Maximize Time, Minimize Effort with Custom Categories Does Creating a Custom Category Maximize Time and Minimize Effort?

SmartDraw has so many features, that sometimes even our own employees forget some of what it can do. This week’s spotlight is about one such feature: Custom Categories. In our previous post titled, “How to Increase Productivity Using Custom Template,” we took a look at customizing at the template level.  In addition you are able to customize SmartDraw at the highest level – the Category level.  You can add templates and documents that you create into a Custom Category. By creating Custom Categories you have direct access to what you need when you need it.

Benefits of Custom Categories

  • Organize groups of template types or specific documents based on any topic or project you’re working on
  • Add a new category called “Custom Categories” in the Home Screen for easy access (like a bookmark)
  • Increase collaboration and consistency by sharing your Custom Category with colleagues
  • Limit the time spent searching for the templates or documents you use most
  • SmartDraw saves your Custom Categories until you decide to delete them

Custom Categories Based on Frequency

spotlight_custom categories sphere

There are activities or tasks that you are accountable for on a regular basis such as status reports and presentations.  On the other hand, you have infrequent responsibilities such as completing performance reviews and submitting annual reports.  Regardless of frequency, you can easily create Custom Categories that are tailored to your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual business needs.  Taking the time upfront to create Custom Categories will maximize your time and minimize the efforts of you and your colleagues.

Custom Categories Based on Your Role

Another approach you may want to take is to design Custom Categories based on your roles and responsibilities.  Let’s take a look at a manager’s role as depicted in the venn diagram (below).  We could easily organize templates and documents under the major topics or areas of responsibility that a manager is held accountable for.  The mind map (below) is an example of Custom Categories that an individual in a management role may want to create.

spotlight_custom categories vennspotlight_custom categories mindmap

Create a New Category


  1. In the Left Panel of the Home Screen, click Add Category.
  2. Select Create New Category.
  3. Enter the appropriate name in the Enter name for the new custom category field.  Click OK. Note: A new category titled “Custom Categories” appears near the top of the Left Panel.

Add a Template to a Custom Category


  1. Locate the appropriate template you’d like to add to your Custom Category. Right-click, then hover over Add to Custom Category.
  2. In the sub-menu, select the appropriate Custom Category.  Note: You also have the option to create a new custom category if the existing options do not meet your business needs.

Export or Share a Custom Category


  1. In the Left Panel, navigate to the Custom Categories.
  2. Right-click, select Export Category.  Click Save. Note: You will be saving a Custom Category Archive (.STZ) opposed to a standard (.SDR) file type.
  3. Prompt a new email and attach the .STZ file.

Import a Category


  1. Navigate to the appropriate email (sample email show above).
  2. Double-click on the attached .STZ file.  Click Open.  A new instance of SmartDraw launches.   Note: The imported Custom Category will automatically appear in your Custom Categories.


  1. Save the .STZ file to your computer.
  2. Navigate to the bottom of the Left Panel of the Home Screen.  Click Add Category.
  3. Select Import Category. Locate the .STZ file. Click Open. Note: The Custom Category will be saved in your Custom Categories.

Delete a Custom Category


  1. In the Left Panel, navigate to the Custom Categories.
  2. Right-click, select Delete Category. Click OK.  Note: You are only able to delete custom categories that you create or import.

CLICK HERE for a pdf of the instructions above: SmartDraw Custom Categories Job Aide