Editing and resizing the textbox of a Visio 2010 shape

Editing, resizing and rotating the textbox of a Visio shape can be tricky until you discover the Text Box Tool which lets you manipulate the text box a the selected shape.  It can be additionally challenging finding this function in the Visio 2010 ribbon but its on the ribbon Home Tab near the Pointer tool.  You can also select it with Ctrl-Shift-4.

Where it gets fun is that some shapes have protections on their text boxes that stop you moving or resizing the shapes text box.   I have generally seen this behaviour on shapes that come from inbuilt stencils e.g. the Active Directory stencil group.

It took me a while to work out where to change all this for a shape so that you can actually manipulate a shape’s text box and the secret is to edit the shape’s shapesheet.  But where do you find the shapesheet?  Its under the Developer Tab (which may not even be visible by default).

So first thing to do is ensure that the Developer Tab is visible by customizing the Ribbon and checking the Developer Check Box:

There is also guidance from Microsoft here about turning on the Developer Tab to get visibility to the shapesheet.


So now under the Developer Tab there is a Show Shapesheet button which lets you choose either the shape sheet for the selected shape, the current page or the whole document.

So on this PC shape from the Active Directory Stencil you can’t move or resize the text box because it is “guarded” with a formula in an attribute.  We need to find and change the formula in order to be able to manipulate the text box.   So we need to display the shapesheet to do this.

The shapesheet is full of all sorts of attributes that can be edited and adjusted as required but its not easy to know what to change and what the effect will be, so that’s where trial and error can be fun.  Once you display the shape’s shapesheet scroll down the shapesheet to the section on Text Transform and you will find some attributes called TxtWidth, TxtHeight, TxtPinX, and TxtPinY.  These attributes contain the  “GUARD” formulas that are preventing size manipulation of the shape’s text block.

Selecting an attribute’s value will display the full formula on a line below the ribbon.  On this line you can edit the formula to remove the word GUARD at the start of the formula and then click on the green arrow.  Do this on all four attributes that have GUARD in them and then you can move and resize the shape’s text block as much as you like.

I’m not sure why it’s considered necessary to protect the text block on these shapes but not on others but at least there is a way of adjusting it of you need to.

That only took me about 5 hours to work out.

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15 Responses to Editing and resizing the textbox of a Visio 2010 shape

  1. Anon says:

    Saved me 5 hours, thanks!

  2. JoAnn says:

    Saved me 4 hours. Thank you! 😉

  3. Mark says:

    Thank you. I was 90 minutes in and dont think i would have figured it out.

  4. Andy says:

    Saved me 4 hrs

  5. Yuriy Daybov says:

    You’re awesome! Saved me so much time!

  6. Janet says:

    I was very excited to read this solution. I have a Visio document that I created with Visio 2003 or 2007 (don’t remember which) and I’m now using the same document with Visio 2010. I have shapes with text blocks, and I cannot use the text block handles to resize the text blocks. As you suggested, I select the shape, click the “Text Block” tool, show the shape sheet, scroll to the “Text Transform” section. The existing values are TxtWidth=Width*2.1461, TxtHeight=Height@0.5683, TxtPinX=Width*0.5367, TxtPiny=Height*-0.5202, TxtLocPinX=TxtWidth*0.5, TxtLocPin&=0 mm. So nothing is guarded. I can drag to relocate the entire text block, but I cannot resize it by dragging the handles. I can see the handles, and when I hover over a handle, my pointer changes to arrows in a way that indicates I should be able to resize. But I cannot. If I select the shape and go to Developer > Protection, all protect options are UN-checked. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Kim Stahl says:

      I was also not able to see any a) guards on the Shape Sheet or b) restrictions on the Protection settings. But, when I used the “Text Box tool” that the author points out at the beginning of the article, it gave me handles I could drag to resize the text box. Thanks to the author for pointing out that tool, and hopefully my info helps someone else.

  7. Jack says:

    Thanks, saved me 5 hours as well.

  8. Jason says:

    Four years later and this post is still helping people. Thanks!

  9. Mal says:

    Thanks very much – this “feature” still exists in Visio Professional 2016. I have no idea why Microsoft decided to make things so user-unfriendly.

  10. David says:


  11. Simon Morris says:

    Thanks – that has been bugging me for ages. Helps to make timeline shapes variable size which is great. Next question – how do i save those amended timeline shapes to a stencil so i can use them again?

  12. Mark says:

    thanks pete. why couldn’t microsoft actually provide the same answer with the same search string using microsoft visio help

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