algorithmic modeling for Rhino

Everything you need to know about Display and View Menus in Grasshopper

[Skeleton Outline - Will complete latter]

Note I am going to close the discussion while I work on it (possibly afterwards as well) so that no one messes up the replies as this will be a large topic I want to be able to link to each sub topic from the Forum.

Click a link below to learn more:

Display Menu

Draw Icons

Draw Fancy Wires

Draw Full Names


Preview Mesh Settings

|___ Disable Meshing

|___ Low Quality

|___ High Quality

|___ Document Quality

|___ Custom Quality & Edit Custom Quality

[Bump Preview] not in File Menu

No Preview

Wireframe Preview

Shaded Preview

Selected Only Preview

Preview Settings


Preview Point Flavour

|___ Dot

|___ Point

|___ Cross

Preview Plane Size

Preview Mesh Edges



Canvas Widgets

|___ Compass

|___ Align

|___ Markov

|___ Profiler

|___ Message Balloons

View Menu

Remote Control Panel

Canvas Toolbar

Component Tabs

Panel Separators

Obscure Components

Data Viewer


Store Current View

Restore Named View


|___ Zoom Selected

|___ Zoom Extents

|___ Focus on Upper-Left

|___ Focus on Upper-Right

|___ Focus on Lower-Left

|___ Focus on Lower-Right

|___ Zoom On Preview


Canvas Redraw Speed

Document Info

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Display Menu - User Preferences

There are three options at the top of the Display menu that allow you to change the appearance of the Components and the style of their wires* on the Canvas.

These are:

  • Draw Icons
  • Draw Fancy Wires
  • Draw Full Names

Draw Icons allows you to view the same icon that appears in the Component Tabs above the Canvas instead of the Nickname of a component.

These are also available on a per component basis. From the Component's right click Context Menu you can cycle between the three options for each component.

  • Use application settings
  • Always draw name
  • Always draw icon

This is particularly useful to show User Defined Names of Params


Draw Fancy Wires provides a visual aid to the structure of the data being passed from one component to another. (Default shown inset)

Draw Full Names is an option that allows users to see more than just an Initial for the Parameters and the Nickname for the Component.

You should note that the size differs greatly between the default and Full Names settings and even between Draw Icons and not. Switching regularly between the various options on a regular basis will play havoc with any OCD you may have. 


Pros and Cons

As these options are user preferences there is no need to feel you are doing anything wrong if some else is doing it different.

For example:

It is easy to read a Named component from an example image online and then get the same component by using the Create Facility (F4). But also it is easy to see an Icon and find the same image on the Component Tab or Drop down Menu.

One thing to note is that every component has a unique icon but not necessarily a unique Nickname, in which case you have to distinguish the difference from the input/output parameters.

* Note that these are not the choices of Default, Faint and Hidden wires which are only accessible from each Parameter's Context Menu

Display Menu - Preview Mesh Settings

Below the first separator of the Display Menu is the Preview Mesh Settings option which leads to a flyout sub menu with all these available options.

  • Disable Meshing
  • Low Quality
  • High Quality
  • Document Quality
  • Custom Quality
  • Edit Custom Quality

These same options are also available from the Canvas Toolbar on the right hand side, with one exception: this is the only location [GH 0.9.0075] where you can find the Bump Preview Toggle.

The ability for the user to choose the standard of preview mesh quality was introduced in GH version 0.9.0005. 

Referenced Rhino Document Objects:

Disable Meshing as the name suggest this switches the meshing off for all Grasshopper Objects in the Rhino Document. It does not completely turn the Grasshopper Preview off as the Edges of Surfaces and other curve objects remain visible.

Low Quality is the default within Grasshopper as ultra-fast preview mesh settings are more suitable when having to update lots of objects in realtime. They also cause the most concern when people first see the difference between the surfaces represented by Grasshopper and those in Rhino, note the Sphere in the image below

If High Quality is of more importance then this can be selected to show a truer representation of the geometry in the Rhino Viewport. 

When Document Quality is selected Grasshopper will reference which ever setting is selected in the Tools>Options>Document Properties>Mesh Settings Panel

  • Jagged & Faster
  • Smooth & Slower
  • Custom

Custom Quality is available to any one wishing to have more control over the representation of Grasshopper objects in the Rhino Viewport. Whether it is extremely low for speed or extremely high for clarity. The first time you toggle this the Edit Custom Quality window will pop up.

