Use layers to set properties for multiple shapes

Layers in Visio provide a way to change properties of all shapes that have been assigned to that layer. The following properties can be set:

  • Visible – Turn visibility on or off.

  • Print – Include or exclude the shapes when the diagram is printed.

  • Active – Automatically assign shapes to active layers when the shapes are added to the diagram.

  • Lock – Prevent or allow changes to the shapes.

  • Snap – Turn snap on or off.

  • Glue – Turn glue on or off.

  • Color – Show or hide the layer color.

Templates have default layers that shapes are assigned to when you drop the shape on the page. You can keep these default layers, or remove them and create your own. To see which layers a shape is assigned to:

  1. Select the shape on the drawing page.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Layers, and then click Assign to Layer.

The Layer dialog opens and shows a list of layers in the diagram. The layers that the shape belongs to are selected. You can add and remove layer associations by selecting and clearing the check boxes in this dialog.

If you want to use your own custom layers, first create the layers and then assign shapes to them.

Create a layer

  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Layers, and then click Layer Properties.

  2. In the Layer Properties dialog box, click New.

  3. Type a name for the layer and then click OK.

In this dialog you can also remove an existing layer, which also deletes all shapes that are assigned to that layer from the diagram. To keep the shapes, first use Assign to Layer to remove all shapes from the layer, and then use Layer Properties to remove the layer.

Lock a layer

Shapes on a locked layer cannot be selected, moved, or edited. Also, shapes cannot be added to a locked layer.

  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Layers, and then click Layer Properties.

  2. In the Layer Properties dialog box, select or clear the check box in the Lock column for the layer.

Assign a color to a layer

  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Layers, and then click Layer Properties.

  2. For the layer you want to color, click in the Color column to add a check mark.

  3. Select the layer name, and then, in the Layer Color list, click a color name.

  4. To make the layer transparent, drag the Transparency slider to the value you want.

    A value of 100% makes the layer invisible; a value of 0% makes the layer opaque.

The color and transparency you assign to shapes on a layer temporarily override each shape's original color and transparency. Turn off the layer color to return each shape to its original color. Shapes assigned to more than one layer use their original color, rather than the layer color. Layer colors appear in both the displayed drawing and the printed drawing.

Activate one or more layers

  1. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Layers, and then click Layer Properties.

  2. For each layer you want to make active, click in the Active column to add a check mark.

The layer is active for the current page. When you drag a shape that does not have a predefined layer assignment onto the page, it is assigned to the active layer. Making a layer active is a fast way to assign shapes to a layer as you add them to the page. You cannot activate a layer that is locked against editing.

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