Category Archives: Find and Select

Collision Detection

With the increase in MEP and Structural integration into our ARCHICAD models, we have started to explore the Collision Detection features in ARCHICAD. These have been baked into our template and explained in the BIM manual. For those who may be interested in trying this feature out, but are not using the current template, this video explains the settings:

Selecting Elements

Working efficiently in ARCHICAD is critical, but not always easy. There are so many ways to model or draw everything, it is hard to know if you are using the most stream lined process.

A few things can help speed up your modeling and navigation work. In a series I am working on for the next Lunch and Learn presentation, we are going to explore the following:

  1. Efficiently Selecting ARCHICAD elements
  2. Isolating portions of a view
  3. Editing elements and groups of elements
  4. Efficient modeling
  5. Efficient drafting and drawing

The first series is covered here in the following videos:

Selecting Elements –

1) Find and Select

2) Selections Palette

3) Arrow Tool Options

4) Marquee Tool Options

5) Selecting Elements by Tool or Element Type

Pen 0 and Pen -1

Pen 0 and Pen -1 have specific functions, as background pens for fills; to show transparent or solid white but matches the background (regardless of work environment customization of the background color).

These pens can be a bit dangerous if applied to anything but the background pen of a fill or cut element.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 7.42.40 AM.png

In the case of a file audited this morning, there were over 500 3d elements using Pen -1 as the foreground and, in some cases, the contour pen of model elements. This resulted in a file prone to crashes, and lengthy error warning cycles.

I was able to fix these by using a combination of the element ID manager and the Find and Select tool. Read about that here.

In the end, it is best to avoid pens -1 and 0 whenever possible. Pen -1 should be replaced in your workflow habits with pen 91 or 51. Those pens are always white for all pen sets. In many cases, especially with drafting and cover fills, pen 0 is unavoidable, but should still be used carefully, so as to not apply it to anything other than background pen settings.

Another Case for the Element ID Manager

I know I have discussed the need for unique element ID’s several times. Today I came across a great use of the Element ID Manager to assign unique ID’s and track down elements with degenerated polygons.

The project had an error report showing 4 elements with degenerated polygons, all using the element ID CASEWORK.

01 Error Report.png

The problem came when doing a find and select for elements using that ID, I found that there were 1,147 non-object based elements with that ID. From the report, I know that the elements are not objects. They would include object name.gsm before the (ELEMENT ID) in the report if they were object based errors. This allowed me to refine my find and select criteria to elements that were not objects only.

02 Find and Select.png

Once the Element ID Manager set unique ID’s for all elements previously called CASEWORK, I was able to track down 2 unique problem elements in the report (2 in the hotlink module, 2 in the building document model).

03 After Element ID Manager.png

Using the same Find & Select criteria, I pinpointed the problem to 2 slabs with less than 3 nodes; basically 0 width slabs. Since these were remnants of an edited (probably split or resized) slab; the solution was simply to delete these slabs.

04 Finding the Errors.png


Find and Select – Selected & Editable

Find and Select is one of the coolest tools in ARCHICAD, if used correctly. You can read more about it here.

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 11.40.03 AM

One really cool feature of the find and select palette has been proving to be incredibly useful recently though. I have been doing some line work clean up for DWG export from work sheets. Using a series of stored step by step find and select criteria, I have been able to consolidate line work, fills, convert to pLines, and more; with incredible efficiency. I can also preview the clean up process efficiency right in the F&S palette; so when I run a line consolidation, I can see how many lines I have before unifying into polylines, or how many fills I have before and after consolidation.

The Selected/Editable indicator also gives an idea of elements locked or not reserved, which makes the clean up more effective; as it helps avoid running a line work consolidation with elements that can not be modified.

It’s a small thing, but a huge indicator in terms of cleanness of the final output.

Efficient Selection & Editing

There are dozens of ways to make selections (of tools and placed elements) in ArchiCAD, and some are better for certain functions or results. Some of the key methods of selecting elements are:

There are many combinations of each of the selection methods listed above that can improve efficiency in editing elements too.

Example 1: use the Filter and Cut Elements In 3D settings to isolate out just windows and doors in 3d, then use Find & Select to further isolate only widows of a certain size or location for editing will quickly narrow down for global changes to these windows only.

