TwinCAT System Manager: Controls

Main Menus

The control elements, more precisely the menu bar and the toolbar of the TwinCAT System Manager are described below. Some menu items and buttons were added with TwinCAT 2.8 and 2.9.

The menu bar comprises the following six options:

File, Edit, Actions, View, Options and ? (Help).

Where present, the toolbar icons are displayed next to their corresponding menu item.

Main Menus 1:

The name of the currently active TwinCAT System Manager project is displayed in the header (or as "Untitled", if a new project has not yet been saved with a name).

The normal Windows control elements also appear in the right-hand corner of the title bar:

Main Menus 2: Moves the System Manager to the task bar without closing the project

Main Menus 3: / Main Menus 4: Minimizes resp. maximizes  the System Manager window.

Main Menus 5: Exits / closes the TwinCAT System Manager application.



As the TwinCAT System Manager is context-sensitive, not all menu items are active at all times!


”File” menu

Main Menus 6:

New   Main Menus 7:

Creates a new System Manager project (blank configuration).

Open    Main Menus 8:

Opens a dialogue for the selection of an existing saved System Manager project.

Open Currently Active    Main Menus 9:

Opens the project file whose configuration is currently active in the TwinCAT system.

Save    Main Menus 10:

Saves the current configuration in a TwinCAT System Manager *.wsm file (respectively *.tsm file under TwinCAT 2.9).

Save As

Saves the current configuration in a *.wsm file with user-defined name and location.


At TwinCAT version 2.9, a new file format (Structured Storage) was implemented for saving of TwinCAT System Manager configurations. This new file format gets the file extension *.tsm.
Alternatively, also under TwinCAT 2.9, configurations can be opened from WSM-files or saved into files with *.wsm extension. To achieve this, the appropriate extension is to be selected at "Save as type:"  in the  "Save As.." dialog.    

Enable Compression

To be lenient with the limited resources on devices of the CX1000 and BXxxxx classes, an optional compression feature for saving of *.tsm configurations has been implemented at TwinCAT 2.9.
"Enable Compression" is activated by default and achieves, depending on the project, a space saving of 80% and more.


Under this new menu item at TwinCAT 2.9, extended document information regarding the System Manager project can be found and edited.     

Print    Main Menus 11:

Opens Printing dialog if high-lighted. Printable section required. 

Print Preview    Main Menus 12:

Presents view of the selected window which is prepared for printing (depending upon selected area of the System Manager).

Printer Set-up

Opens the printer settings dialogue box.


Closes the TwinCAT System Manager.

”Edit” menu

Main Menus 13:


Reverses the last action.

Cut   Main Menus 14:

Copies selected object to the clipboard and removes it from the current configuration.

Copy    Main Menus 15:

Copies selected object to the clipboard.

Paste   Main Menus 16:

Inserts elements from the clipboard to the current position.

Paste with Links    Main Menus 17:

Inserts elements with present variable links from the clipboard into the current position.


Not all functions are available at all times. 

”Actions” menu

Main Menus 18:

Generate Mappings   Main Menus 19:

Creates assignment between two process images.

Check Configuration   Main Menus 20:

Checks the current configuration for plausibility.

Activate Configuration    Main Menus 21:

This menu item, until TwinCAT v2.8 known as "Save to Registry" where this function saved the configuration indeed into the Windows Registry, saves the current configuration into a XML file which is located under \TwinCAT\Boot and has the file name "CurrentConfig.xml".  Pressing this button initiates the saving of the file and activates the configuration by a TwinCAT system (re)start. This function can be also executed from the Command Line without opening the System Manager.

Set/Reset TwinCAT to Run Mode   Main Menus 22:

Starts/restarts the local TwinCAT system with the currently activated configuration (see also: "Activate Configuration"). During this procedure, an eventually configured PLC Bootproject is loaded and started if the necessary "Auto Boot" box is checked (see also: TwinCAT System -> User Interface -> TwinCAT System Control ). This functionality is also available through the Command Line interface without opening the System Manager.

Set/Reset TwinCAT to Config Mode   Main Menus 23:

Starts/restarts the remote TwinCAT configuration. This functionality is needed e.g. for the configuration of the Beckhoff CX1000 series because this type of devices has usually  no local TwinCAT System Manager tool for configuration (see also: "Choose Target System").

Reload Devices   Main Menus 24:

Rescans the I/O configuration at the selected target system and displays it in the System Manager tree view.

