Learning shortcuts need to be carried out often is crucial for saving time for more important tasks. And what's one of the most repetitive tasks while modeling in Blender? That's right- switching between vertex, edge, and face select modes.
In the latest Blender version, in edit mode, use the number row 1, 2, and 3 keys to choose between vertex, edge, and face select modes. Hold shift while pressing multiple numbers to enter multiple selection modes at once. For Blender 2.79 and earlier, use Ctrl+Tab while in edit mode to show a list of all three select modes.
These shortcuts can prove to be lifesavers in terms of quick switching between different selection modes while working. But what about alternate shortcut options? Let's take a look at some of those now.
When working on a laptop, we might be using the emulate numpad option. In that case, the shortcuts for switching selection modes are instead used for switching views that normally is done with the numpad.
In those cases we need an alternative
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Here are two options:
The quick favorites menu is accessed by pressing Q on the keyboard. By default, this menu is empty, but we can add the selection modes to this menu for quick access.
To add each of the three modes to the quick favorite's shortcut, simply right-click on the mode in the top-left corner of the 3D viewport and select 'Add to Quick Favorites'.
Note that each of the vertex, edge, and face select modes need to be added to quick favorites separately in the same way.
Now you can press Q and choose your selection mode from the menu.
Also note that if you hold shift while selecting from the menu you will add and remove selection options just like when holding shift and clicking in the header.
One downside to adding these select modes to quick favorites is the naming system. Unfortunately, all three select modes are generically given the same name, 'Select Mode', although hovering over the options does reveal which is vertex, edge, and face select.
Therefore, the order you add them is important, the first mode you add will be the first in the list. So, I would suggest adding them in the order from vertex, edge and last face so that we don't have to rely on the name of the menu items since they will all be the same.
For each of the three modes, a small underlining can be seen underneath one of the letters. This letter can be used as a shortcut to quickly select any of the three modes from the quick favorites list. But these shortcuts are auto generated and, in this case, doesn't make much sense.
Blender does not yet have a feature to change the names of these quick-favorite items. Hence, if we are picky, it might be better to change the shortcut key like shown below.
Alternatively, it is also possible to assign a new shortcut to each of the three select modes. One way to do this is by right-clicking on the mode you'd like to assign a shortcut to, select 'Assign Shortcut', and press the key(s) you'd like to assign.
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Another way to assign shortcut keys is by changing the Blender preferences. To do this, go to Edit > Preferences > Keymap. Here, enter 'Select Mode' in the search bar set to 'Name' search.
Multiple options should pop up to change the vertex, edge, and face select modes for a Grease Pencil workspace, working with meshes, or working with UVs.
The one you are most likely looking for is in the mesh section and it is the first three options set to 1, 2 and 3 for vertex, edge and face select in that order.
Click on the current shortcut for each of the vertex, edge, and face select modes and press on any new key or combination of keys to assign it to each mode.
For easiest usability, assign the same shortcut for the same select mode in each of the editors. For example, if you assign the shortcut Alt+1 for vertex select mode while editing meshes, assign the same shortcut for vertex select in grease pencil and UV editor as well for consistency.
One example could be assigning Alt+1, Alt+2, and Alt+3 to vertex, edge, and face select modes since they are not in use.
To check if a shortcut you have assigned is already in use, change the search bar type to 'Key-Binding' and enter the key you'd like to check. Entering anything with Ctrl, Alt, or Shift requires typing out the words along with a space and the second key. For example, Alt+1 would be entered as 'alt 1'.
If you have multiple selection modes active at the same time. The context menu accessed with Right-click will adapt and show you all the context menus side by side.
Sometimes it is more efficient with multiple selection modes active at once. For example, you might want to select certain edges and faces simultaneously. Rather than selecting each of the edges of one face, it becomes easier to be able to select both edges and faces with just a few clicks.
But keep in mind that the context menu becomes much bigger and can be hard to navigate.
Also, if any actions in the face context menu aren't plausible with the current selection, it will not do anything. For example, when both vertex and face select modes are active but only certain vertices are selected, the face context menu will show an option for triangulating faces. However, since there are no faces selected, this action does nothing.
When in face select mode, or even when multiple selection modes are active, it might become difficult to see and select certain faces, but there is an easy fix for this. In the overlay menu in the top right corner of the 3D viewport, we can enable 'Center' - this makes a dot appear at the center of each face for easier visibility.
Related content: How to use 3D viewport overlays in Blender 3D
We've looked at the shortcuts available for switching between vertex, edge, and face select modes, as well as how to assign new shortcuts or add these features to the quick favorite's menu. Using these features as well as the ability to enable multiple select modes at once should get you one step closer to the perfectly efficient Blender workflow!
Thanks for your time.