Example 2: Use the Filter & Cut Elements option to isolate a range of stories of the model in 3D, then use the Eyedropper to activate the Object tool, then use a Select All to select the objects visible in the 3D window.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but when used efficiently it is a huge time savings over tediously trying to track down specific elements, or selecting one at a time or even in small groups. Here is a quick (±8 minute) video of some of the features listed above


When you edit multiple door and windows you can have unforeseen consequences. For example, if the window type and sash layouts are different, changes to the sash layout, surface or style may not be applied to all windows or all sash groups.

In the following screen shots you can see a change to the sash grid applied to a 2x wide sash window and a single width unit. Applying a sash grid to both window types simultaneously not only has no effect on the double width sash, but also causes an error message for degenerated polygons (The sash is part of the windows 3d script, but ArchiCAD basically doesn’t  understand how to interpret it).

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.45.52 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.46.23 PM

The solution is in the Find and Select function. By selecting all windows that are two sashes wide, or windows greater than 4′-0″ in rough opening width, and changing them first; then selecting all windows less than 4′-0″ in rough opening width and changing them separately you get all sashes matching. This is slightly more time consuming, but it does make the changes work the first time and avoids the error reports.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.48.14 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 1.49.09 PMAlso seen recently by project teams has been a universal change to the door hardware location in Cadimage doors, universally for all door types. The result was, unlike the windows, the hardware was correctly relocated, but the door frames adopted the frame settings of other doors. The solution is to change door or window settings by wall type as well as door or window type, when the wall type impacts the trim or reveal of the door or window settings.

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 2.03.33 PM

This is yet another reason to become familiar with find and select and use it often. It is a great tool to speed up productivity as well as keep your model clean and error free.


Recently a question about beam and roof matching has come up. For example, if you place a roof at a 4.75:12 slope, your beam would need to be 21.5953º (and that is missing a few digits) to get close to matching. In the beam settings this would round to 21.60º by default, since we are only able to place beams to a two digit precision.

To match a beam precisely to the roof slope you will need a working section through the roof showing the full length of the roof and beam in an orthogonal elevation view.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 8.14.47 AM

Start by aligning the top node of the bottom slope end of the beam with the appropriate skin or core line of the roof (this does not need to be an end node of the roof, but does need to be snapped to the roof skin separator line). Next select the top node of the top slope end of the beam and select the “modify angle” button on the pet pallet. Last move the top node to the same line as the bottom node previously aligned. Note that you will get a checkbox or solid pencil symbol next to the cursor when you are snapped to the line.

The beam settings will still show as rounding to the nearest two decimal places, but the beam will perfectly align with the roof slope no matter how close you zoom in. From here it is a simple eye-dropper and inject command to get the other beams elevations and slopes to match.

I would also like to mention one more time, this is another reason it is critical to give similar or identical items a common element ID to differentiate them from other elements. Using the find and select tool for all beams with an ID of “Typical Rafter” and a beam width of x” will allow you to quickly isolate the beams that need to be modified to match the one that now aligns with the roof.


General Thoughts on Using Find and Select

The Find and Select Palette is a huge time saver in selecting, editing, deselecting and isolating objects.  There are several great resources out there to learn the find and select tool better.  Jared of Shoegnome wrote a post for Graphisoft’s blog that gives some great advice and tips on uses for the tool.

Graphisoft help center has the definitive resource on the features of the tool.  If you get nothing else from this post, read that link and learn how to store, import and export criteria.  This ensures that when you have a list of criteria that effectively makes a selection you need to repeat you will have direct access to it.

Why is Saving Criteria Important?

There are many reasons you may want to store and access criteria quickly.  The example I came across today, and the reason for writing this post, is as follows: For a remodel job I found myself repeatedly selecting the “new” doors.  This is a relatively quick criteria to set up.  When I found myself selecting all new slabs and all new exterior walls it became clear that I needed some renovation specific criteria.  For a project involving no renovation filter it is certainly less of an issue, but if you need to exclude cased openings or select doors on exterior walls only or select all furniture on a specific layer you can see why having some pre-saved criteria can be a significant time savings over the length of the project.

favorites criteria

Take some time and play around with the selection criteria, read Jared’s post and improve your efficiency. Even if you “waste” 15 minutes getting to know the find and select function better it will save you hours in the end!