The Quick Search functionality introduced to PDM with SOLIDWORKS 2020 is brilliant for quickly and easily locating the files you’re looking for. But did you know that you can customize the functionality to further advance your options? Do a setup that reflects your preferences? Today, we’ll take a look at the basics of Quick Search but also how to work with variables, conditions and shortcuts.
We’ll take a look at these 5 options:
Getting started with basic Quick Search
One of the advantages with SOLIDWORKS PDM has always been the possibility to search for files using the metadata of your choice by using the integrated search tool, that has been a part of PDM since the beginning. By using this search tool, you can combine criteria in several ways and thus make very advanced and accurate searches.
But in practice most searches made in PDM is just simple searching for a file name/number or description and then maybe it feels like it is a bit too many clicks to get the results from these kinds of simple searches.
So, to simplify the daily work for almost any user of PDM, the Quick Search was introduced in SOLIDWORKS 2020. In my opinion this is one of the best and most useful functions that has been implemented in the last couple of years.
That’s why I want to encourage all of you who still don’t use Quick Search to start using it by showing you how to set it up and use it in your daily work. For those of you that are already using Quick Search there will be some more advanced examples at the end of the post.
First of all, you always find your Quick Search in the top right corner of your Windows Explorer PDM interface, and with no configuration you can start searching for files based on their names.
If you click the small arrow to the right of the search box, you can see a few options. For example you can select from searching in current folder, with or without subfolders, or all folders in the vault. You can also see that when quick search is not configured you can only search for files based on their names since this is the only entry as ‘Search For’ criteria.
Add more variables to your search options
To be able to search in more variables in Quick Search you must set this up in your Administration Tool. Once you have started the tool, expand the Lists node, right-click Quick Search Variable List and select New List.
In the Dialogue window you firstly name your list, and then click the Add button and select which variable you want to be able search for. Optionally give this variable a more descriptive name that is shown in the list, and don’t forget to set the permissions to use this Quick Search list for the relevant users and groups.
You may add up to a maximum of 5 variables to the list. Then the Add button turns grey and you can’t add any more. This is intended behavior, so the functionality don’t get too complicated and live up to its name: Quick Search.
When this is set up and you log in to the vault you can now access these variables and choose in which of them you want to search. PDM will show you results wherever it matches your search string.
Another advantage with Quick Search is that it remembers your latest searches, so by just clicking in the search field you can select a commonly used search criteria from the list without having to type anything.
The above scenario is probably the most common use of Quick Search. By adopting this functionality you can save time and be more efficient in your everyday PDM work. But of course, you can do more advanced searches as well in Quick Search.
Utilize conditions when searching
If you enter more than one word in the search field the default operator is the AND condition so to give a hit all words entered must be found. You can of course also write AND in clear text to visualize the search even better, but the result will be the same.
Naturally you can use the OR condition and the NOT condition in similar ways.
If using the conditions in clear text (i.e typing AND, OR, NOT) be sure to write it in capital letters otherwise it will be interpreted as part of the search string.
Instead of using clear text for the conditions you may use the symbols according to the following table instead:
Activate multi-variable search
As seen in these examples, PDM only combines the entered criteria in one of the variables from the list even though we may have selected two or more variables to search in. PDM will by default only search in all selected variables until the first hit is found, then combine the criteria in this variable only.
The trick for activating multi-variable search is to enter a colon sign (:) in front of the searches. Then PDM will combine all search criteria in all selected variables. So it may be good practice to always enter a colon in front of your advanced searches to get the results that you expect. If I leave out the colon in the below search, I will get no results at all, but with the colon present I will get the result I am looking for.
Use shortcuts to speed up your search
To speed up your searches even further I recommend you make use of the keyboard shortcuts available for Quick Search as seen in the table below.
My personal favorite is the use of the Escape-key to close the search, which one will be yours?
Make variable lists for users and groups
As mentioned in the text above, there is a limitation of adding 5 variables of your choice to the Quick Search drop-down list, but what if you think this is not enough?
As a last bonus tip, you can accomplish this not by entering more in one list, but by creating another list and give the same user or group access to more than one list. Then the variables from all these lists will be added to the Quick Search drop down.
Make the most of your PDM setup
If you have not started using Quick Search yet, you should do so right away to streamline your everyday workflow in PDM. If you already are using Quick Search, take it to the next level by using Boolean operators and multi-variable searches. That way Quick Search becomes even quicker.
Go ahead and customize the functionality to advance your options and achieve a setup that reflects your preferences.
Want more tips & tricks on PDM?
This ebook, written by some of the best experts we have on the subject, is quite a cheatsheet and gives you a nice overview of how to work smarter.