I don't want to hit you, Visio, but I will if I have to.
August 21, 2012 11:12 AM   Subscribe

How do I add a whole lot of pictures to Visio 2010?

I've just taken over some new duties at work, and it involves using Visio 2010 a lot more than I have in the past. My former Visio use was limited to shop drawings and wiring diagrams, but now I am creating some more presentable stuff that goes out to customers. Some of this stuff needs me to add dozens of premade pictures to a page, and this is rapidly becoming a pain in my ass.

I am probably using the wrong terminology here, so please be kind. I don't know the difference between a stencil, a shape or whatever else Visio has up its sleeve. Accordingly, any answers should probably be targeted at a near-complete ignoramus.

What I have: a lot of pictures of equipment sorted into directories by type. So, I have a directory labeled Boilers full of pictures of boilers, a directory labeled Gas Piping full of pictures of gas piping, a directory labeled Precison Coolers full of pictures of precision coolers, and so on.

What I have been doing: Whenever I need a picture or pictures from these directories, I have been going to the Insert tab then clicking Picture then browsing to the picture and inserting it. Alternatively, I open a previous Visio document that I know has the picture I want, copy it from that Visio document and paste it into my own. This latter approach is used by other employees in other branches and as a result we have a comical directory full of Visio documents with names like CONTAINS CONDENSING BOILERS AND HYDRO LOOPS or AIR HANDLERS WITH AND WITHOUT RETURN FAN AND MIXED AIR that we all open and copy out of like idiots.

What I want: To have all these pictures appear in the Visio shapes sidebar under their own categories, named in the same fashion as the directories the pictures currently occupy. So, when I need to insert a picture of a condensing boiler, I would click the Boilers thingy in the Shapes sidebar, and then drag my boiler of choice onto my drawing.

This cannot possibly be as difficult as it seems, can it? I have asked other employees what they do and they do the same things I do. Nobody knows how to add these pictures to the Shapes sidebar. Our IT department tells us that all you need to do is drag the pictures from the directories into the sidebar and they will automatically be added by folder, but that has not worked.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated, Visio gurus.
posted by Sternmeyer to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not a Visio guru, but I tried this in Visio 2007 and it seemed to work: Create a Shape. This will require some setup, and I'm not sure how easy it might be to share with other users, but it's a start?
posted by gorbichov at 12:38 PM on August 21, 2012

PS - I would create these custom image shapes on my "Favorites" stencil in Visio. It looks like you can then copy/paste the "Favorites" stencil file into the appropriate Visio directory for each user, as a way to share them. This is not a very formal way to do this, and can be a pain to manage if you will be changing/updating the images often. Maybe if you create the master "Favorites" file, your IT team will gracious enough to manage deploying it to the other users . . . :)
posted by gorbichov at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2012

I think your IT department is missing a crucial step. You need to drag the photos from an open Visio drawing canvas onto a stencil. Not from a Windows folder, but from an open Visio drawing.

Let's say you have a VSD with all of your boiler photos. Make a copy of that VSD on your Desktop (you probably don't want to touch the original). Now open that VSD now on your desktop.

Go to the Shapes palette and create a new stencil. View > Task Panes > Shapes > More Shapes > New Stencil

Your new stencil will say something like "Drag Quick Shapes Here." Then drag a boiler photo from your open drawing into your new stencil. (It will disappear from the drawing. This is why you're working off a copy.) Hit save. Call your new stencil Boilers.vss or whatever makes sense to you.

Continue dragging your photos into your new stencil. Click to save the stencil.

Close the drawing without saving changes. Start a new drawing. Open your new stencil. View > Task Panes > Shapes > More Shapes > My Shapes > Boilers.vss.

You should now be able to create many new drawings that use "Boilers.vss." Create as many VSS files as you need. And hopefully you'll be able to share these with your colleagues. They are usually saved into a My Shapes folder inside of My Documents.
posted by kathryn at 1:30 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks a ton, kathryn. Your clear instructions are exactly what I needed, and it's working great. Now, it's gonna be slow to add a couple thousand of these, but I will just do it as I go along.
posted by Sternmeyer at 2:41 PM on August 21, 2012

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