Snap Settings
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Tools menu Grids and Snaps Grid And Snap Settings Grid And Snap Settings dialog Snaps tab

Main toolbar Right-click a snap button

Keyboard Hold Shift+right-click Snaps quadrant

Keyboard S (toggles snaps on and off)

Snapping gives you additional control when creating, moving, rotating, and scaling objects by causing the cursor to “jump” to specific portions of existing geometry and other scene elements during creation and transformation of objects or sub-objects. The controls in this dialog set the snap strength and other characteristics such as the snap target.

NoteSnapping functionality includes several features that enhance ease of use. For details, see the General Group section of the Snap Options topic.

You can specify the portion of the geometry where you will snap. For example, when Vertex is the active snap type, creating and transforming objects snaps to the vertices of existing geometry. You can specify any combination of active snap types to provide multiple snapping points. For example, if Vertex and Midpoint are active, snapping occurs at both vertices and edge midpoints.

The default snap type is Grid Points.

Note Snapping is not on by default. You can toggle snapping by pressing the S key at any time, even in the middle of a transform. In this way you can combine snapping with free positioning.

Snapping works at sub-object levels. For example, you can use snaps to position a gizmo to the object on which you're working, or snap it to other objects in the scene.

You must activate a viewport in order to use snaps. Also, the Z-axis constraints don't apply to the home grid or grid objects, since grids don't have a Z axis.

Settings are stored in the 3dsmax.ini file. The state of the snap settings persists from session to session.

Snaps and Axis Constraints

Snaps take precedence over axis constraints. If you activate an axis constraint, such as Restrict to X, you can move the object only in X. But if you then turn on snaps, Restrict to X is suspended and not used.

You can override this by turning on Snaps Use Axis Constraint Toggle on the Axis Constraints toolbar, or by turning on Use Axis Constraints in Snap Options.

The Snaps Toolbar

The most common Snaps settings are available from an optional toolbar. To toggle display of the Snaps toolbar, right-click an empty area of the main toolbar, such as the section under the Reference Coordinate System drop-down, and choose Snaps. The toolbar buttons are shown next to the relevant commands, below and in the Snap Options topic.

The same settings are also available from the snap quad menu, available with Shift+right-click.


To set grid and snap settings:

  1. Turn on (3D Snap Toggle).
  2. Choose Tools menu Grids And Snaps Grid And Snap Settings to display the Grid and Snap Settings dialog.
  3. In the Snaps tab, select one or more of the types of snaps you want active.
  4. Create an object or transform an object.

    Snap markers appear when the mouse cursor is over existing geometry or on a grid, depending on the active snap types. Each snap type has a different display; clicking when the snap-specific display is visible snaps to that spot.

To display the Snaps shortcut menu:

To use both constraint and snaps, do one of the following:

  1. In the Grid and Snap Settings dialog Options tab Translation group, turn on Use Axis Constraints.
  2. Hold Shift and right-click in the viewport, and then choose Options Transform Constraints from the Snap quadrant.

Example: To use 3D snaps and rotation transformations together:

  1. Create a box.
  2. Select the box and turn on (Selection Lock Toggle).
  3. On the toolbar, turn on (3D Snaps Toggle), then click (Select And Rotate).
  4. From the Use Center flyout on the main toolbar, choose ( Use Transform Coordinate Center).
  5. Activate the Perspective viewport and move the cursor over the grid.

    A blue icon displays when the cursor passes over a grid point.

  6. When the blue icon displays, click and drag to rotate the box around the selected grid point.

    You can rotate around anything you can snap to.

To turn snaps on and off during an operation:


Use these check boxes on the Snaps tab to turn on any combination of snap settings.

After setting snaps, close the dialog using the Close button in the dialog's upper-right corner. Do not click the Clear All button, or you'll turn off all the snaps.


This label changes to display the temporary snap type used by the Override system. For more information, see Snap Override.

Clear All

Turns off all of the Snaps check boxes.

NoteThe layout of the Grid And Snap Settings dialog is generated at runtime. Because of this, it might appear slightly different than the illustrations shown here.

Standard snaps

These are the standard snap types used for grids, mesh, and shape objects. Non-grid snap types, when active, take priority over Grid Points and Grid Lines snaps: if the mouse is equally near a grid point and some other snap type, it will choose the other snap type.

NoteThe button images shown below are from the Snaps toolbar.
Grid Points

Snaps to grid intersections. This snap type is on by default. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F5.

Grid Lines

Snaps to any point on a grid line.


Snaps to pivot points of objects. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F6.

Bounding Box

Snaps to one of the eight corners of an object's bounding box.


Snaps to the perpendicular point on a spline, relative to the previous point.


Snaps to a tangent point on a spline, relative to the previous point.


Snaps to vertices of mesh objects or objects that can be converted to editable meshes. Snaps to segments on splines. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F7.


Snaps to the end points of edges on meshes or spline vertices. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F8


Snaps anywhere along edges (visible or invisible) or spline segments. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F10.


Snaps to the middle of edges on meshes and spline segments. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F9.


Snaps anywhere on the surface of a face. Back faces are culled, so they have no effect. Keyboard shortcut=Alt+F11.

Center Face

Snaps to the center of triangular faces.

NURBS snaps

These options snap to objects or sub-objects in a NURBS model.

The NURBS snaps settings are aids for creating and transforming objects, and are not constraints. 3ds Max does not maintain the relationship between the NURBS object and other objects you create or transform.


Snaps to a point sub-object in a NURBS model.

Curve Center

Snaps to the center of a NURBS curve.

The center of a NURBS curve is calculated parametrically, and might not be the same as the curve's apparent visual center.

Curve Normal

Snaps to a point normal to a NURBS curve.

This snap operates only while you are creating a new object that requires two or more clicks to create.

Curve Tangent

Snaps to a point tangent to a NURBS curve.

This snap operates only while you are creating a new object that requires two or more clicks to create.

Curve Edge

Snaps to the edge of a NURBS curve (the current object moves or is created to lie along the curve).

Curve End

Snaps to the end of a NURBS curve.

Surf Center

Snaps to the center of a NURBS surface.

The center of a NURBS curve is calculated parametrically, and might not be the same as the curve's apparent visual center.

Surf Normal

Snaps to a point on a NURBS surface normal to previous point.

This snap operates only while you are creating a new object.

Surf Edge

Snaps to the edge of a NURBS surface.