Find more shapes and stencils

If you need more shapes than a particular Visio template provides, you have a couple of options. You can search your computer for shapes that are installed with Visio, or you can search the web for shapes.

This topic has the following sections:

Find shapes in Visio

The search box is in the Shapes window, in a separate tab from the stencils.

Search for shapes by clicking Search in the Shapes window

The Search tab opens with the search box at the top. This is also where search results appear. To return to the diagram stencils, click Stencils at the top of the Shapes window.

Note: If you don’t see Search in the Shapes window, you might need to activate it.

To activate search for shapes
  1. On the File tab, click Options.

  2. In Visio Options, click Advanced.

  3. Under Shape Search, select Show Shape Search pane.

    Select Show Shape Search pane to display Search in the Shapes window.

Quick Tasks

Task

Action

Save search results as a new stencil.

Right-click the title bar of a stencil in the search results, and then click Save As. Type a name for the stencil, and save it in your My Shapes folder.

Save an individual shape to your Favorites stencil or a different stencil.

In the Stencils view in the Shape window, right-click the shape, and point to Add to My Shapes.

Right-click a shape in the Stencil view to add it to My Shapes.

Then click Favorites to add the shape to your Favorites stencil.

Click Favorites to add the selected shape to your Favorites stencil.

You can also click Add To New Stencil to create a stencil that contains only that shape, or click Add to Existing Stencil to select a stencil, for example from your My Shapes folder.

Open a saved stencil.

In the Shapes window, click More Shapes, point to My Shapes, and then click the stencil name.

Click More Shapes, and then point to My Shapes to display your stencils.

Expand or refine your search.

You can choose whether searches for shapes use all of the words that you enter or any of the words that you enter.

For example, if you enter "office chair" as a search in the Shapes window, the search can be for shapes that are related to both "office" and "chair," or for shapes that are related to either "office" or "chair" (or both).

Choose the first type of search, AND, when you only want results that are related to all of the words that you enter. Choose the second type of search, OR, when you want to see more search results and matching all words is not necessary.

To set search options
  1. Click the File tab, and then click Options.

  2. In Visio Options, click Advanced, and then scroll down to the Shape search section.

Tip:  Shape Search uses Windows Search to find shapes on your computer, so if you don’t get any search results, it might be because Windows Search is off. In Control Panel, click Programs, then click Turn Windows Features on or off, and in the Windows Features box, check the Windows Search checkbox.

Find shapes on the web

If you have an Internet connection, you can search the web for shapes.

You can find shapes by searching the Microsoft Download Center for "Visio shapes". Here are some of the shapes you can download:

Visio shapes are also created by people and companies outside of Microsoft. If you are looking for some very specific or unusual shapes, you might try non-Microsoft providers such as these:

  • Equipment manufacturers     If you are looking for shapes that represent specific pieces of equipment, you can often find them at the equipment manufacturer's web site.

  • Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs)     Visio MVPs are Visio experts who freely answer questions and offer solutions, tips, and suggestions, most often in the Visio discussion groups. You can find stencils of shapes on the Visio MVP site, an independent web site that is entirely managed by the Visio MVPs.

  • Other external sites     Some sites on the web run by independent Visio users and businesses offer shapes and other downloads.

Save the downloaded stencils

After you download a stencil of shapes, copy it to your My Shapes folder. By default, your My Shapes folder is located inside your default Documents folder. Then, open the stencil in Visio by navigating to My Shapes.

To open a stencil saved in My Shapes
  • In the Shapes window, click More Shapes, point to My Shapes, and then click the stencil name.

    Click More Shapes, and then point to My Shapes to display your stencils.
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