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Application Interaction

Is there a limit on rows/columns from my OLE spreadsheet?

There is a limit, and that limitation is not necessarily AutoCAD's fault. To see a graphical example of this, select a large range in the spreadsheet, then look at the clipboard viewer.  You will find the clipboard viewer in the accessories or system tools section of the Windows start menu.  If you don't have this program you will need to use the Add/Remove Programs applet of the Windows Control Panel to add it.   It will be in the System Tools section of the Windows Setup tab.

When you look at the clipboard viewer, you should see that the Windows clipboard has limited the data when presented in certain 'flavors'. When you use the ole link, you lose rows and/or columns.

If the link is not required, you may be able to get more of the data into AutoCAD by using the Paste Special option from the menu and choosing an option like 'AutoCAD Objects'.

Shaking the OLE from Excel Graphs

When you paste pie/bar graphs from Excel into AutoCAD, they can exhibit all the problems of a typical OLE insert, including plot rotation, etc. Use this procedure to 'shake off' the OLE.

  1. In Excel, copy your graph to the clipboard.
  2. In AutoCAD, issue the PASTESPEC command, choose Excel Chart, your only choice at this point.
  3. In AutoCAD, right click on the chart and choose CUT.
  4. In AutoCAD, issue the PASTESPEC command again, choose AutoCAD entities.
  5. Erase the outer border and background solid to reveal a good looking collection of native geometry


How do I control the prompt order for attributes?

When building the block definition, the selection order is the key.  If you simply window off the geometry there is a good possibility the prompt order will not be as desired.  When selecting objects for a block definition, first individually pick the attribute definitions individually in the order you want to be prompted, then select the rest of the geometry.

Importing Block Definitions

If you want to bring in only the definition of a block (such as a symbol on disk), you can use this little known trick.  After issuing the insert command and selecting the file, press the ESC key at the first (insertion point) prompt.  You will have the definition in the current drawing for latter use.

Add Descriptions to Blocks

Later versions of AutoCAD have the ability to add descriptions to the block definitions in the drawing.

  1. Issue the BLOCK command.
  2. Select the block from the list at top.
  3. Click in the lower 'Description' section and enter the description.
  4. Choose OK to redefine the block with the new description.

Building a block with fields (2006+)

This procedure will explain how to create a coordinate label block that updates as you move or copy it.

  1. Issue the BEDIT (block edit) command.
  2. Enter the desired name, like COORDBLOCK and chose OK.
  3. Draw the desired point identifying geometry, such as a circle at 0,0 with a radius of 0.25.
  4. Issue the ATTDEF command.
  5. Turn on the Preset toggle in the upper left, this makes for faster inserts as AutoCAD won't prompt for the attribute values (which is automatic anyway).
  6. Enter NORTHING for the tag and prompt fields.
  7. To the right of the Value field, click the 'Insert Field' button.
  8. In the Field Names list on the left, click 'BlockPlaceholder', this is a special area only available during block building.
  9. In the middle column, choose the 'Position' property.
  10. In the right column, format your output as desired. In this example turn off the X & Z fields and 'Current Units' is the recommended value. While you can lock the precision to a fixed number of places, it's not easy to modify a field based attribute later.
  11. Choose OK after completing the field formatting.
  12. Change 'Text Options' as desired. For this example we are only changing the height to 1.0.
  13. Most likely you will want to turn off the 'Lock Position' toggle so you can move the attribute after the insert.
  14. Choose OK to complete the first attribute. When prompted for the insertion point, pick a location or enter coordinates such as 1.0,1.2 for this example.
  15. Repeat at step 5 for the EASTING & ELEVATION field attributes, the only other difference being that the 'Align below previous' toggle should be turned on to make positioning easier.
  16. Issue the BCLOSE command or choose the 'Close Block Editor' button at the top.
  17. Choose Yes to save the changes.

At this point the COORDBLOCK is defined and ready to insert. As you insert them into the drawing the coordinates are filled in automatically. After moving an insert issue the REGEN command to update the values.  To make the block available for inserting into other drawings, it will need to be WBLOCKED to a separate DWG file.

  1. Issue the WBLOCK command.
  2. Choose the Block button and select COORDBLOCK in the list.
  3. Click the [...] in lower right to specify a filename.
  4. Changing the Insert Units to 'Unitless' is recommended.

Adding Attributes to Blocks

To add an attribute to a block that's already defined (and used) in the drawing, simply issue the BEDIT command, select the block defined and use the ATTDEF command. It's likely you will want to turn on the "Align below previous attribute definition" toggle. Then close the Block Editor and Save Changes.

The most important consideration now is that existing inserts don't have a placeholder for your new attribute! AutoCAD's built in ATTSYNC command can correct this. Issue the command, press enter to <Select> and pick any insert of your block, press enter to confirm. All the instances of your insert now display the newly added attribute with the default value. You can now simply double-click an insert to change the value in the enhanced attribute editor.

Block Base

When designing blocks, it's always best to create the geometry centered around the origin of 0,0. Sometimes users can create a block from geometry in model space and it ends up difficult to use when inserting the block.

To correct this, issue the BEDIT command, select the misbehaving block, then use the move command to move the block elements to 0,0. You may need to use a specific base point (such as the midpoint of a feature) to 0,0.

Block Geometry Properties

The component geometry used to create blocks should be created with a layer of 0, and other properties (especially color) set to a BYBLOCK setting. That way it will take on the properties of the layer it's inserted onto, or the specific properties you specify in the properties dialog.

Failure to do this can mean confusion. For example if you create your block geometry on layer BLOCKGEOM, then insert them on a layer like INSERTS, you will find that layer INSERTS cannot be purged, even though there are no visible objects (when the layer BLOCKGEOM is frozen). In this case the invisible insertion point prevents the layer purging.

