How to use the Hotbox in Maya

The spacebar, in addition to being a good way to switch views from panel to panel/camera to camera, is also the button used to activate the Hotbox.

  1. While looking in the Perspective view (or a different camera, or any panel you might have open really) press and hold the Spacebar.

    What you'll see here is the Hotbox--an on-demand substitute for the menu sets that normally appear above the main window. While holding down the spacebar, you can click each menu the same way you would to access the normal menus at the top of the screen--it's essentially a "portable" version of all the menus, that appears centered on the location of your mouse. This screenshot shows the default Hotbox menu sets:
    These might be the menu sets you want to use, but they might not be, so first thing we'll do is figure out how to show the ones we do want and hide the ones we don't.

  2. For example, let's say we only want the modeling-related menu sets (that would be Polygons and Surfaces), and not most of the other menus--except, we DO want to keep the main menus (File etc.) While in the Hotbox, left-click on the box labeled Hotbox Controls.
    There's a couple of ways of doing this--for the sake of learning the Hotbox layout, we're going to do both.

    First way (Hide all and then show individually):
     To the lower left and lower right of the Hotbox Controls menu are the Show All and Hide All commands. Select Hide All and let go of the mouse.
    As you can see, this obliterates all the Hotbox menus except for Hotbox Controls and Recent Commands. Now we go back into the Hotbox Controls and start showing the menus we want. For the Polygons menu, go to Show Polygons -> Show/Hide Polygons; for Surfaces go to Show Surfaces -> Show/Hide Surfaces; for the main menus, select Show Common Menus in the bottom menu (below Show Dynamics).

    Second way (Hide individually and show individually):
     To hide the Animation menu set, go to Show Animation -> Show/Hide Animation; for the Rendering menu set, go to Show Rendering -> Show/Hide Rendering; for the Dynamics menu set, go to Show Dynamics -> Show/Hide Dynamics. To hide the custom menu set with the nCloth/effects stuff, select Show Custom Menu Set menus in the bottom menu below Show Dynamics. To show the Polygons menu, go to Show Polygons -> Show/Hide Polygons; for Surfaces go to Show Surfaces -> Show/Hide Surfaces.

    Either way, you should wind up with what we see in the following screenshot.

Other useful shortcuts: The area outside of the hotbox is divided into four areas (Top, Bottom, Left, and Right). Their borders are defined by the short diagonal lines radiating out from the edges of the Hotbox. Each of these areas will bring up a different menu when left/right clicked in:

Using the Hotbox instead of the default interface

The sheer amount of control afforded by the Hotbox allows you to, if you wish, utterly obliterate your interface and use the Hotbox for menus/commands. Let's do that right now!
  1. Go to Display -> UI Elements -> Hide All UI Elements. (Remember, you can easily do this with the Hotbox--ignore the top menus, they're going bye-bye for now.)
  2. Go to Hotbox Controls -> Window Options -> Show Main Menu Bar (gets rid of File Edit etc).
  3. Go to Hotbox Controls -> Window Options -> Show Pane Menu Bars (gets rid of the viewport menus, View Shading Lighting etc.).
This should be the result:

If you're a big 'fraidy-cat, and you want your pwecious intewface back, just repeat steps 2 and 3, and then go to Display -> UI Elements -> Show All UI Elements.