Tutorial: How to use the 3D Virtual Cell software (desktop version)

1. Home screen

Whenever you open the program, the initial screen will display the animal cell model. To switch the model, just click the buttons located in the left menu: animal cell, plant cell, euglena, paramecium, bacterium, virus and DNA.

2. Control panel

The buttons on the right side of the screen allow you to perform a number of functions. Here’s how each of them works:


Allows you to switch the language (currently available: English, Spanish and Portuguese), set mouse/touchscreen sensitivity and select the font size of the labels.

Background color

Switches the background color from dark to light, making it easier to see structures.

Window / Full Screen

Select how you prefer the software to appear on your computer screen.


This button closes the program.


Move the cell model to the sides, up and down. You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Half / Full

This button allows you to split the cell in half, to facilitate observation of the internal structures.

Zoom control

Controls the size of the image on the screen. You can also use the “+” and “-” keys or the mouse wheel. Note that the scale values vary as the zoom is changed.

3. Captions

Hovering the mouse over any structure will highlighted it (red) and display a caption in your chosen language.

Note: two quick clicks on a structure will center it on the screen.

4. Touchscreen

If you are using the software on a touch screen, some functions can be triggered with specific commands:

Drag one finger

Shows structures’ captions

Two quick taps with one finger

Centralizes a structure

Drag two fingers

Rotates the model

Drag three fingers

Move the model


Zoom control