Can you change the origin of a shape?

Can you change the origin of a shape in OmniGraffle?

When I use the rulers and place a shape on my canvas by typing the numbers into the Geometry of the Inspector it moves the shape to that point in reference to the rulers. It appears to be relative to the top left of the shape. But I can’t find where I can change this reference or origin point of the shape.

This is particularly a problem when trying to place a circle precisely. It’s natural to do this relative to the center of the circle and not relative to the top left portion of the circle.

I’m also seeking this functionality!

Objects Geo points default to upper left. However, if you click on the reference (the line with the arrow to the left of the box) it will change to horizontal center, then right or from top to vertical center to bottom.

The reference point should be in blue (as opposed to the width/height which are black).



To be clear, there are two separate questions, and we need to be precise, so that the question and the answer can be properly understood.

First, you should always** use a Grid, and have it set up for your particular use.

Then yes, the alignment of all Shapes to the Grid can be set:

  1. At the Canvas level, by choosing the radio button to { Centre | Edge }OnGrid. Such that every future Shape is aligned as such.
  2. Further, a non-Aligned Shape of collection of Shapes can be Aligned by Selecting them, and hitting the AlignToGrid button
  3. The third way is that which you mention: typing the numbers into Properties/Geometry Inspector.
  4. Single Shapes can also be positioned (aligned) by entering the numbers in the ruler

Here is the OG 5 Canvas/Grid Inspector.

  • Grid Inspector

  • I expect that the same functionality exists in later releases, but possibly not in the same location in the GUI. Refer to @ScoutsHonor’s post above.

No. I accept that that may be natural in some instances, but others will find that left-alignment is natural to them. Especially when the diagram has multiple columns of Shapes: I can’t recall ever using CentreOnGrid.

In either case, precise alignment is dead simple, by any of [1][2][3][4] above.


Whereas Alignment refers to a Shape on the Grid of the Canvas, Origin refers to the Ruler in relation to the Canvas. Origin is of course zero on the Ruler. Notice the default Origin for the Rulers on the Canvas is: X=0, Y=0, aligned with the top left of the Canvas. (The pink lines are my Frame for Shape Alignment):

Assuming that you do not want that, that you want the Origin of the Rulers to be somewhere else, (eg) for the purpose of typing in the numbers into the Properties/Geometry Inspector, you can move Origin. Just pick up and drag the Origin, the square where the vertical Ruler meets the horizontal Ruler. Here I have moved the Origin of the Ruler on the Canvas to X=1.4cm, Y=2.4cm (to match my Frame):

In order to get a feel for the Origin, as well as working with Rulers, grab a Shape and move it off the Canvas, eg. to Y=-6. Notice the Origin; the Rulers; the values in the Properties/Geometry Inspector.


Just a note on OG 7.x:
The Grid settings for the canvas have changed and the Align option are now on the Object Inspector tab instead of the Canvas.

Current Canvas Grid Settings:
Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 11.01.53

Object Settings:
Screen Shot 2021-01-14 at 11.03.55

The two buttons on the far right are for Center on Grid (top) and Center Edge on Grid≥ (bottom). What I don’t see is a way to control which edge aligns to the gride (left, right, top, bottom) or if it attempts to resize so all edges are aligned to the grid.

1. Grid Inspector
I don’t see how the settings have changed.

  • [Before you go to the Alignment Inspector with that assumption.] Well, that is the correct location for those two radio buttons. It is global setting: when I place any shape on the Grid, it will be Centre- or Edge-Aligned. I definitely do not want to set that for each and every Shape that I draw.
  • I would say, assuming it has not be dropped, but only moved to some other Inspector, go and find out where in heavens name Omni put the darn thing in OG 7 (eg. manual).
  • I would have thought that OG 7 has at least the functionality of OG 5, and hopefully a bit more. But it must be noted that the folks at Omni have a bad habit of deleting functionality in each new release. I hope they have not done that to the default Shape Alignment buttons.

2. Alignment Inspector
That should be called the Alignment & Distribution Inspector.

That is not “object settings” (object settings are in the Property Inspector). This Inspector does something completely different. Strictly speaking, it is an action tool, not an Inspector. It’s purpose is to:

________• align or distribute a bunch of Objects (not a Group, which is a single Object), relative to each other.

  • Secondarily, if a Grid is used, then you want that aligned/distributed bunch of Objects SnapToGrid{ Centre | Edge }.

  • You have not Selected a bunch of Objects, so the Inspector is greyed out. I dare not assume what those buttons or indicators are.

  • Here is the OG 5 Canvas/Alignment [&Distribution] Inspector with a bunch of Objects Selected:

    • Alignment Inspector

Going left-to-right:

  • one uses the compass to tell OG what point in each Object is to be alligned (I have chosen top, let)
  • the next pair of buttons (they are buttons) perform Align{ Top | Left } on the bunch of Objects
  • the next pair of buttons are used to distribute the bunch of Objects evenly, between the left-most and the right-most (without moving those two reference-point Objects)
  • the next two fields are for horizontal and vertical spacing between the Objects, if you use …
  • the next pair of buttons perform Distribute{ Horizontal | Vertical } on the bunch of Objects

I am sure you can figure out what the symbols on the equivalent OG7 Inspector are. Again, I expect that OG 7 has at least the same functionality as OG 5, plus a bit more.

Ok. They are ugly as sin, but ok.

Once you have some Objects Selected, I think you can figure that out. The switch at the very top has some kind of governing function. The six symbols on the left (they may be buttons) are:

  • Top, VerticalCentre, Bottom

  • Left, HorizontalCentre, Right

  • Now that all that is explained, you are right about the two active buttons on the right. And that OG moved the { Centre | Edge }OnGrid radio buttons from the Grid Inspector to the Alignment/Distribution Tool.

    • I trust it has the same function as OG 5 (apply to all future Shapes), otherwise OG 7 demands a hell of a lot more keystrokes to do the same work.
  • Ok so it is a Tool & Inspector.

Definitely not. This is the Align/Distribute Tool, not the resize tool.

One cannot align (eg) both the left and the right sides of a Shape to the Grid (and there is no need to), because each shape may not be a size that is Grid-width and Grid-height.

Yes, you are right thinking about that, For really great diagrams, all the Shapes must be Grid-width and Grid-height. But that is something done consciously when constructing the Shapes. And you definitely do not want the app resizing Shapes.