Scene Explorer in 3ds Max

December 9, 2022 Renu Muthoo

A scene in 3ds Max contains a variety of objects including geometry objects, light objects, cameras, helpers and what not. There are times that each scene can have hundreds if not thousands of objects. Therefore, managing, navigating, and selecting individual objects can become overwhelming. So, what do you do? 

You can use the Scene Explorer in the 3ds Max software to easily sort, filter, and select objects. In addition, you can delete, hide, freeze, and rename objects conveniently. In this blog post, I discuss how to manage and organize scene objects using the Scene Explorer. 


  • The Scene Explorer lists all of the objects that are present in a scene in the form of a tree structure, along with each object’s properties displayed in a tabular form. 

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  • By default, the Scene Explorer is docked along the left side of the viewport. You can float it or dock it to top, bottom, left, or right by right-clicking on its handle and selecting the required option. 

  • You can drag and drop the Scene Explorer by its handle to float or dock it. 

  • It is a modeless dialog box that remains open while you are working in the scene. 

  • You can open and manage the Scene Explorer from the Tools menu bar. 

  • Click, hold, and drag one of the drawing tabs out of the File Tabs bar as a new floating drawing window. Note how both the drawings display on the screen.  

  • A default Scene Explorer is included for each workspace and can be saved with a specific name with that workspace. 

  • The objects can be toggled to be displayed either as hierarchies () or as layers (). 

  • Objects and layers can be nested to any depth. Use the arrow next to the name to expand or collapse the group. 

  • You can perform actions and modifications such as sorting, filtering, selecting, renaming, hiding, and freezing objects, directly in the Scene Explorer. 

  • You can drag and drop objects and layers to reorganize the groups.  

  • A toolbar is provided along the left edge of the Scene Explorer, which enables you to list only the objects belonging to a specific category.  

  • There are tools for various categories such as (Display Geometry), (Display Cameras), (Display Lights), etc.  

  • When the tool for a category is active (i.e., displays with a blue background), the objects belonging to that category are listed.  

  • The (Display All) tool lists all of the different categories of objects.  

  • To list only the objects belonging to a specific category, first use (Display None) to clear any existing selections, and then select the required display category.  

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  • To select an object: 

  • To select an individual object, locate it in the tree list and select it. It gets selected in the viewports interactively.  

  • To select multiple objects, use <Ctrl> and click on the required objects in the list. 


  • To easily find and select an item, you can use the Find field in the Scene Explorer. Enter the initial letters to select only the objects that begin with the entered letters. 

I hope that you will find the Scene Explorer handy and easy to use. To better understand the working of the Scene Explorer, I have provided a section along with a hands-on practice in the Autodesk 3ds Max 2023 Fundamentals learning guide.  

About the Author

Renu Muthoo

Learning Content Developer<br><br>Renu has worked with Autodesk products for the past 20 years with a main focus on design visualization software. Renu holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and started her career as an Instructional Designer/Author where she co-authored a number of Autodesk 3ds Max and AutoCAD books, some of which were translated into other languages for a wide audience reach. In her next role as a Technical Specialist at a 3D visualization company, Renu used 3ds Max in real-world scenarios on a daily basis. There, she developed customized 3D web planner solutions to create specialized 3D models with photorealistic texturing and lighting to produce high quality renderings.

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