Three ways to switch between views in Blender, without using a NumPad

I generally work on my laptop a lot, including using Blender, and as most laptops do; this one does not have a NumPad. Most tutorials that you find on the internet presume you do; if you are like me you struggle with not being able to easily switch between views using the NumPad or to Frame the selected element using NumPad+Period.

There are good alternatives for this situation and I will give you three options.

Emulate NumPad

This is the most frequent suggestion that I encounter, and the one I like least. In your blender settings, there is an option called ‘Emulate NumPad’. What this option does is it will allow you to use your regular numerical keys in the top row of your keyboard as if they were your NumPad’s numerical options.

The option to emulate your NumPad is in the Input category of the Blender Settings

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Except that the ‘1’, ‘2’ and ‘3’ are easy ways to switch between Vertex, Edge and Face select! I use these keys all the time to easily switch between these select modes so losing them is not an option for me.

Luckily, there is more.

Using the Mouse

I think I stumbled on this one by accident and it is actually quite a nifty trick. When you hold Alt and then drag with your middle mouse button, the view will rotate to an orthogonal view in that direction. So, if you drag horizontally, it will rotate between Right, Back, Left and Front view. And if you drag vertically it will rotate between Top, Front, Bottom and Back view.

The confusing bit for me, is that which orthogonal view you end up in is dependent on the rotation of your User Perspective; this feels a bit unpredictable to me and frequently I have to make multiple swipes before I end up in the view that I wanted.

But what about Option 3?

Pressing the Backtick (`)

Blender introduced Pie Menus, by default, in version 2.8; and these have been a big game-changer for me. Especially when it comes to using the laptop and switching between views.

When you press the Backtick button (`); blender will open a Pie menu that provides the means to easily switch between different views and allows you to Frame your selected item when you don’t have a NumPad, although it eludes me why it is called View Selected in this menu while NumPad+Period is called Frame Selected.

This is what the Backtick Pie Menu looks like.

This is it, the holy grail of switching betweens views as far as I am concerned. Even when I do have a NumPad available, I have become so accustomed to using this option that I keep using it.

As a last mention, in case you did not figure this out already: do you see the numbers with each item of the Pie Menu? You probably guessed it, it is a shortcut that you can use!

So instead of mousing to the item in the Pie Menu, I frequently just Press Backtick and then 3 instead of NumPad+Period; or, for example, Backtick then 7 instead of NumPad+1.

I hope you enjoyed this tip and happy blendering!

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