Cloning Blocks

You can use AutoCAD's Block Editor to create copies of a block. Simply issue the BEDIT command, choose the source block, then use the Block Editors 'Save Block As' icon and designate the new name.


Inserting Drawings, Consider the BASE

When inserting blocks (or entire drawings) from a seperate DWG file, it may not come in 'attached' to the cursor, or in the right place. When preparing a drawing and its geometry to become 'insertable' into another drawing, you must consider its coordinates and then optionally the BASE variable. The preferred method for blocks is to move the geometry from the desired 'anchor' to coordinates of 0,0,0. If you don't want to do that, you should issue the BASE command and pick a point at the anchor.

Another problem scenario to watch out for is when the geometry has been moved to 0,0 and the current drawing had a base other than 0,0. In this case simply issue the BASE command and type in 0,0,0.

Some offset distances are greater than specified?

This can expecially occur when offsetting polylines.  As the interior angle decreases, the distance between offset endpoints increases.  However in parallel sections the perpendicular distance 'should' always be 100. For example with a 100 unit offset.

  • 135° interior angle = 108.35
  • 45° interior angle = 261.60

In general a more accurate representation of the offset would be achieved if you filleted the resulting polyline to 100, making most points along the path truly 100 units away, even in the 'bends'.

AutoCAD 2000 addresses this issue, see the OFFSETGAPTYPE system variable.

Why won't AutoCAD create my large array?

AutoCAD sets a default limit of 100,000 segments. If the quantity of rows * columns would exceed that, AutoCAD refuses to create the offset. However you can change the default value to any number from 100 to 10,000,000. To increase the value, enter the following at the command prompt. The example shows increasing the value to 50,000. Note that the name MaxArray is case sensitive and must be entered as shown.

Command: (setenv "MaxArray" "50000")

Relative Coordinates

Frequently in designating points in AutoCAD, you need to specify the relative position of the next point. There are several ways to do this:

Relative Cartesian: You simply specify the X/Y difference as positive or negative values. The following example indicates the next point is 12 units to the right (positive X) and 6 units down (negative Y). (Example)To Point: @12,-6

Relative Polar: You specify the distance and angle to the next point. The following example indicates the next point 15 units away at a 45 degree angle. (Example)To Point: @15<45

Relative Cylindrical: Much like relative polar except you have the ability to designate the amount of rise or drop at the new point. The following example indicates the next point 15 units away at a 45 degree angle, but also is 6 units lower. (Example)To Point: @15<45,-6

Relative Spherical:Much like relative cylindrical except the rise or drop is determined by an angle. The following example indicates the next point 15 horizontal units away at a 45 degree angle in plan view, but also lifts 12 degrees in the XY plane. (Example)To Point: @15<45<12

AutoCAD's Geometry Calculator

People often don't know about AutoCAD's built in geometry calculator.  While it lacks in interface appeal it more than makes up for it in capability.  Take the ability to snap to a point between to endpoints.  Consider this example where a circle is placed halfway between the endpoints of two lines.

Command: CIRCLE
Specify center point for circle or [3P/2P/Ttr (tan tan radius)]: 'CAL
>> Expression: MEE
>> Select one endpoint for MEE:
>> Select another endpoint for MEE:

The key is when prompted for any point, enter 'CAL and type in the expression.  In the case of MEE it knows you want endpoints and you don't have to use an object snap when picking.  Also bear in mind that MEE is only one of dozens of expressions available at the prompt.  Read your AutoCAD documentation on the Geometry Calculator for more.

How do I enter boundaries in bearing & distance?

First you need to set the appropriate units in the DDUNITS command.  Set the angular units to 'Surveyor', then choose the direction button and make sure that 'Angle Direction' = east, 'Rotation' = counter clockwise. Even though you have set to Surveyors Units it won't work right unless set this way.

Then using the LINE or PLINE command you enter the calls as relative polar coordinates.

Command: LINE
Start Point: (Pick One)
Next Point: @123.45<N45D30'15"E
Next Point: @234.56<S25D10'10"W

Notice the syntax for the relative polar coordinate. You put the @ sign first, which means relative to the last point.  Next comes the distance. Last is the bearing. Its enclosed in the quadrant NE, NW, SE, SW, note the use of letter D to indicate the degrees.

The underutilized AutoCAD MULTIPLE command

When you need to repeat a command several times, consider the MULTIPLE command. At the command prompt type MULTIPLE followed by the command. Take the POINT command for example. Without the multiple prefix you would need to reissue the command before each pick location, now you can repeatedly pick the points until done.

Press ESC to cancel the repeating command.

Using BPoly to Shrinkwrap

Users often need to generate a boundary polyline around multiple polygons or a collection of 3dfaces forming a surface definition. Bpoly/Boundary is overlooked as a tool to help with this, because its considered to only work from the inside out. Simply surround your geometry with a rectangular polyline.  Create a new layer and set it current. Then issue the BPOLY command, and pick a point inside the rectangle.



Why does AutoCAD regen every time I zoom or pan?

You may occasionally receive a drawing from an outside source that causes this problem. Simply type VIEWRES at the command prompt, say YES to fast zooms, and set your circle zoom percent to around 200.

Why does the Object Properties Toolbar Stop Working?

When you pick objects at the command prompt, they highlight and grips appear. On the object properties toolbar the layer and/or color of the object usually appear so that you can change them.  But on some systems this stops working.  This is because the noun/verb selection has been turned off.  Simply type DDSELECT at the command prompt and turn on the 'Noun/Verb Selection' toggle. The Object properties toolbar will start working again.

Number of Command Lines

When you press F2 and look back at the command history, you may notice that at some point it stops. The default number of lines is set to 400. On R14 you could change it in the preferences dialog. Unfortunately 2000 and higher has regressed. You have to use a to lisp expression setting like MaxHatch.

