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MapInfo Monday: 10 most used features in MapInfo Pro

  • 1.  MapInfo Monday: 10 most used features in MapInfo Pro

    Posted 08-29-2022 08:53
    Edited by Peter Møller 09-07-2022 02:18
    Happy #MapInfoMonday!

    For today's post, I decided to take a closer look at the statistic we can extract from the ​Customer Experience Program. This has been built into MapInfo Pro for us to get an understanding of the use of specific features across our user base.

    It has been in the products since around v17.0, and as with all such customer experience programs, we ask for your permission before we capture your usage. The usage is of course completely anonymous.

    You will be asked to participate in the program when you start MapInfo Pro, and you can always see your current state and change it from the Application Preference dialog.

    I'm not going to share exact statistics with you in this article. This article is more about helping you use these features that are used so often.

    Top 10 of the most used features

    When you see the top 10 of the top most used features, you will say, "Well, of course. That makes sense" And this article really isn't about highlighting the most used features. It's all about giving you some hints to getting to these, or alternatives to using them so that you can work more effectively in MapInfo Pro.

    Top 10 features
    1. Select tool
    2. Pan tool
    3. Paste
    4. Copy
    5. Open Table
    6. Info tool
    7. Save Table
    8. Find
    9. Reshape
    10. Zoom In tool
    The Select or Selector tool is by far the most used feature or tool in MapInfo Pro. That shouldn't come as a big surprise. Personally, I use this all the time. Back in MapInfo Pro v2019, we improved the single key shortcuts. I'm still changing my habit from selecting the Selector tool from the Map Mini toolbar or the ribbon to just hitting the ESC key on my keyboard to switch to this tool. It's a two-decade-long habit so it takes a while to change but it certainly is faster to use the ESC key instead of finding the button somewhere on the interface.

    The Pan or Recenter tool is also one of the tools I use very often. You can use the Shift + P shortcut to switch to this tool. And, if you prefer, you can also hold down the scroll wheel on your mouse and now drag the map to a new location. When you release the scroll wheel, the map gets recentered and you get the tool back you already had.

    I'm certain most of you are familiar with the shortcuts for Copy and Paste as they are commonly used across all Windows applications. Ctrl + C to copy, and Ctrl + V to paste the copied content. Sometimes it might be faster to use the Append Rows feature from the Edit group on the Table tab if you are adding copying records from one table to another table.

    Open Table, or in fact any multiple data formats, is also widely used to load many different data formats into MapInfo Pro. Open Table can be accessed from multiple places on the ribbon interface. And often you would use Ctrl + O to access the Open dialog. Also, remember that recently used data can be found in the Most Recent Used List on the Open Gallery and that you can find recently used files of different formats in the list of files directly in the Open dialog.

    The Info tool is used to access attribute information for an object you can see on your map, or to understand how many objects of various types exist at a given location. You grab the Info tool and click on the map window, and the Info window will show you these details.

    The Info window is accessible from the Map Mini Toolbar and you can use the Shift + I keyboard shortcut. Sometimes, you are just interested in the attributes of a selected record. For this, I would recommend that you download either the Info Select Handler tool or the WindowHelper tool from the MapInfo Marketplace. They both enable you to select a record and see the attributes for that specific record in the Info window. Both tools can be downloaded from the MapInfo Marketplace directly from within MapInfo Pro.

    A lot of users edit data through MapInfo Pro. And when you have made some changes, you also need to save these changes to the table. This explains why Save Table ranks so high on the list. Like in most Windows applications, you can use Ctrl + S to access the Save Table dialog.

    Note that the dialog will show you all the tables that have unsaved edits. In this way, you can select multiple tables and save the changes to these.

    The feature Find, or Find and Mark Objects, allows you to search a table for a specific value in a table, potentially limiting the with a second refining table. Use Ctrl + F to access Find. You can also access it from the Find dropdown on the Table, Map, and Spatial tab.  First, you need to configure what table you want to use and as this originally was built for marking addresses along a street, you can use the options to control the offset.
    Once, you have configured it, you will be presented with the Find dialog like the one below where you can enter a string to search for. This can be an address or as in my example the name of a location. The dialog will show you the best match and will also show other candidates with similar spelling. When you hit OK, your map will be centered around the selected location and marks the spot with the chosen point symbol.
    If you have access to the Premium version of MapInfo Pro, an alternative to Find could be Move Map To which allows you to search for locations and addresses all over the World and then zoom to that location. In the example below, I searched for "Georgetown" and then double-clicked on "Georgetown University, DC" from the list. Notice that I have selected Zoom to Best View at the bottom of the Move To window which zooms the windows to a good fit around the selected location.

    Reshape is also used a lot. Reshape allows you to put a selected polygon or polygon in a state where you can move, delete and add nodes to the object. Use Ctrl + R to activate Reshape. Reshape can also be found on the Map Mini Toolbar. Also, note that you can only do this if the selected object is from the currently editable layer. With MapInfo Pro v2019, we made Reshape more sticky. Earlier Reshape mode was turned off if you deselected an object from the editable layer. Now it stays on until you select an object from another layer.

    The final feature from our list is the Zoom In tool. That is also one of my favorite tools. I must however admit that I have started using the scroll wheel on my mouse more as that is more accessible to me. Since MapInfo Pro v2019, the Zoom In tool is just a single keyboard click away. Hit the z key on your keyboard, and the Zoom In tool will be the active tool.

    A few years back, there was a discussion around favorite keyboard shortcuts. Have a look at that article. Maybe you can learn a few new ones. 

    I hope you found this article of interest. Do you have any good tips on shortcuts or click-saving ideas you want to share?

    Peter Horsbøll Møller
    Principal Presales Consultant | Distinguished Engineer
    Precisely | Trust in Data