Choose Target System   Main Menus 25:

With this item you can select the appropriate target system, where the configuration has to be made for (see also: "Set/Reset TwinCAT to Config Mode").

Read Target Server Versions

Reads the current TwinCAT server versions available on the prior selected target system.

Update Bus Coupler/IP Link Firmware

Updates the Firmware of Beckhoff Bus Couplers or Fieldbus Boxes through serial COM port.

Access Bus Coupler/IP Link Register   Main Menus 26:

The user can access any available register at a Bus Coupler or Fieldbus Box module via COM port or TCP/IP address after entering the necessary information in the upcoming dialog.

Export XML Description

Saves the configuration data of the currently highlighted tree item as a XML Description file to disk.

Import XML Description

Imports the configuration data of a previously saved XML Description file into the current System Manager configuration.

Check Variable Links

Validates the current mapping information.

”View” menu

Main Menus 27:


Displays or hides the tool bar.

Status Bar

Displays or hides the status bar. The status bar is displayed at the lower edge of the main window.


Activates a movement off a dividing line between the tree view and the dialogues in the System Manager main window.

Show Logger Output   Main Menus 28:

Displays or removes the Logger Window at the lower edge of the System Manager.

Show Watch Window   Main Menus 29:

Displays/removes the Watch Window within the System Manager.

Show Current Real Time Capacity     Main Menus 30:

Displays/removes the real time load of the (starting) TwinCAT system in the lower right-hand corner of the main window.

Show Online Data    Main Menus 31:

Displays/removes the online data of the configured variables. The current configuration for a display must be active, i.e. saved, in the registry and the TwinCAT system must be started.

Show Sub Variables    Main Menus 32:

Displays the sub-variables of variables.

Show Expert Mode   Main Menus 33:

Displays or removes seldom used parameters for various settings dialogues in the System Manager.

”Options” menu

Main Menus 34:


Opens the selection menu to select one of the languages of the country supported by the TwinCAT System Manager.

Check PLC Project Changes

If this option is selected, a message box appears when saving configuration changes to PLC projects. This message box requests the PLC Configuration to be re-loaded in.

Open Logger Automatically   Main Menus 35:

Automatically opens the Logger Window when System Manager is started and displays current TwinCAT events.

Open last Used File

Automatically opens the last saved *.wsm file when System Manager is started.

Select Last Tree Element

Automatically opens the last saved display of the configuration tree.

Generate BAK-File

When this option is selected a ”Current Name”.bak file is created as a backup file with each saving.

Auto Save to Target

When this option is selected, additionally to the local system the configuration is also saved to the target system (e.g. when configuring a CX1000 or BXxxxx).  By default, the configuration is saved in a zipped version. See also: "Enable Compression".

Show Real-Time Ethernet Compatible Devices

SeeReference | "Ethernet Miniport (Real-Time)"

Change PCMCIA Base Address

Opens settings dialogue to change the PC Card base address. After making changes it is necessary to restart Windows.

”Help” menu (?)

Main Menus 36:

Help Topics   Main Menus 37:

Opens the TwinCAT System Manager Help files. Help is a part of the Beckhoff Information System. If you require an English version of Help, you need to install the English language Beckhoff Information System.

Help Context   Main Menus 38:

When the Beckhoff Information System is installed, opens the Help page relating to the area selected in the System Manager.

About TwinCAT System Manager    Main Menus 39:

Calls up information about the current installed version of the TwinCAT System Manager.


Other buttons on the tool bar:

Find Main Menus 40:

Opens device search dialog within the System Manager.

Search Devices    Main Menus 41:    

If in the System Manager TreeView on the left-hand side "I/O Devices" (below  I/O - Configuration) is marked, with this button a device scan procedure is started. It starts with searching available I/O devices and, if those are found, continuous with attached "boxes" and - if applicable - Bus Terminals or IP-Link extension modules.


TwinCAT 2.9 is necessary for this feature and the target system has to be in "Config Mode" to search for devices (the current mode is shown in the lower right corner of the System Manager Main Window).

Toggle Free Run State   Main Menus 42:    

After enabling this button, and if the target system is currently in Config Mode, found I/O devices can be set to Free-Run mode. Means, e.g. I/O channels of Bus Terminals can be set (written) to a certain status without having any PLC project or other triggering task active.


If the target system has been in Run-Mode before,  "Reload Devices" has to be executed once before the I/o drivers for the device can be set to Free-Run state.   

Full expand tree below selected item    Main Menus 43:        

After pushing this button, the entry marked in the TreeView will be shown in the fully expanded view.