To check the current number of lines set:
Command: (getenv "CmdHistLines")

To set a new maximum number of lines:
Command: (setenv "CmdHistLines" "1000")

The number you use must be in a range from 25 to 2048!

Lost Command Line

Almost all AutoCAD users utilize the command line area to some extent. Recent versions of AutoCAD allow it to be turned off and it can be as easy as accidentally pressing Ctrl + 9. You can use these commands to control it.

Command: _CommandlineHide
Command: _Commandline

Keeping the UCSICON in the corner

If you don't use a UCS you might as well use UCSICON off. If you do you might want to keep it in the lower left corner. Use the 'Origin' and 'No Origin' options of the UCSICON command to control the position of the UCSICON.


You may open a drawing and find what has been described as a "black daisy" in the viewport that you can't get rid of. This is the AutoCAD GeoMarker and it's controlled by the GEOMARKERVISIBILITY variable. Simply enter that at the command prompt and enter a new value of 0.




AutoCAD FIELDS are extremely useful. In previous newsletters we have discussed some of the more complex uses, such as in block attributes.  However, you can easily use them at the command prompt with the FIELD command. Here is an example of an auto updating plot stamp.

  1. Enter the FIELD command.
  2. Scroll down the list on the left and select PlotDate.
  3. Choose the way you want the date to appear in the center.
  4. Choose the [OK] button to place the field in the drawing.
  5. Complete placement which is similar to the Mtext command.

Note that initially, this field will appear as four dashes, but it will be automatically updated by AutoCAD every time you plot!  Take a few minutes to review some of the other field names on the left, the use of fields can greatly expand the capabilities of your drawings!


Why won't AutoCAD create my dense hatch?

AutoCAD sets a default limit of 10000 segments. If the hatch that would be created would exceed that, AutoCAD refuses to create the hatch. However you can change the default value to any number from 100 to 10,000,000. To increase the value, enter the following at the command prompt. The example shows increasing the value to 100,000. Note that the name MaxHatch is case sensitive and must be entered as shown.

Command: (setenv "MaxHatch" "100000")

Why is my hatch scrambled?

Sometimes when you attempt to hatch an area (especially in large coordinate drawings), the hatching can appear scrambled. The hatch pattern does not have enough precision to work properly in the larger coordinates. Use this simple workaround:

  1. Issue the SNAPBASE command and pick a point slightly below and to the left of the area to hatch.
  2. Hatch the area, it will look correct now.
  3. Reissue the SNAPBASE command and put in 0,0 (or previous value).

Adding Custom Hatches

In AutoCAD versions prior to 2000, you could put additional hatch pattern definitions at the end of your ACAD.PAT file, and add the appropriate slides to the ACAD.SLB file to make them show up in the BHATCH dialog.

AutoCAD versions 2000 and later do not use the ACAD.PAT/SLB at all. Instead of putting all the definitions in the ACAD.PAT, it is best to put each pattern definition in a separate PAT file. The path where these PAT files reside must be in the AutoCAD support paths as well. There is some benefit to using a short path such as C:\CADSTUFF, because the BHATCH dialog shows the path before the patten name, and long paths make the pattern name fall off to the right of the list.

To select your custom pattern, issue the BHATCH dialog and choose the pattern select button {...}, then choose the Custom tab to select your pattern.

Hatch Pattern Snaps (2005+)

There has been a change in behavior in AutoCAD 2005 regarding the object snaps on its geometry. In previous releases osnaps would honor hatches, in 2005 they are ignored by default. To turn on the snap to hatch, access the OPTIONS dialog (Tools menu), go to the Drafting tab, and in the lower left you will find the toggle.

Also there is a command line system variable OSNAPHATCH, set to 0 for off (no snap), 1 for on (snap).



How can I make working with IMAGES easier?

If you frequently insert images, having to position, scale and rotate them each time, try this simple trick. Begin a new 'empty' drawing. Insert the image, position, scale and rotate it into place. Make any other changes such as contrast, then save the drawing. From now on, simply insert the newly created drawing, not the image. The attached drawing will contain all the settings.

Add Image Support to AutoCAD

By installing the Raster Design Enabler, you can add support for additional image formats (such as MrSID) to your basic AutoCAD.

From the Autodesk Website: "The Autodesk® Raster Design 2007 Object Enabler is a freeware application that you can use to display Autodesk Raster Design 2007 image files."

Simply visit the link below to download the appropriate enabler for the version of AutoCAD. After you install it, check your image insert 'files of type' popdown for the new formats.

This is of course unsupported (including by us), and while we haven't tested all the formats, we have confirmed the addition of the MrSID and ECW format.

Image Clipping Expanded

The first procedure explains how to clip multiple areas of a single image insert. It assumes you have the image in place and know which portions you wish to remain visible. Assume in this case you want to keep the lower left and upper right portions of the image.

Begin the IMAGECLIP command, enter N for New boundary, then P for Polygonal and pick the points in this order. Note that picks for C/I and D/H are the same location.

        E    F
  --------x----x                 ----
  |            |                |    |
  |     D x    x G   --->       /----
  |         H  |               /
B x  C x       |          ----/
  |      I     |         |    |
A x----x--------          ----

Any number of points can be used, just make sure you follow the path back to the point of beginning.  A second procedure can be used to create a blank hole in an image. In this case C/J and D/I are the same points.

              C J
B x--------x-------x K         +--------x-------x
  |         I      |           |        |       |
  | E x    x   H x |    --->   |   +----+----+  |
  |       D        |           |   |  CLEAR  |  |
  | F x        G x |           |   +---------+  |
  |                |           |                |
A x---------------- L          +----------------+

Finally, make sure IMAGEFRAME is turned off. Note that this newsletter is sent in plain text. If your mail tool is set to force a proportional font, these character graphics may be skewed.



