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Customizing VISIO My Shapes

Started by broered, May 28, 2008, 03:53:52 PM

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Placing all your user-defined shapes under the My Shapes entry in VISIO's MY SHAPES is rather limiting for those who have a complex hiererchy of shape sheets.

Does anyone know if there's a way to customize the whole MY SHAPES area?

Visio Guy

Hi Broered,

If you go to Tools > Options > Advanced > File Paths, you can enter paths (separated by ; ) to custom locations for your stencils.

These will show up in the Shapes drop-down toolbar button, and under File > Shapes. If you have a hierarchy of stencils, these will show as sub-menus.

You can also change the location of My Shapes in this dialog.
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I've used this process.
What I'm wondering is this:
There's a bunch of default templates and shapes.  I think they're all located under C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\...
When you click the Shapes tool bar icon, all your user-created shapes are listed under
"My Shapes".  All Microsofts shapes are lised in directories at this same level.  It's not that I don't like Microsoft's default templates.  I just don't like having ALL my user-created templates forced into a single directory called "My Shapes", shown at the root level.  When you have lots of shape sheets, you're forced to cram ALL your shape organization directory structure under "My Shapes" >:( 
Microsoft's doing something to tell the program how to organize this whole structure.  I'd like to know what it is and be able to rearrange it.

Even if the Microsoft defaults can't be disturbed - it would be nice to be able to rename "My Shapes" and create additional folders at this level.


Visio Guy

Well, if you have sub-directories in one of the directories that you add to the Paths, then your stuff will be sub-divided according to the hierarchy of those sub-directories. I'm not sure what's so bad about that.

Also, you can get your stuff to look just like the MS/Visio-supplied templates by installing/publishing them.

This article has way too much information, but for just installing/publishing stencils and templates, the procedure is not that difficult. While it's too much work for just your own machine, it sure is slick once you've got it down.
For articles, tips and free content, see the Visio Guy Website at
Get my Visio Book! Using Microsoft Visio 2010


Wondering if there have been any updates to make what broered asked possible. I'm running Visio 2016 and would really like to add a second option in the MY SHAPES section. I have two separate groups of shapes and it would be perfect to distinguish them this way.

I'd like to rename the My Shapes (circled in red) to one brand and then create another one with the other brand's name and respective stencil.

Thanks in advance for any help!


A few years ago I have build a website to package Visio stencils/templates:

You should be able to add multiple Visio stencil and then configure where in the menu they appear.
The site builds an installable package (MSI)

Looks like it still works. You could check it out; in case you like it but something does not work ping here, I'll try to fix (if I find the sources) :)
Probably will publish the sources to github anyway (again, if I find them) :)


Thanks Nikolay!

Unfortunately, I'm on a work computer so security restrictions keep me from downloading/installing add-ons  :(


It's an online tool (a website), not an add-on actually, i.e. what do you mean?
Or you mean that you can't install the produced result (it's also not an add-on but just stencils packed as MSI)?

The point is to customize menu is now not doable with "user-level" tools.
As of my understanding, the idea was that "stencil provider" packs the stencils for you and you just install that.


Yea, it blocks me from installing the produced result

I'll definitely have to check it out on my personal pc though, seems like a great tool

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