Visio 2013 Connector Text Block Background Color

I recently switched from Visio 2010 to Visio 2013, and while I quite enjoy the fluidity of 2013’s UI, some of the changes have had me run in circles before finding the 2013 equivalent for 2010 features I already knew. Here’s one of them:

Working on a diagram of our DNS server setup I wanted to adjust the background color of the connector text block. There are many good tutorials on the web on how to accomplish the same in Visio 2010… but in Visio 2013 the “Format” context menu option is gone, and there’s “Format Shape” which opens the Format Shape sidebar which has no options to adjust the text block’s background color.

A text block with the default white background.
A text block with the default white background.

Finally after clicking around for some time I found the new hiding place of the Text Block options. Here’s how:

First left click on the connector to select it; the green and yellow selector indicators show up:


Then click on the little symbol in the lower right corner of Home > Font, or Home > Paragraph area in the ribbon bar. This opens up the text dialog (with ‘Font’ or ‘Paragraph’ tab selected, depending on which area you clicked). Select the “Text Block” tab, and you’ll see “Text background” options:


Now the earlier tutorials I mentioned apply. If you select “None” for the background, or set its Transparency to 100%, you’ll get an undesirable effect:


The better option is to use some color picker tool like Nattyware’s free pixie (or one of many other alternatives) to sample the color surrounding the text block and then set the Solid color value to match (with Transparency set to 0%). Or, if you use standard colors in your diagram, select the same standard color for the text block background. Now it looks a lot better:

The little arrow symbols in the lower right corners of various Ribbon areas are good to get to know — lots of options hide behind them! For example, the arrow symbols in Design > Page Setup, or View > Visual Aids open dialogs to many everyday workflow options that are frequently needed.

Finally, couple of other Visio tips. A blog post Work Faster With Our Visio Keyboard Shortcuts by “Visio Guy” outlines the navigation shortcuts that also work with Visio 2013. Mastering and memorizing them makes Visio use a pleasure!

Another task that I frequently run into while using Visio is the need to replace an object, say, a square with another such as a diamond, for example. Visio does not allow you to do this natively. You’ll have to delete the object, reconnect all the connectors, etc. If you have many objects to replace, it translates to a lot of work. Then I found Paul Herber’s Super Utilities and Tools for Visio. Among its many features, there is “Shape substitute” command that does exactly that — very handy!