Horizontal Distance

To get the horizontal distance in a drawing that has differing elevation values, you can use AutoCAD's point filters. In response to the point prompt, enter .XY and press the spacebar, pick your point with the appropriate osnap, then enter 0 for the Z value.

Command: DIST
Specify first point: .XY of *PICK* (need Z): 0
Specify second point: .XY of *PICK* (need Z): 0

Find Command to Select Blocks

You can use the Find command to select blocks by their attribute values. Use this procedure.

  1. Open the drawing containing the blocks.
  2. Initiate the FIND command.
  3. Enter the value of the attribute.
  4. Choose the [Select Objects] button and select all the blocks.
  5. Choose the [Select All] button to select the matches.

Of course ToolPac users take this farther by specifying multiple fields to match and operators such as less than, greater than, etc.



How can I balance right click behavior?

Starting with AutoCAD 2004, you can find a compromise between the old rightclick=enter, and the new rightclick=menu. A new 'time sensitive right click' gives you the best of both worlds.

When this is turned on, a quick click of the right mouse button is the same as pressing enter. Holding down the right mouse button longer than the specified time yields a context sensitive menu (when appropriate).

  1. Command: OPTIONS
  2. Choose the 'User Preferences' tab.
  3. Turn on 'Shortcut menus in drawing area'.
  4. Choose the 'Right-click Customization' button.
  5. Turn on 'Time Sensitive Right Click'.
  6. Change interval if desired.

Classic Commands

For those running AutoCAD for a long time, the new image and xref dialogs are a big change. To access the old versions of the dialog, use the CLASSICIMAGE and CLASSICXREF commands.

Restore Classic Appearance

Recent versions of AutoCAD are evolving into an interface that hardly resembles what many are accustomed to. Here are a few commands that can help return AutoCAD (partially) to that state.

Command: WORKSPACE C AutoCAD Classic (sets classic workspace)
Command: MENUBAR 1 (restores pulldown menus)
Command: RIBBONCLOSE (turns off the ribbon)

In addition, the WSSAVE command can be used to save changes to a workspace so they 'stick' and won't revert when making changes.



Why isn't my layer table sorted?

If you begin working with a large number of layers (around 200), you may notice that the layers are not sorted in the layer dialog. Instead they are shown in the order they were created. AutoCAD uses a system variable MAXSORT to control how many layers to sort on layer control as well as how many files to sort on file open. Simply type in MAXSORT at the command prompt and put in a numeric value larger than the default value of 200. This value is stored in the configuration files and won't need to be reentered in your next drawing.

Don�t Plot That Layer!

A trick in AutoCAD that has been around for the longest time is a layer name that won't plot regardless of its status. Create a layer in your drawing called DEFPOINTS. Use it to place notes to yourself, construction lines, etc. It also an excellent layer to put paper space viewports into, since the frames don't plot.

No Xref Layer Filter

If you want your layer dialog to show only layers in the current drawing and exclude all xrefs, create a filter with a name like NOXREF, then put this in for the layer name "~*|*" (without the quotation marks).

Delete All Named Layer Filters

Later versions of AutoCAD have the ability to delete all named layer filters quickly.

  1. Open the Layer dialog box.
  2. Open the Named Layer Filters dialog using the [...] button in the upper left corner.
  3. Choose the [Delete All] button in the lower right.

Copy Layer Table

Beginning with AutoCAD 2005, you can copy the contents of the layer dialog to the clipboard for pasting into other applications, mainly for printing. With the dialog displayed, issue the Ctrl+A keystroke combination to select all the records, then use Ctrl+C to copy the contents to the clipboard.

New Layers (Frozen in Existing Viewports)

Starting with AutoCAD 2008, the layer dialog has a new icon just to the right of the 'New Layer' icon. Use it to create a new layer that will be frozen in all existing layout viewports!

Another Classic - ClassicLayer

Some users of newer versions of AutoCAD are reporting slow behavior in using the new Layer dialog that floats and remains open. This new dialog must constantly monitor AutoCAD to maintain an accurate reflection of the layer status in the drawing, including reacting to changing the active drawing, etc.

For those who want faster response or those that like the old way better, use the ClassicLayer command to initiate the old dialog.

Layer Properties Manager

If you need to make changes to all (or most) layers in a drawing, with this dialog displayed press Ctrl+A (or right click and choose Select All), then click the operation. For example, if you click the linetype (or other) fields you are making changes to all selected items in the list.

If there are items you wish to exclude hold Ctrl while clicking to deselect them.

An extra tip along these lines. You can press Ctrl+C to copy the properties of the selected rows to the clipboard, ready to paste into other applications like MS Excel, etc.



Is there a limit to the number of layouts in a drawing?

Yes, it is limited to a total of 255.  Autodesk notes this as a limitation of the tab control used to display the collection.

Why don't my layouts plot in the correct order?

This is a bug in AutoCAD that still remains.  Click here for a (confusing at best) explanation by Autodesk.



Why won�t my linetypes display?

Sometimes it seems that no matter how you try, you can't get line types with breaks to show the breaks. First thing to remember is that 3D polylines in AutoCAD cannot display a line type, nor can they have width or contain arcs for that matter. However, most other objects should if things are set right.

First check the value of LTSCALE, this master control variable determines the scaling of the gaps in linetypes. You may find this variable set to 1.0, which would not show breaks on a map. Enter LTSCALE at the command prompt and put in a value that is 50% to 66% of the scale at which you would plot the map. For example, if you would plot the drawing at 1"=50', you should put in a value between 25-35 for LTSCALE.

If LTSCALE doesn't set things straight, there is a possibility that your geometry has a CONTINUOUS linetype set to each object, in which case it won't take on the linetype of the layer on which it is assigned. Simply issue the CHPROP command, select the geometry, type LT for linetype, and enter BYLAYER for the value.