Edit Custom Quality window displays the various options available to you to alter in order to achieve your desired results. similar to Rhino if a setting is set to 0 then it will be ignored.

Bump Preview is a solution to the problem of seeing Grasshopper objects and Rhino Referenced objects occupying the same space. Without Bump Preview toggled the Rhino object will almost always take precedence over the Grasshopper preview. Compare the difference between the image below where Bump Preview has been switched off and any of the previews above to see that the thick, black Rhino lines are visible as opposed to the thin, red Grasshopper lines.

Bump Preview achieves giving Grasshopper objects priority by bringing the them closer to the camera. If you were able to view the same seen from the side then this would be what you would see:

As a result Bump Preview does comes with its own undesirable artifacts that might lead you to suppress it. In the image below you can see the line that should be hidden behind the Shaded cube is visible for a short length before it passes through the Rhino Object.

*** Warning *** If you wish to use any other Preview Point Flavour (see below) other than Cross you must deactivate Bump Preview as there is a bug in the display pipeline.

*** Warning *** If you wish to use any other Preview Point Flavour (see below) other than Cross you must deactivate Bump Preview as there is a bug in the display pipeline.

This does not seem to be the case anymore GH 0.9.0075. I will remove this in the next round of corrections.

Display Menu - Preview

There are three Display Mode options for the Preview of Grasshopper objects in the Rhino Viewport:

  • No Preview
  • Wireframe Preview
  • Shaded Preview

Along with the Display Menu you can toggle these modes from either the Canvas Toolbar, the Remote Control Panel or via shortcuts Ctrl+1,2 or 3

These are pretty self explanatory so I will keep it brief:

No Preview will completely switch off the preview of the Grasshopper Objects in the Rhino Viewports.

Wireframe Preview similar to Disable Meshing will disable any render meshes but keep any curves or Edges visible.

Shaded Preview will shade the preview...

There are two more Icons in this section of the Display Menu:

  • Selected Only Preview
  • Preview Settings

Also available on the Canvas Toolbar.

Selected Only Preview is a useful feature for following what your definition is doing at stages along the process without having to switch all previews off and manually turning individual ones back on as you go.

Without Selected Only Preview Toggled

With Selected Only Preview Toggled:

Preview Settings is the area within Grasshopper where you can modify the colours - including transparency - Grasshopper uses to display objects in the Rhino Viewport.

The first thing you should do before altering any settings is to Drag the Default Colours onto the green plus sign to add them to the Presets. This will enable you to restore them easily.

For future reference the default settings are:

  • Normal = Hue: 0º, Sat: 100, Val: 59, A:100
  • Selected = Hue: 120º, Sat: 100, Val: 59, A:100

Apart from accounting for taste this feature is particularly useful for anyone that is colour blind[2]:

The way to restore a colour from the preset list is to drag it from the right hand panel to either the Normal or Selected option on the Left

[2] There is a very interesting discourse topic on the McNeel Forums about Red/Green Colour Blindness.

work carried out by Jørgen Holo

Display Menu - Viewport Options

There are a few options that the user has control over depending on how you want to view certain objects in Rhino.

  • Points
  • Planes
  • Meshes

Preview Point Flavour

The first option is the type of Point Grasshopper will display in the Rhino Viewport.

  • Dot
  • Point
  • Cross

Dot is a small dot of single colour.

Point is a slightly larger dot with a white center.

Cross an X-shaped cross. (Default)

Preview Plane Size

The option to change the size of the Plane appears as a fly out menu where an input box allows you to enter a value in Rhino Document Units to set the size of the Plane. (You must press Enter to accept the change)

Preview Mesh Edges

The option to hide/show mesh edges catches a few users out, thinking that the Meshing of the Object has failed.

And without...

There is a handy Shortcut of Ctrl+M to toggle between the two options.


As of version 0.9.0064, Grasshopper allows the user to move individual points that are Persistent[3a] by means of a Gumball in the Rhino Document. Volatile[3b] points can be made persistent by way of the Internalising feature found on the Context Menu of Components and Parameters

[3] Glossary:

  • Volatile - "liable to change rapidly and unpredictably". Referenced objects in Rhino are considered volatile. 
  • Persistent - "continuing to exist or endure over a prolonged period". Internalised objects are considered persistent. 






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