SOLIDWORKS: PDM 101 – File Types and Duplicate File Control

An often overlooked area of SOLIDWORKS PDM is the File Type options found in the admin tool. These options allow you to control how duplicate files are handled in your vault. You can disallow all duplicates or only include certain file types. There are a couple other settings, but those are only required if you use items or if your drawing previews need troubleshooting. The main reason for opening file types is to configure duplicate file rules.

Before we dive into what you can do with files types, let’s talk about what is under the File Types node. The list that you see in the image below will be different for each environment. It is populated as you add different files to your vault. It is common to see dozens of extensions. They will persist even if you remove all files of a certain type. It is essentially a list of every file that has been added to the vault throughout its history.

Duplicate File Options

You can control the duplicate file options in two ways, globally or individually. Let’s take a closer look at both options.

When you right click on the file types node, you will see three options. Select “Duplicate file name settings”.

By default, duplicates are allowed in the vault. If you wish to limit duplicates, you will need to select one of the other two options (“Do not allow…” or “Do not allow…with these extensions”).

Restrict Duplicates Globally

If you select the second option, no duplicate files are allowed to be checked in.

This brings up an important note of how the system checks for duplicates. It only checks during the “add” operation. So, if you decide to turn this on after your vault is in use, any duplicate files that may already be in the system are grandfathered in. If you attempt to add any more duplicates, the system will warn you. For example, I did a copy and paste of a PDF in my vault where no duplicates are allowed. I am greeted with this warning immediately after I paste (or add) the copied file.

This message box tells me what files I am adding that are already in the vault (left column). It is also telling me were all the matching files exist in the system (right column). This message box is only a warning. You cannot fix duplicates from here, it is just giving you a heads up. Once you select close, you will need to resolve the duplication. You can do this by simply renaming the new file(s) or you can delete the pre-existing files. You will not be able to check the duplicate file in until it is resolved. If you attempt to check it in, you will see “File Name is not unique” in the Warnings column of the dialog box

Restrict Duplicates Individually

In some environments, you may need to allow duplicates for certain file types. The most common extensions for this are images and PDF’s, but your mileage may vary. We often see jpegs or BMP’s with high duplicate counts. This can be caused by how a digital camera saves the images, or there may be a need for duplication (i.e., copies of manuals, etc). In either case, we would use the third option and generate a list of file types to monitor for duplicates.

When this option is selected, a text box is enabled below. This will contain the list of extensions to watch. You can type these manually or add them individually from the specific file type. In either case, the extensions will be listed.

If you want to add them individually, you can select the option from the file type. Let’s say I want to prevent duplicate SOLIDWORKS part files. Locate the sldprt file type and right click – select properties

From the properties box, select “Do not allow duplicate…”.

The extension will be automatically added to the list.

Note: you can only include extensions, you cannot exclude. In other words, you can’t “check for duplicates for all file types, except pdf”. You would have to list all file types and remove the options you do not want checked during file add.


We have shown you how to control duplicates either globally or individually based on file type. But you might be wondering, “How many duplicate files do I have?” There is a report for that and you can find more information here.

Many of our clients have a duplicate file issue. By restricting duplicates, you can stem the tide. And by running the duplicate file report, you can start to clean up and repair your duplicated files. These are important steps in keeping your vault healthy and preventing future duplication. Can you get to zero duplicate files? Let us know how many duplicates you have in the comments below.

(Virtual high-five to the commenter with the highest total).


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