If this still doesn't display the linetype's properly, you probably have polylines with vertices that are close together. To correct this use DDMODIFY, select the polyline, and turn on the LTGEN toggle in the dialog.

Arc Text Linetypes

When using text in linetypes it's often difficult to control the direction the text reads, especially in arcs. For true arcs you would need to convert them to polylines, using PEDIT.  Next, be aware of the effect of polyline generation. This flag needs to be turned on for the polyline to honor the direction.  This flag can be set using the PROPS dialog.  Lastly, you may need to reverse the polyline to control the reading direction.

The main thing to remember is that without the polyline generation flag set, the text will always read counterclockwise in the arc segments of the polyline.



Changing Elevations Using Move

Many AutoCAD users only think of the MOVE command for moving a selection set of objects in an XY direction. Don't overlook the fact that the MOVE command can work perfectly for moving objects up and down the Z axis as well. To change elevations of objects where you know the distance you want to raise or lower, use this procedure.

  1. Issue the MOVE command.
  2. Select Objects to change.
  3. For Base Point, simply pick anywhere.
  4. For 2nd Point, enter this: @0,0,ZDIFF

Where ZDIFF is the amount you want to raise or lower. Use a negative number to lower and a positive one to raise.

Misbehaving Trim/Extend

Sometimes users complain about the TRIM or EXTEND commands not creating the desired results. The resulting point being short of (or past) the target edge. These commands are affected by the settings of TRIMMODE and PROJMODE system variables, which should both be set to 1. You'll notice these as options in the commands as well.

Deleting Problem Objects

There are times when you would like to erase all of a particular object type from a drawing, such as Wipeouts and Proxy objects.  Paste in the following at the command prompt, then press enter.

Command: (command "ERASE" (ssget "x" '((0 . "WIPEOUT"))) "")

You can use this same syntax and replace the object type at the end of the statement. For example on proxies replace "WIPEOUT" with "ACAD_PROXY_ENTITY".

Toggling Groups

If you start to manipulate an object and multiple objects are highlighted, that means they are bound in a group or a block. If you use the list command, it will list as a block if that's the case. If it lists as objects, you have a group.

If you have a group, you can toggle the status of group selection with Ctrl+Shift+A on newer versions or simply Ctrl+A on older releases. The command line will echo the status of the toggle.



Object Cycling

Object Cycling has been around since R13, but isn't a widely known ability, perhaps because it's not a command. Whenever you are at the 'Select Objects' prompt and have overlapping objects, simply hold down the Ctrl key as you pick a location. AutoCAD will cycle through the objects at that location, highlighting each one until you accept one and move on.


AutoCAD R14 brought with it many new object types. Many of these such as images are widely accepted. Many more (such as XLINE and RAY objects) remain underutilized.

XLINE objects make an excellent construction line. They don't change the drawings extents so they don't affect zoom extents. They never need to be extended because they run infinitely in the direction they are drawn.

RAY objects work like XLINE, except they extend infinitely only in one direction. This can be used for radial construction lines from a single point.

What are ProxyObjects and can I delete them from a drawing?

They are custom objects that require the presence of the application that generated them to be 'fully' functional.  Sometimes when the application is absent they will still appear/plot the same but you can't edit them or acquire information about them.  Sometimes you might even get a box with an X through it as in the case of the RTEXT object.

The AEC group of Autodesk deserves credit for releasing the recent versions of the Object Enabler. It is free and allows recipients of drawings with their proxies to see and do more with the otherwise impossible representation.

Depending on your situation, saving the drawing in an R12 format (different file name of course) is a brute force approach to purging the drawing of proxies.  However depending on whats contained it can have ill effects.


 Paper Space

Transporting Paper Space Viewports

During the process of wblocking or copy/paste clip, Viewport objects can appear to become zombies, not displaying the model space geometry they formerly showed. Transporting viewports seems to turn off the viewports. After any wblock/copy+paste operation use the MVIEW command with the ON option to turn the viewports back on. Once the viewports are turned back on they should show their previous contents properly, including the layer status.

How do I switch between overlapping viewports?

When you have two or more paper space viewports that overlap or are contained within another, it can be difficult to impossible to switch with the mouse pointer. Therefore the keyboard command for this can be indispensable.  The keyboard command USED TO BE Ctrl+V, but since Windows knows this as paste, Autodesk changed the command. The new command sequence is Ctrl+R.

PSLTSCALE is per Layout

It's not widely known that the PSLTSCALE variable has an independent setting on each layout. After you set the value for one layout, you may need to switch to other layouts and set it as appropriate.

Layout Limit

Q: Is there a limit to the number of layouts in a drawing.
A: Yes, there can only be 255 layouts in a given drawing.

Enabling Imported Viewports

Sometimes viewports imported (DesignCenter, etc) don't display the contents, etc. Issue the MVIEW command, use the ON option, and select the misbehaving viewports.


 PDF Related

Scanning to PDF a waste of time

Its recently came to our attention that many scanners come with software that scans old drawings to a PDF, and that users are doing just that. The follow up is how to put that in AutoCAD.

This is a waste of time and effort. The most efficient way is to scan to a raster file and use AutoCAD's IMAGE command to attach the image to the drawing. Avoid using JPG format, while it works well for photos it does not work well with line drawings. Use the PNG format if available, or use TIF if not.

PdfUnderlay Performance

Some users are reporting slow performance when they use the new PdfUnderlay functionality in 2009 (w/subscription) and 2010. It mostly depends on the content of the PDF, which can often be a bloated mess. Not all PDF creators are equal. For example, while one driver may write out text as a lean text element, another may (especially if its width factor is changed) write out each letter as a large collection of filled triangles. Take for example this innocent looking letter "S", which contained 471 objects!

AutoCAD doesn't know it's a letter S and has to treat it with as much importance as any other part of your file. This users file (PDF Size 1.2mb) contained nearly 325,000 objects that obviously was bogging down AutoCAD.

