements" that make Visio 2010 completely unusable. Have you guys ever heard of usability testing?

  12. Tim says:

    I curse out loud over those dang blue arrows putting wires where none belong. THen I have to go on-line and find you guys for help to shut the stupid feature off. MS should employ some engineers before releasing this junk.

  13. TechWriter says:

    Autoconnect is helpful in my simple flowcharts — until it totally ceases to work! And I can't find any info about that at all. (Yes, I've got everything turned on that should be; the feature just isn't happening.)

  14. dee kay says:

    need to be able to shut off this annoying "feature"

  15. Kevin says:

    Get rid of auto connect or lose all of us to AutoCAD which allows us to do what we want not what Microsoft thinks we want.

  16. user says:

    I hate this feature and want to find steps to disable this function.

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