2D Snap, 2.5D Snap, 3D Snap
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Main toolbar (2D Snap), (2.5D Snap), or (3D Snap) on the Snaps Toggle flyout

Tools menu Grids and Snaps Snaps Toggle

Keyboard S

The buttons on the Snaps Toggle flyout provide control over the range of 3D space where snaps are active. A wide variety of snap types is available from the Snaps dialog, which you can use to activate different snap types as you work.

2D, 2.5D, 3D Snaps flyout

Object Snapping

Object snapping lets you snap to specific portions of existing geometry during creation and transforms of objects or sub-objects. You can also snap to the grid, and you can snap to tangents, midpoints, pivot points, face centers and other options.

The mode you choose maintains its state when you switch levels.

Transforming Around Snap Points

When snapping is on and Auto Key is off, rotations and scales occur about the snap point. For example, if you're using Vertex snapping and you're rotating a box, you can rotate it about any of its corner vertices. See To use snaps to move an absolute distance: below.

When Auto Key is on and either Select And Rotate or Select And Scale is active, the Snaps Toggle button is disabled, and rotation and scaling take place about the pivot point of the object.

Snap Handle When Moving an Object

When 2D, 2.5D, or 3D snaps are turned on and the Move tool is active, the Move gizmo shows a small circle at its center.

A circle at the center of the Move gizmo shows that snaps are active.

Not only does the circular handle indicate that snaps are active, it helps increase the accuracy of snaps, compared to releases prior to Autodesk 3ds Max 2011. You can use the gizmo controls as before, or drag the handle itself: In either case, 3ds Max shows the original position of the object, and by default a rubber-band line stretches from the original position to the new destination. When you drag the snap handle or the Move gizmo, the axis center is the start snap point.

The green line shows start and destination points.

When start and destination points are snapped or aligned, the color of the snap points and rubber band changes from Snap Point Active (default=green) to Snap Point Snapped (default=yellow).

NoteYou can customize the colors of the snap indicators: In the Customize User Interface dialog Colors panel, choose Elements Snaps.

Dragging from the snap handle is equivalent to using the snap option Use Axis Center As Start Snap Point that was available in versions of 3ds Max prior to Autodesk 3ds Max 2011. In addition, you can use other snap points on the object that you are moving. For example, when snapping to vertices, the following illustrations show that you can snap from a vertex on the object you are moving.

Vertex snap: Snapping from the upper-left corner of the box.

Snapping the upper-left corner of the box to a vertex on the dodecahedron.

TipWhen you snap from a location other than the snap handle (the axis center), be careful of two things:
  • Make sure the Move cursor is visible when you click. Otherwise, you might deselect the object you are trying to move.
  • If the vertex (or other snap location) is close to an axis of the Move gizmo, the move might be constrained along that axis.

Using the snap handle or the Move gizmo corresponds to the toggle Use Axis Constraints, or to (Snaps Use Axis Constraints Toggle) on the Axis Constraints toolbar being on. Using a snap point elsewhere on the moving object corresponds to the option being off. In Autodesk 3ds Max 2011, buttons on the toolbar update interactively, depending on which portion of the gizmo or geometry you use to move the object.

See Also


To turn snap off during a transform:

To use snaps to move a relative distance:

  1. Turn on Snaps with the S key, or by clicking (Snaps Toggle).
  2. Lock your selection set by pressing the spacebar, or by clicking (Selection Lock Toggle) on the status bar.
  3. Wherever you click in the viewport, the snap will stay relative to the distance of your cursor to the object.

To use snaps to move an absolute distance:

  1. Turn on (Snaps Toggle).
  2. Click the selection. Snap uses the point you click for the snap source.
  3. Move to whatever target snap you desire. The object will snap to an absolute distance.

Example: To rotate a box around a vertex using snaps:

  1. Make sure (Auto Key) is off.
  2. Select the box.
  3. On the main toolbar, click (Select And Rotate).
  4. Turn Snaps on by pressing S on the keyboard.
  5. On the Tools menu, choose Grids And Snaps Grid And Snap Settings. Turn on Vertex and turn off Grid Points.
  6. Lock your selection set by clicking (Selection Lock Toggle) on the status bar.
  7. On the toolbar, choose (Use Transform Coordinate Center) (hold the mouse down on Use Pivot Point Center to open the flyout).
  8. Move your cursor over any vertex in the box. The blue snap cursor will appear, and then you can rotate the box around that vertex.


There are three snap modes:

2D Snap

The cursor snaps only to the active construction grid, including any geometry on the plane of that grid. The Z axis, or vertical dimension, is ignored.

2.5D Snap

The cursor snaps only to the vertices or edges of the projection of an object onto the active grid.

Suppose you create a grid object and make it active. You then position the grid object so you can see through the grid to a cube further off in 3D space. Now with 2.5D set, you can snap a line from vertex to vertex on the distant cube, but the line is drawn on the active grid. The effect is like holding up a sheet of glass and drawing the outline of a distant object on it.

3D Snap

This is the default tool. The cursor snaps directly to any geometry in 3D space. 3D snapping lets you create and move geometry in all dimensions, ignoring the construction plane.

Right-click this button to display the Grid and Snap Settings dialog, which lets you change snap categories and set other options.