You can turn off the PDFOSNAP system variable to improve snaps.

Cannot Snap to PdfUnderlay

Not all PDFs contain geometry that AutoCAD can snap to. Many times the PDF is a scanned image that has such high resolution that the content looks like linework. You can usually zoom in tightly to begin to see the jagged edges of an image.  Check your PDFOSNAP system variable; it should be set to 1.



Quick & Easy Plot to Raster

While the highest quality result is by defining a raster plotter (below), it's easy to create a raster using the BMPOUT, TIFOUT, or PNGOUT (our favorite) commands.

Plotting to a raster file

A popular inquiry from AutoCAD users is how to plot a drawing to a raster file (or bitmap/picture). This is often in response to the need to provide a 'picture' of the drawing without actually providing the DWG, or perhaps a drawing is to be displayed in a web page.

First is the simple to use (but less control) command called BMPOUT. It creates a Windows Bitmap .BMP file, appropriate for Paintbrush but not ready for a web page. It captures the whole drawing viewport so center your drawing as well as possible before issuing the command. The following procedures can be used to 'plot' your drawing to a raster file.


  1. Choose File > Plotter Manager.
  2. Choose 'Add-A-Plotter Wizard'.
  3. Choose Next, then Next again (accepting My Computer).
  4. Under Manufacturers, choose 'Raster File Formats'.
  5. Under Models, choose 'Portable Network Graphics PNG'. (details on why below)
  6. Choose Next until the Finish button becomes available.


  1. Issue the Plot Command.
  2. On the Plot Device Tab, choose the PNG output created.
  3. Choose the Properties button, and choose the output resolution desired.
  4. In the lower right corner, specify the path and filename to create.
  5. Switch to Plot Settings tab, specify the window and complete the plot to file.

You may wonder why the PNG file was chosen. It is a clean highly compressed format. In comparison, the JPG (JPEG) format is absolutely NOT a desireable format for representing linework in raster format. While JPEG is fine for photographs, it is a 'lossy' compression and will produce noticable 'snow' on line drawings, expecially diagonal lines.

The PNG file is your best choice for raster output. It is very compact in size and is a 'loseless' compression. It can be displayed by all 'current' web browsers as well.

Plotting Multiple Sheets

Some may not know that in newer versions of AutoCAD which support the new layouts that you can select multiple layouts to plot. At the command prompt, simply hold down the control key and click on each layout you want to plot, or use shift to select a range.  Once you've got the desired layouts selected you issue the plot command.

Auto Publish (2008+)

Newer versions of AutoCAD contain the capability to automatically create a DWF or PDF (added in 2010) file when you save or close your drawing. To setup the system go to the OPTIONS dialog, then choose the |Plot and Publish| tab. In the lower left you can turn the system on/off and control the settings.

The settings dialog allows you to designate when the publish is to take place, where the files go, etc. Various options exist in 2010 for things like layer information, merge control, and more.



Why won't my 3D polylines display a linetype?

3DPOLY's cannot contain arcs, display linetypes or show width or thickness.  However, you can assign a linetype style to a 3D polyline and it will retain the information.   Simply save the drawing, explode the 3D polylines before you plot (the LINES will display the linetype), then undo to restore the 3D polylines.

Why don't my splined polyline vertices go through the original vertices?

As you probably know, using the Spline option ofthe PEDIT command creates a splined polyline but the path of the spline does not run through the original control points. In contrast the spline created with the SPLINE command does run through thecontrol points and is the end result you want. Back on the negativeside the SPLINE command has an option to convert an existing polyline, but only one that has been splined. The converted spline is still not what you want.

So the best way with stock AutoCAD is to turn on the endpoint osnap,issue the SPLINE command and get starting picking points. ToolPac users will find Convert Polylines to Splines that will process a selection set of un-splined polylines and give you the results you want.

How can I draw a tangent line off an ARC within a polyline?

You may have noticed that when you go to the ARC mode within the PLINE command, the first and consectutive arcs are tangent to the previous segment.  To create a tangent line off the last segment, first press L for Line mode, then press a second L for Length.  Pick or enter a distance and the segement drawn will be tangent off the last arc.  Its the 2nd L that does the trick.

How can I convert R14 LightWeight Polylines back?

At the command prompt type CONVERTPOLY. This undocumented command built into AutoCAD R14 allows you to convert lightweight polylines to the old 'heavy' polylines, preserves arcs and polyline width. Some 'not so current' applications may require standard polylines.

Polylines with Elevation

Beginning users often assume that elevated polylines must be created as 3dPolys. If the elevations of a polyline vary, that is the case.  However, if the elevations of a polyline are consistent (such as a proposed contour) a standard (lightweight) polyline is best.

If you are creating them with the PLINE command you can assign the elevation with the first pick. In response to the start point enter .XY and press enter (or space), AutoCAD will let you pick the point then asks for the elevation. All remaining picks will be on that elevation.

Command: PLINE
Specify start point: .XY of *PICK LOCATION* (need Z): 1300

If polylines are already created, click on the polyline and use AutoCAD's PROPS dialog to change the elevation.



How do I disable 2004 Drawing Passwords?

The password on 2004 (and higher) is a potential nightmare. One scenario is a disgruntled employee who decides to password protect important drawings on their way out the door.

When installing, consider choosing the Custom Install, and turn off the Drawing Encryption option in Special Features.  After installation use this procedure.

  1. Choose Start > Settings > Control Panel.
  2. Choose Add/Remove Programs.
  3. Find AutoCAD on the list.
  4. Choose the [Change] button.
  5. Choose 'Add or Remove Features'
  6. Choose 'Drawing Encryption'
  7. Choose 'Entire Feature will be unavailable'
  8. Choose [Next] until complete.


How can I convert a SPLINE to a POLYLINE?

