Week #15 – Advanced Selection and Editing
15-1. Advanced Element Selection and Interactive Editing

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 15-1)

This 29 minute lesson starts with a quick review of ArchiCAD basics, the use of the Arrow tool and Shift-key for selection, then moves into some of the more advanced and subtle options available to speed your work. Stretching the model with the Marquee tool is also discussed at length.


When the QuickSelect option for the Arrow tool (the magnet icon in the Info Box) is active, you may select elements by clicking anywhere inside their boundaries; when it’s turned off, you may select only by clicking on the node points (where you get a checkmark cursor) or the edges of linear elements (walls, lines, arcs, polylines, etc.) or polygon elements (slabs, roofs, fills, zones, etc.), where you see a Mercedes cursor.

You may turn on and off QuickSelect in the Info Box when the Arrow tool is active and nothing is selected, and may also use the Space-bar keyboard shortcut at any time (press and hold the Space bar to toggle the QuickSelect option for the Arrow tool or the temporary Arrow you get while holding down the Shift key).


Sometimes new users are confused about when they should left-click on the node or edge of an element that is already selected, bringing up the pet palette, and when they should right-click on an element to bring up the context menu.

The differences in options are explained in this lesson, and a shortcut is shown: one doesn’t have to have pre-selected an element in order to use the right-click context menu – simply by hovering over the element and right-clicking, ArchiCAD will immediately select the element and then bring up the context menu in a single action.


The selection rectangle appears when you use the Arrow tool and click in “empty space” or (with QuickSelect turned off) in the middle of elements but NOT on a node point. There are many options for this selection area that are explained in this lesson, including selection methods (partially enclosed, fully enclosed, or context-dependent – which switches depending on whether you go from left to right or right to left) and geometry (polygon, rectangle, or rotated rectangle).


The Marquee tool is very versatile. In this lesson, I show how to use it for stretching and relocating parts of the model. While one can execute a Stretch from the Edit menu > Reshape > Stretch command, it is much faster to do this with a mouse gesture. Simply make sure that the Marquee tool is active in the Toolbox, then click on any node or edge point of an element within the marquee area to begin the Stretch operation.

The lesson explains the difference between the thin marquee (affecting elements on the current story only) and the thick marquee (affecting all stories), and how to restrict the stretch or relocation effect by locking individual elements or layers.

Node points of linear and polygon elements will reposition with the stretch in an intuitive manner – whatever is enclosed will move, whatever is outside the marquee will remain fixed. Windows and doors behave differently than these linear elements: if they are totally enclosed, they will move, while if they are partially enclosed, they will stay fixed; in no case will they resize. Objects and stairs will move if partially or fully enclosed by the marquee; they will not resize or stretch.

The Tracker may be used to input an offset to make the stretch operation a specific distance in space. In addition, the Tracker will perform some basic arithmetic operations, so it is possible to use the marquee with the tracker to resize parts of the building to desired nominal dimensions by moving the marquee to a reference location, then typing in the offset amount and a “minus” sign (“-“).

NOTE: In U.S. measurements, because a “dash” is the same keyboard character (“-“) and can be used as a separator between feet and inches, it is necessary to input two dashes to trigger this subtraction offset. One of these can be part of the dimension entered (e.g. 10-6) in which case a single dash as a suffix will work (e.g. 10-6-); if there is no dash entered for the distance, then one can simply enter two dashes to force ArchiCAD to accept the subtraction (e.g. 10– would be the same as 10-0-, moving the cursor 10 feet and 0 inches back in the opposite direction).

The Marquee can be drawn using rectangle (most common) as well as polygon or rotated rectangle options, which are helpful for controlling the area that is affected by editing operations.

Please post your comments and questions below.


Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course
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TOPIC: ArchiCAD Advanced Element Selection and Interactive Editing

Let us know how you feel... (10 comments so far)

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  1. BinhNguyen
    10 years ago

    Tks, i cant watch

    • Eric Bobrow
      10 years ago

      Binh – I’m confused – are you thanking me because now you CAN watch the video, or are you still experiencing an issue with this lesson? – Eric

  2. BinhNguyen
    10 years ago

    Hi Eric
    I can’t watch this video
    It did not appear
    Please help me
    I’m only one day member

    • Eric Bobrow
      10 years ago

      Binh – I checked and this lesson had not been set up properly for the new ArchiCAD Training Passes. I have corrected the issue, and you should be able to watch the video now.

  3. MichaelBorden
    11 years ago

    hi Eric, Finally getting to this!! love it. thanks, mb

  4. DavidParsons
    12 years ago


    I have once more soaked up these editing methods and will no doubt in the future use some ot the options that I was totally unaware of.

    My time was well spent on this topic.

    Thanks again

  5. MarekSolarz
    12 years ago


    That minus thing for stretching and moving elements to be a certain distance from other points is so great that my jaw dropped after seeing it!
    As always it’s well worth a look at your tutorials and I’m thrilled to see more of them.

    Thank you!

  6. Eric Bobrow
    12 years ago

    Thank you Chris and William for your kind words!
    I’m glad you are finding these lessons useful in improving your productivity!

  7. Avatar photo
    12 years ago

    Eric, although we generally know these features are there. We often need reminding that there are many ways to do things. We get set in a way of doing things like selecting items because we are comfortable with it. Your lesson will certainly speed up my work flow.
    Yet again you have shown me the scope of the archicad tools I am still not utilising after years with the software
    Chris Sinkinson

  8. WilliamButtmi
    12 years ago

    Eric, These are really great tips for being much more productive. Thank You!