Tools Palette Overview

Ortelius delivers with a full suite of professional vector drawing tools. The Tools palette is visible by default. To Show / Hide Tools, click the Tools button on the toolbar, or choose ‘Window > Tools’ from the main menu.

Overview of the Drawing Tools


The Tools palette consists of Selection tools (Select, Zoom & Pan), Graphics tools (Shapes, Paths & Curves, Edit Paths and Points, Text Box & Text On Path, Clip Art Stamp, and Style Dropper), Cartography tools (Straight Track, Curved Track, Polygonal Track, Freehand Track, Linear Select and Ruler), and a Preview that displays the active style or symbol.

HINT: Drawing tools work with both fill and line styles. For example, the Irregular Polygon can appear as a filled shape when applying fill styles and a shape with an outline when applying line styles.

Related: Cartography Tools and Select, Zoom & Pan Tools

About Ortelius Tool Preferences

Ortelius provides a preference setting for how drawing tools respond with styles, offering flexibility for your preferred workflow.

  • Tools Remember Styles Individually (Default) – Unlike common drawing applications, in mapping it is often preferable to have each tool “remember” its last used style. By default, each tool remembers the most recently used style as it is applied. Choose a tool, choose a style, and begin drawing.
  • Tools Respond to Active Style – Alternatively, all tools can be set to respond to the active style. To set this preference for your workflow, choose Ortelius > Preferences… Options pane and uncheck “Tools remember styles individually.” A style will remain active with each drawing tool until the style is changed.

Sticky Tools

  1. By default, tools are “sticky” – the tool will remain active until you choose a different tool (active tool appears highlighted orange).
  2. Depending on the task at hand, having the tools revert immediately back to the Select [s] tool after each use may be preferred. Double-click on any tool to release tools from the sticky state (active tool will appear blue or graphite depending on your system ‘appearance’ setting). In the non-sticky state, click a tool to “turn it on” and use it once. Afterward, you’ll revert back to the direct Select [s] tool.

To make non-sticky tools sticky again, double-click on the Select tool or any drawing tool.

Learn the Drawing Tools with Hands-On Exercises

If you are unfamiliar with vector drawing tools, learn how to use them with Ortelius’s Hands-On Exercises. Choose ‘File > Templates > New From Template…’ from the main menu and select an exercise.