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Using The Outliner

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The outliner lets you see a list of all the objects in the scene. No matter if they're hidden, templated, or anything at all they will appear in the outliner.

Opening The Outliner

Opening it can't get any easier than going to window>outliner.

Using The Outliner

Now let's see how the outliner is helpful.


Step one - Create a sphere.

Step two - Open the outliner by going to window>outliner.

Now select the sphere and go to display>hide>hide selection. The sphere will now be hidden. But let's say we want to show that sphere again. In the outliner, select the sphere. Normally we wouldn't be able to select the sphere because it's hidden. Now go to display>show>show selection. The sphere will now be visible again in the view port. Since the outliner is so useful, whenever working with scenes that have a lot of objects, try using the persp/outliner panel view. To access this go to window>saved layouts>persp/outliner.

Filtering Objects Shown In The Outliner

Okay - let's add a curve to this scene. Go to create>NURBS primatives>circle. Now that we have created a NURB curve, you can see it in the outliner. Let's say we only want to see the NURB curve, not the cameras or the poly sphere that we already have.

Step one - On the outliner menu, go to show>objects>NURBS objects. Notice that the symbol changes in the outliner. Also now you can only see your NURB curve in the outliner.

click to enlarge

Step two - To see the rest of the objects in the scene, go to, on the outliner menu set, show>objects>clear below.

Alphabetizing The Outliner

You can use the outliner to list the objects alphabetially. On the outliner menu, go to display>sort order>alphabetical within type.

Another way to reposition the objects in the outliner is to middle mouse button drag them into the order that you want. Example; You put the models that you'll be selecting frequently on top and the less used ones on the bottom. Also, if you middle mouse button drag and drop an object on top of another object, the object that you dragged will become a child of the object that you dropped it on (this is the same thing as using the parent command by selecting to two objects and going to edit>parent.The last object you selected will be the parent object).

Seeing All The Objects In The Scene

At the moment you may only think that you have a curve, a sphere, and some cameras in your scene. But, in every Maya scene there are countless amounts of nodes. Even if you never see them or create them. To see these nodes, go to, on the outliner menu set, display> and uncheck DAG objects only (DAG objects are objects that have translation and can be seen in your view port). As you can see, there are a lot of nodes in Maya that you never see.

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