The new SPLINE objects introduced in R13 are nice, but there arelimits on what you can do with them. So conversion to a polyline is necessary. Carefully erase all the geometry except for the splines, then save the drawing in R12 DWG (A2K users use R12 DXF) format. Then open the original drawing, erase the splines and insert the R12 file.The spline will now have become polylines.  If the splines haddiffering elevations on the vertices, the resulting polyline will be a 3D polyline.

For ToolPac users, use Convert > Splines > To Polylines.  For others SPL2PL.VLX in the Free Stuff section will convert, but does not contain the arc option like the one in ToolPac.


 System Variables

What happened to my PLOT/FILE dialogs?

You may occasionally find yourself in a situation where the NEW, OPEN, and SAVE commands do not provide a dialog. Simply enter FILEDIA at the command prompt and enter a value of 1. If you attempt to PLOT and fail to get a dialog, simply enter ` at the command prompt and enter a value of 1.

Using File Dialog at prompts

Sometimes settings (such as FILEDIA) can cause certain routines to ask for a file name at the command prompt. In these cases you can enter the tilde ~ character followed by enter to bring up the file selection dialog.

Ignoring Object Snap Elevations

A frequent problem in objects snaps is the inheritance of the Z value when snapping to a point. AutoCAD 2006 addresses this with the new OSNAPZ system variable. If set to 0, osnap uses the z-value of the snapped point. If set to 1, it uses the x+y of the snapped point and the current value of the ELEVATION system variable.

Also note that when creating lightweight polylines, the elevation of the first snap will determine the elevation. After that, any snap to other elevations will be ignored.

What is the OFFSETGAPTYPE variable in AutoCAD 2000?

This system variable can have a drastic effect on the appearance of offsets. Its stored in the registry so it affects all drawings. The initial value is 0.

  • 0  Extends the segments to fill the gap (the old way)
  • 1  Fills the gaps with a filleted arc segment (the radius of the arc segment is equal to the offset distance)
  • 2  Fills the gaps with a chamfered line segment


Users with HUGE drawings may want to consider changing the value of the TREEDEPTH variable. It controls the AutoCAD Oct-Tree Spatial Index, which specifies the number of times the tree-structured spatial index may divide into branches. Setting the value to -3020 flattens the Z index giving you more granular nodes in the XY which yields faster object selection. It has no effect on the elevations of your objects.

PELLIPSE System Variable

If you want the ellipse command to create polylines instead of the true mathematical ellipses, set the PELLIPSE variable to 1.

SKPOLY System Variable

By default, the SKETCH command creates a collection of line objects. To create polylines instead, set the SKPOLY variable to 1.

OSNAPZ System Variable

This controls whether AutoCAD picks the elevation of the snap point, the default being 0 (use the Z value). If you change the variable setting to 1, AutoCAD will use the value of the ELEVATION system variable instead. This can be very useful in an elevated drawing when you don't want newly drawn geometry to take on the elevations of the existing geometry.

Don't forget to set it back if you need to snap to elevations, for example when drawing 3dPolylines.

PLINEGEN System Variable

This variable is often set to off (value of 0) when it should be turned on. Newly created polylines take on the status of this variable. This can create many negative effects. For example when a dashed linetype is applied to polylines having dense vertices, the dash may not appear at all as the mask is reset on each vertex. A second example is text based linetypes, if the linetype generation is turned off the letters will usually read wrong on curve segments.

If you have existing polylines created while the PLINEGEN variable was turned off, you can use the PROPS dialog to turn the linetype generation back on.

List System Variables

To check the status of certain system variables, you can use the SETVAR command. After issuing the command, enter ? to begin the list, then apply an optional filter. For example entering DIM* will show all the dimension variables.



Table Spanning (2008+)

Tables can now be broken into multiple parts but still be part of the same table. At the bottom of every table object is a triangular grip.  Simply click and drag this grip to set the breaking height for the table.



How can I do subscript/superscript text?

There is no way to do it in standard TEXT.  However you can do it in MTEXT using the stack mechanism.  As an example bring up the MTEXT editor dialog and paste in something like:

Raise to the 3rd^   Power!

Basically the formula is to use the ^ carat symbol along with the same number of spaces as you have characters to shift up/down.  In my example above I would enter this into the MTEXT editor dialog box, there are three spaces after the ^, two to balance the shift of the 'rd' and a third for the natural space between the words.  In the MTEXT editor I would highlight the 5 characters "rd^ ", then press the A/B stacking button in the dialog. The 'rd' then becomes superscript.  To achieve subscript simply reverse the order putting the spaces and carat first, for example " ^rd".

If you wanted to underline the superscript or overline the subscript, simply use a "/" (forwardslash) instead of the carat symbol.

How can I select all TEXT that contains a word fragment?

When you need a selection set of text objects that contains a word or word fragment, you can call upon the FILTER command to help. When at the select objects prompt, type 'FILTER and press enter. Pull down the Selected Filter and choose Text Value from the list. In the X field enter the text fragment you are looking for with appropriate *'s included. For example *LINE* will find all text string with the wordLINE anywhere in the string.

Dtext Placement (2006+)

Changes in the default behavior make it difficult for those who still place single line text in various locations. To restore the previous behavior, enter DTEXTED at the command prompt and enter a value of 1.

Mtext Editing (2006+)

The new method of editing small mtext (especially when rotated) can be difficult with the in-place editor. To bring back the old method, enter MTEXTED at the command prompt and enter OLDEDITOR. If you need to change it back, enter the command again and put in the previous value of INTERNAL.

Background Masks

Recent versions of AutoCAD have provided the best way to mask the content under mtext objects. Unlike all other approaches, the built-in functionality grows/shrinks with the mtext content. To control the mask, make sure your Properties dialog is displayed (command PROPS) then select your mtext.

