Add connectors between shapes in Visio

Visio makes it easy to connect shapes in your drawing. You can use AutoConnect to connect shapes as you add them, and you can connect existing shapes by using the Connector tool.

This topic has the following sections:

Types of connections

There are two types of connections that a connector can have to a shape: a point connection or a dynamic connection. A point connection keeps a connector glued to a specific point on the shape, even if that shape is moved or rotated. A dynamic connection allows a connector to change its location on a shape so that, as a shape is moved or rotated, the connector moves to the connection point on the shape that is nearest to the connector's point of origin.

In the following diagram, shape A has a point connection to shape C, and wherever C is moved, the connector from A stays connected to the same point on C. In contrast, shape B has a dynamic connection to C, and the connector from B moves to whichever connection point on C is closest.

A has a point connection to C, but B has a dynamic connection to C.

You can have either type of connection on either end of a connector. If you use AutoConnect to connect shapes, both ends will have a dynamic connection. If you manually select where a connector is attached to a shape, you can specify the type of connection. For more information about specifying and changing the type of connection, see Connect shapes that are already on the page, later in this topic.

Automatically connect a shape when you add it

One way to connect shapes is to let Visio connect them automatically when you add shapes to a drawing. This is especially convenient when you are creating a flowchart.

Use the following procedure to add a shape to your drawing that Visio automatically connects to an existing shape.

Note   To use the following procedure, be sure that AutoConnect is active. On the View tab, in the Visual Aids group, verify that AutoConnect is selected.

To add a shape and automatically connect it to an existing shape
  1. Drag a shape from the Shapes window to the page, if there are no shapes on the page yet.

  2. Hold the pointer over the starting shape until AutoConnect arrows appear around the shape.

    When AutoConnect is active, hover over a shape to display connection arrows.

    If you don't see the AutoConnect arrows, check the View tab to see whether AutoConnect is selected.

  3. Hold the pointer over the arrow in the direction you want to add a shape.

    Hovering over an AutoConnect arrow displays a toolbar of shapes to add.

    A mini toolbar appears that contains the first four Quick Shapes that are currently in the Quick Shapes stencil. When you point at a shape on the toolbar, Visio displays a preview of that shape on the page.

  4. Click the shape you want to add.

  5. If you want to continue, point to an AutoConnect arrow on a newly added shape to add another shape that will also be automatically connected.

    Hovering over the newly added shape displays AutoConnect arrows for adding another shape.

Note   If you want a different shape from those presented on the mini toolbar, drag the shape you want from the Shapes window into position on the page. To connect the shape, use the method described in Connect shapes that are already on the page, later in this topic.

Connect shapes that are already on the page

Of course, you can connect shapes that are already in your drawing, either by using AutoConnect or by using the Connector tool.

When you connect shapes, you can do so with two types of connections: a point connection or a dynamic connection. For more information about these types of connections, see Types of connections, earlier in this topic.

To create a point connection, to keep the connector glued to a specific point on a shape, drag from a connection point on the first shape to a connection point on the second shape. The connector endpoints turn green when the shapes are connected.

Glue a connector to a specific point on a shape to fix the connector to that point.
Glue a connector to a specific point on a shape to fix the connector to that point.

To create a dynamic connection, to allow the connector to move automatically to nearer points on a shape, position the Connector tool over the center of the first shape until a green box appears around the shape. Hold down the mouse button and drag to the center of the second shape. When a green box appears around the second shape, release the mouse button.

Glue a connector to a shape to allow dynamic movement of the connector to points on the shape.
Glue a connector to a shape to allow dynamic movement of the connector to points on the shape.

To connect existing shapes by using AutoConnect

  1. Hold the pointer over a shape until AutoConnect arrows appear around the shape.

    When AutoConnect is active, hover over a shape to display connection arrows.
  2. Click and drag from the AutoConnect arrow to another shape, and drop the endpoint of the connector onto the middle of the shape for a dynamic connection, or onto a specific connection point on the shape for a point connection.

    A preview of a shape appears when you hold the pointer over the AutoConnect arrow, but you can ignore the shape; it will disappear as you drag the connector to its destination.

To connect shapes by using the Connector tool
  1. On the Home tab, in the Tools group, click Connector.

    The Connector tool connects to shapes with a point connection on each end.
  2. Click a shape and drag a connector to another shape.

  3. When you’re done, click Pointer Tool on the Home tab in the Tools group.

Quick Tasks

Task

Action

Change the connector type to right-angle, straight, or curved.

Right-click the connector and then click the connector type in the shortcut menu: right-angle, straight, or curved.

Align and space the shapes so the connectors are neat.

Select all the shapes you want to align and then, on the Home tab, in the Arrange group, click Align > Auto Align or Position > Auto Space. You can select multiple shapes by pressing the Ctrl key while you click muliple shapes, or by using one of the Select options in the Editing group on the Home tab.

Change a connection from dynamic to point, or from point to dynamic.

Select the connector, and then drag the connector end point away from the shape. Then drop the connector on a specific point for a point connection, or on the middle of the shape for a dynamic connection.

Turn AutoConnect on or off

You can activate and deactivate AutoConnect in all Visio drawings or in only the active drawing.

To turn AutoConnect on or off in the active diagram
  • On the View tab, in the Visual Aids group, select or clear AutoConnect.

    Select or clear AutoConnect on the View tab to activate or deactivate AutoConnect.

Note   If the AutoConnect check box is not available, check whether AutoConnect has been turned off for all diagrams by performing the following procedure.

To turn AutoConnect on or off in all diagrams
  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.

  2. In Visio Options, click Advanced.

  3. Under Editing options, select Enable AutoConnect to activate AutoConnect. Clear the AutoConnect check box to deactivate AutoConnect.

    Select or clear Enable AutoConnect to activate or deactivate AutoConnect for all diagrams & drawings.
  4. Click OK.

Applies To: Visio Professional 2016, Visio Standard 2016, Visio 2013, Visio Professional 2013



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