The 3ds max Window

1. Menu bar

2. Command panels

3. Object categories

4. Rollout

5. Active viewport

6. Viewport navigation controls

7. Animation playback controls

8. Animation keying controls

9. Snaps

10. Window/Crossing selection toggle

11. Keyboard shortcut override toggle

12. Absolute/Relative coordinate toggle and coordinate display

13. Prompt line and status bar

14. MAXScript mini-listener

15. Track bar

16. Time slider

17. Main toolbar

Most of the main window is occupied by the viewports, where you view and work with your scene. The remaining areas of the window hold controls and show status information.

One of the most important aspects of using 3ds max is its versatility. Many program functions are available from multiple user-interface elements. For example, you can open Track View for animation control from the Main toolbar as well as the Track View menu, but the easiest way to get to a specific object's track in Track View is to right-click the object, and then choose Track View Selected from the quad menu.

You can customize the user interface in a variety of ways: by adding keyboard shortcuts, moving toolbars and command panels around, creating new toolbars and tool buttons, and even recording scripts into toolbar buttons.

MAXScript lets you create and use custom commands in the built-in scripting language. For more information, access the MAXScript Reference file from the Help menu.

Menu Bar

A standard Windows menu bar with typical File, Edit, Views, and Help menus. Special menus include:

  • Tools contains duplicates of many of the Main toolbar commands.

  • Group contains commands for managing combined objects.

  • Create contains commands for creating objects.

  • Modifiers contains commands for modifying objects.

  • Character has tools for working with bones, linked structures and character assemblies.

  • Animation contains commands for animating and constraining objects.

  • Graph Editors provides graphical access to editing objects and animation: Track View lets you open and manage animation tracks in Track View windows, and Schematic View gives you an alternate way to work with the objects in your scene and navigate to them.

  • Rendering contains commands for rendering, Video Post, radiosity and the environment.

  • Customize gives you access to controls that let you customize the user interface.

  • MAXScript has commands for working with MAXScript, the built-in scripting language.

Tab Panel

When visible, the tab panel appears directly under the main toolbar. It holds a collection of toolbars organized by index tabs. The toolbars contain buttons for creating, selecting, transforming, and rendering geometry in a scene, as well as many other functions. Some toolbar buttons are shortcuts for menu commands; others appear only on the Main toolbar.

Click a tab to display the collection of tools on each tab. When you click a tool button, the tool's parameters appear on the command panel or in a dialog.

You can "tear off" the entire tab panel as well as individual toolbars and place them wherever you like. You can also create new functions and toolbars and set them up any way you like.

If not all of a toolbar's buttons are visible, position the mouse cursor on a blank area of the toolbar and begin dragging horizontally when the "hand" cursor appears.

You can turn on and off the tab display with the Customize menu > Show UI command. The Tab panel is on by default.

See Tab Panel.

Time Controls

The Auto Key button turns on animation mode. The other controls navigate through time and play back an animation.

Command Panel

This collection of six panels hold most of the modeling and animation features.

You can "tear off" the command panel and place it anywhere you like.

By default, the command panel is docked at the right of your screen. You can access a menu that lets you float or dismiss the command panel by right-clicking just above it. If it is not displayed, or you want to change its location and docking or floating status, right-click in a blank area on the tab panel, and choose from the shortcut menu.

  • Create holds all object creation tools.

  • Modify holds modifiers and editing tools.

  • Hierarchy holds linking and inverse kinematics parameters.

  • Motion holds animation controllers and trajectories.

  • Display holds object display controls.

  • Utilities holds miscellaneous utilities.

Status Bar and Prompt Line

These two lines display prompts and information about your scene and the active command. They also contain system toggles controlling selections, precision, and display properties. See Status Bar Controls.


You can display from one to four viewports. These can show multiple views of the same geometry, as well as the Track View, Schematic View, and other informational displays. See Viewports.

Viewport Navigation Buttons

The button cluster at the lower-right of the main window contains controls for zooming, panning, and navigating within the viewports. See Viewport Controls.