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Last update: August 12, 2022

Boolean shortcuts in Blender with the bool tools add-on

If we are relying on a lot of booleans for a project, it can be nice to have a workflow where we don't manually have to add boolean modifiers to our objects through the modifier tab every time. Luckily, there is a built-in add-on to help us with this called bool tools.

After activating the bool tools add-on, select two objects and press Ctrl + - or + or * or / on the numpad to make a boolean operation.

Let's go into a bit more detail about how bool tools work and how we can best utilize the shortcuts it gives us for Booleans along with the extra slice tool provided.

Related content: How to use boolean modifier in Blender

Just for clarification, in this article I will refer to the target object or target mesh as the object that has the boolean modifier in its stack. The boolean object is the object that is used as the object in the boolean modifier settings.

Let's dive in.

How to enable and setup Bool tool in Blender

To enable bool tools we go to Edit->Preferences in the menu. Find the add-on section and in the search, field start to type "bool tool". The add-on list will filter as you type. When you see the bool tool add-on check the box on the left side to enable it.

Bool tool has some preferences we can change. The first one is the tab name. This is the name of the tab in the right-side N-panel that the bool tool operators will appear.

We can keep it as Edit to have bool tool in its own tab, or we can change this to something like "Tool" to have it appear in the tools tab together with the active tool settings.

With a lot of add-ons the N-panel tabs can get quite crowded with limited options to shorten it.

Next, we have two settings. Fast transformation adds an option in the bool tools N-panel section where we can toggle fast transformations. When this is active and while transforming a boolen object, the target objects visibility will go back to its original shape during the operation. Without this active, we get real time feedback in the viewport how the boolean will interact with the target object.

In other words, a minor thing if you are not doing booleans with complex objects that take a very long time to continuously update the shape for real time feedback.

Then we also have the display as wireframe checkbox. This makes it so that the boolean object is displayed as wireframe instead of bounding box. With dense meshes, this can be hard to visualize. But with simpler but organic shapes it can help to see what we are doing.

Related content: Boolean modifier problems and how to solve them

Brush booleans vs auto booleans in bool tools

In the bool tools add-on we have two kinds of modes for making booleans. Auto booleans and brush booleans.

The difference here is that an auto boolean will do the boolean operation and apply the boolean modifier that it relies on. So, it is quick, but you have no option to adjust afterwards.

The brush boolean keeps the modifier around and you can still adjust the boolean object.

List of Boolean shortcuts using Bool tool

Here is a complete list of the bool tools shortcuts.

Bool tools menu

  • Ctrl+Shift+B - bring up the bool tool menu at the mouse cursor

Bool tools auto booleans

  • Shift+Ctrl+Numpad - - Difference boolean operation with applied modifier
  • Shift+Ctrl+Numpad + - Union boolean operation with applied modifier
  • Shift+Ctrl+Numpad * - Intersect boolean operation with applied modifier
  • Shift+Ctrl+Numpad / - Slice operation with applied modifier

Bool tools brush booleans

  • Ctrl+Numpad - - Difference boolean operation without applied modifier
  • Ctrl+Numpad + - Union boolean operation without applied modifier
  • Ctrl+Numpad * - Intersect boolean operation without applied modifier
  • Ctrl+Numpad / - Slice operation without modifier
  • Ctrl+Numpad enter - With a boolean object selected apply its modifier on the target object
  • Ctrl+Shift+Numpad enter - With multiple boolean object selected, apply all modifiers on target object and remove the boolean objects

When using brush booleans and you apply the modifier with Ctrl+Numpad enter, the boolean object will remain, but Blender will throw a python error if you move the boolean object. So, if you need this object, I would create a duplicate before applying it and delete the one used for the boolean operation.

What is the slice operator?

Bool tools give us an extra operation that is closely related to booleans. It will take the mesh of a cutting object that intersect with a target object and slice it along that edge into two pieces.

Here we have two cubes from the start. The large cube that we cut into and the one shown in wireframe. When selecting the cube shown in wireframe first and then the large cube and pressing Ctrl + num /, Bool tool will create a new cube from the mesh inside the wireframe cube.

On the outer cube a booolean modifier set to difference is used and on the new inner cube, a boolean modifier set to intersect is added. We can still change the cut by moving the wireframe cube.

How to change Bool tool Boolean shortcuts?

In the add-ons tab in the preferences, we can view the shortcuts used by bool tool. But to change them we need to go to the keymap section in the preferences instead.

Here we can search for "bool" and we will find all the shortcuts listed for bool tools except for the two apply options for brush booleans.

To find them, set the search to key-binding and type "ctrl enter" and both of them will be filtered out.

To change any of these key bindings, click on the shortcut listed and then choose a new shortcut combination.

To restore a shortcut press the arrow next to the shortcut that appears for any changed shortcut.

Related content: How to add a shortcut in Blender

Final thoughts

In this article we learned how we can use bool tool, a built-in add-on for Blender that allow us to work quicker with Booleans using shortcuts. We looked at its additional operator, slice, and went through a list of all shortcuts added by the bool tool add-on along with its settings.

Bool tool is a simple add-on to use once you have experimented with it a bit and it can quickly add value to your workflow.

Thanks for your time

Written by: Erik Selin

Editor & Publisher

Erik Selin
3D artist, writer, and owner of artisticrender.com

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