Week #15 – Advanced Selection and Editing
15-2. Power Selection Techniques

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 15-2)

This 44 minute lesson covers a wide range of powerful methods for selecting elements quickly and precisely.


The Edit menu > Select All command has many variations:

  • Arrow tool active -> select all elements visible in the current window
  • Marquee tool placed in the window -> select all elements within the marquee
  • Element tool (e.g. Wall, Window) active -> select all of that type of element
  • Combination (marquee drawn, element tool active) -> select all of that type of element within the marquee area

Elements will be selected if they are partially within the marquee, but if the Arrow tool Selection Method is set to Complete Elements, then only elements that are totally enclosed by the marquee will be selected.


You can access Find and Select from the Edit menu or by the keyboard shortcut Command-F / CTRL-F. You can manually adjust the settings to specify particular element types as the criteria for selection, or use the eye-dropper to pick up the information from an existing element. You may make the criteria more selective by adding items to the Criteria Set; generally, each item you add will make the selection more specific. However, in some cases you may add the same criteria type more than once (e.g. Layer) to get a broader selection (e.g. Layer = Base Cabinets OR Wall Cabinets).

Criteria Sets can be saved locally and reused whenever convenient. In a Teamwork project, Criteria Sets may be used to specify which elements are going to be reserved for use by a team member.


While Find and Select records a Criteria Set you can use at any time to select elements that match particular factors, the Selection palette will record an actual group of elements that are currently selected. Sometimes it takes time to select a particular batch of elements, and the Selection palette can save time when one wants to work on them at a later time.

The Selection palette can list many different saved Selections, and offers a unique “Intersect” option. This allows you to use one selection item (or manually select elements through any other method) then intersect that set with another selection in the list (e.g. select a group of elements, then reduce that selection to only those elements that are also included in another listed selection set).


At any given time, one may have multiple types of elements selected. If one wants to change an attribute of all of these elements (for example, put them on a certain layer), one cannot always do this with the popup layer menu in the Info Box, since this will only affect items of one specific type (e.g. only the walls, or only the lines, etc.). To modify all the elements at once, use the Edit menu > Element Settings > Edit Selection Set command or click the icon to the left of the Layer popup menu which will bring up the same command dialog box.

In the Edit Selection Set dialog, one may change the layer or main pen color of all selected elements. One will also see a list of how many items of which types are currently selected (e.g. 18 walls, 10 objects, etc.) which may sometimes be useful for double-checking what one has selected. In ArchiCAD 15, new options have been added to Edit Selection Set including setting Renovation categories and Structural classifications.


The QuickSelect magnet is virtually essential in the 3D window, since it allows one to easily select elements simply by clicking on their surface, rather than having to find a node corner point or an edge that ArchiCAD recognizes. However, sometimes it is useful to turn off QuickSelect in order to select elements on the other side of a window (since with QuickSelect active, the window will always get selected rather than the interior object one might try to click on).

In 3D, the Marquee tool has some special geometry options that allow it to describe a volume in space for selection or modification. This volume is drawn on a base plane, usually Project 0, then extruded up or down in a follow-up click. To draw the marquee with a base at a different elevation, one may use the Gravity option in the Toolbar, selecting Gravitate to Roof, Gravitate to Slab etc.

The final geometry option for the Marquee tool in 3D is a Flat rectangle. When one uses that, ArchiCAD will select the graphics within the rectangle for copying to the clipboard. With the standard OpenGL mode of the 3D window, this will copy a screenshot for possible pasting onto the plan or a worksheet or a layout (or indeed, into another drawing or word processing program).

By switching to the View menu > 3D View Mode > Internal 3D Engine, one may use this Flat marquee option to copy actual linework and fills to use in construction drawings. This may be a top (plan) or side (elevation) view, or by using the View menu > Navigation Extras > Look to Perpendicular of Clicked Surface, one may actually copy a dimensionable view of a roof or other slanted surface. Various options are available when using the Copy command to control whether linework and/or fill polygons are included.

One special trick is demonstrated at the end of this lesson. After pasting elements, ArchiCAD does not keep them selected. To select them after pasting can sometimes be awkward or tedious. A quick shortcut is to Undo, then immediately Redo (not Paste again). The elements that have been “Redone” will end up selected with handles, which allows you to move or change their attributes (such as layer) with ease.

Please post your comments and questions below.


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 TOPIC: ArchiCAD Power Selection Techniques

Let us know how you feel... (4 comments so far)

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  1. Marko
    11 years ago

    How can I select objects by material in Archicad? Many times I need to select all objects with same material but don’t know how. Thanks.

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Hi Marko –

      In the Find and Select dialog you can choose Material as a criteria, however it won’t work across different tools very well, and it likely will only select based on the primary face of the element (reference line side of the wall, or top face of slab or roof).

      There is a plugin from Cigraph called ArchiMaterials – http://www.cigraph.it/en/node/323 (part of their ArchiSuite – http://www.cigraph.it/en/node/101) that is able to do more manipulations based on material, but I’ve never used it.


  2. Avatar photo
    11 years ago

    Thanks for this Eric, it takes me way beyond ‘Command – A’ which is all I have been using! 🙂

  3. TakisApostolides
    12 years ago

    as usual you always suprising with your superb teaching
    many thanks.