Network Diagrams: OmniGraffle Tip – Merging Shapes

In OmniGraffle, you often want to merge shapes together to create a single object, but you don’t want to lose resolution and you want them to scale properly. Grouping doesn’t help, but this does.

This is quick way to merge shapes into a single flat object without losing the possibility to edit them in the future, and allows them to scale correctly:

  1. Select the elements you want to merge
  2. Group them together if there are multiple elements.
  3. Right click, Copy as > PDF.
  4. Paste the PDF (Edit > Paste, or CTRL+V)

This will place the exact same shapes without any quality loss, but you don’t have to deal with groups or anything, also great if you want to get things out of the way.

The Process

Start by selecting the object you want to use:

Omnigraffle merge 1

Then right click to group it together:

Omnigraffle merge 2

Then right click to Copy as PDF

Omnigraffle merge 3

Then right click to Paste

Omnigraffle merge 4

You now have two identical looking objects, except that one is a raster and the other is a PDF file.

Omnigraffle merge 5

If you scale each image up (I’ve made a copy of the original to show the problem of scaling up the original image. In the PDF version the fonts, and all graphics scale up as you would expect, while the original group does not.

Omnigraffle merge 6

Special Feature:

Double Click the PDF element and it will open a new OmniGraffle file with the original shapes in it. Edit them and save, it will change the PDF element in your main file. If you paste various PDF objects, they all will be updated.

So you can keep updating your object in the future. Omnigraffle merge 7

The Etherealmind View

Love me some OmniGraffle on the Mac.

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • Gary Yuen

    hey this is awesome, thanks for the tips. I hate changing the font and the styling each time.

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