Changing Element Appearance

If you want to modify the appearance of a specific element on a diagram, you can use a range of facilities available through the element context menu on the diagram.

Access Right-click on element on diagram | Appearance

Element Appearance Options



See also

Default Appearance

Click on this option to override the global default appearance of all elements (which you set on the 'Standard Colors' and 'Diagram Appearance' pages of the 'Options' dialog) with a different default for just the selected element on all diagrams in which it is used.

To change the appearance of the selected element on the current diagram only, use the Format toolbar.

Shortcut: F4

Set an Element's Default Appearance Format Toolbar Standard Colors Diagram Appearance Options

Apply Image From Clipboard

Click on this option to paste the image held on the clipboard onto the selected element, as an alternative image.

This image is added to the Image Library under an automatically-assigned name. The image can be accessed from and renamed in the Image Manager.

Using the Image Manager

Select Alternate Image

Click on this option to change the element's appearance to an alternative image, using the Image Manager.

Shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+W

Using the Image Manager

Hide/Show Name Under Image

For an element that has an alternative image, click on this option to hide or redisplay the name label under the element.

Set Font

Click on this option to change the font type, size, color and effects for the text in the element.

Set Element Font


For System Boundary elements; click on this option to change the element outline to a rectangle, rounded rectangle or ellipse shape.

System Boundary Properties

Diagram Frame Appearance

For Diagram Frame elements; click on this option to set the appearance of the frame.

Diagram Frame

Show Labels

For embedded elements, or those with an alternate image that show element properties as labels; click on this option to reveal the hidden labels on the element.

(The option is not listed if there are no hidden labels.)

Manage Object Labels

Standard Memo
Memo (Style 2)

For a Note element, click on one of these options to apply the corresponding image to the element.

Create Notes and Text

Copy Appearance to Painter

Click on this option to copy the default element appearance (set using the 'Default Appearance' option) to the painter.

You then paste the default appearance using the 'Paste Appearance' option on the Diagram toolbar.

Diagram Toolbar

Copy Image to Clipboard

Click on this option to copy the element image to the clipboard. You can use the 'Apply Image from Clipboard' option to recover and use the image elsewhere.


  • You can also change the appearance (and other aspects) of several selected elements at once
  • Context menus vary between element types, and not all menu options shown here are present on all element context menus; for example, the 'Select Alternate Image' option does not display for a Lifeline element

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