In the PROPS dialog you will see Background Mask, click the [...] button to bring up a dialog where you can toggle the status as well as control the size, color, etc. Note that in AutoCAD 2007 you can only turn the mask on/off.

Mtext Minimum Box

When using the background masking of Mtext, the extents of the box often reflects the window used when creating the mtext. To resize this box to the minimum, double click the mtext object to bring up the mtext editor, then double click the <> icon in the ribbon that is just above it in the ruler bar.

If you have multiple mtext object to process, ToolPac contains a Mtext Minimum Size tool that processes a selection set.



Using the Startup Suite

Users often come across usable code they want to add to their systems but don't know how to proceed. You may obtain a file with the extension LSP, VLX, DVB, etc.  Another case is lisp code in the form of text on a newsgroup or web page.  In this case we need to get it into a file with this first procedure.

Inline LSP Code to File

  1. Highlight the text in the source window (email, newsgroup reader).
  2. Right click and choose Copy.
  3. Open a Notepad or any pure ASCII editor.
  4. Right click and choose Paste.
  5. Choose File > Save As.
  6. Choose an appropriate folder and enter the name "FILENAME.LSP" including the quotation marks. Otherwise Notepad will name the file FILENAME.LSP.TXT, which won't work.

Also, it's highly recommended that you create a dedicated folder (like C:\CADSTUFF) to place these files. If you place them in the AutoCAD folder they may be removed if you upgrade/reinstall.

Adding functions to Startup

  1. Command: APPLOAD
  2. Choose the (Contents) button in the Startup Suite.
  3. Choose the (Add) button, then browse to the location of the code file and select it.
  4. Choose the (Close) button to close the Startup Suite.
  5. Choose the (Close) button to close the Appload Dialog.

From this point forward, the commands defined in these code files should be available in future sessions without needing to load them each time.

CUI Unresolved Files

On starting the CUI command you may receive alerts about unresolved files that can no longer be found. To clean these up, expand the 'Partial Customization Files' section and look along the list for items with an (Unresolved) suffix. If you can't resolve the item, right click and choose 'Unload'.


 Other Information

Tiny URLs

This is not CAD specific but is still worth mentioning. Sometimes when you try to refer to a long link URL in an email or news post, the link can become broken because the mail/news tool wraps the link into two (or more) lines. Unknowing users are frustrated because the link doesn't appear to work when they click it, and even experienced users have to paste it into a notepad and remove the line breaks.

In this situation, head to and paste in your long link. A tinyurl 'mapped' link will be returned that's usually 20-30 characters and will never break.

How do I change the default drawing open directory?

Right click on your launch icon and choose Properties, choose ShortCut, then change the path shown in the 'Start In' field.  Note that if your new path contains spaces like "C:\My Drawings" it should be enclosed in parenthesis, otherwise they are not necessary.

The default behavior beginning in 2000i is for the application to remember the last folder accessed, even between sessions.  This can controlled by the REMEMBERFOLDERS variable which defaults to 1.  This is an integer (0/1) and is stored in the registry, meaning you only need to set it once.   When set to 0 it causes AutoCAD to behave as previous versions, honoring the settings described above.

AutoCAD 2000 Properties Dialog doesn't do Previous

A favorite procedure for some in older versions of AutoCAD was to build a selection set, then issue the DDCHPROP command and specify P for the previous set. With the new AutoCAD 2000 Properties command, which totally replaces the DDCHPROP command, you can't specify the previous set.  A little bit of LISP to the rescue. Place this code snipped in your ACAD.LSP file so that its automatically loaded, and simply type issue CHGPREV command to wake up the properties dialog with the previous selection set.

(defun C:CHGPREV ()
  (setq sset (ssget "P"))
  (if sset
      (sssetfirst sset sset)
      (command "_.PROPERTIES")

How do you DXFIN into an existing drawing?

In the old days of R12/R13, you could be in a drawing full of objects, and do a DXFIN to merge additional objects from a DXF file. But that changed in R14, requiring you to begin a new drawing, DXFIN, saveas a DWG, reopen the original drawing, and insert the newly converted file.  Now using AutoCAD 2000, you can once again bring DXF based geometry directly into the existing drawing.

  1. Issue the INSERT command.
  2. Choose the BROWSE button.
  3. Pull down 'Files of Type' and choose *.DXF.
  4. Select your DXF file and choose Open.
  5. Turn on the 'Explode' toggle.
  6. Turn off the rest of the toggles.
  7. Choose OK to complete the operation.

Starting AutoCAD 2000 with no starting drawing!

If you would like to start AutoCAD 2000, but don't want a blank empty drawing, and you are not using the 'Startup Dialog' you can put this in your ACAD.LSP and it'll create this effect.

(defun-q mystartup ()
  (while (eq 1 (logand 1 (getvar "CMDACTIVE"))))
  (command "_CLOSE")

(setq S::STARTUP (append S::STARTUP mystartup))

In LISP code, don't (regapp) until you have to!

It may be tempting to place the (regapp) code at the top of your LISP code so that you won't have any problems adding EED during your application.  But doing so changes the status of the DBMOD, and disables the already fragile ability to DXFIN.  Place the (regapp) in the specific function that creates/modifies the object, right before the code that actually creates it.

On the subject, its not a bad idea to check to see if its already registered like:

(if (null (tblsearch "APPID" "MYAPPID"))
  (regapp "MYAPPID")

AutoCAD Temp & Backup Files

In AutoCAD, other than the DWG file, there are other files you are working with, whether you know it or not.

  1. BAK files: Unless you turn it off in OPTIONS, when you save a drawing that already exists on file, the .DWG is renamed to .BAK, then the new data is written to .DWG. Don't rely on this for true safety of your files, because .BAK files have been known to become corrupt.
  2. AC$ Files: These are temporary files created by AutoCAD during the process of creating the drawing. They are only of value to AutoCAD during editing and are usually cleaned up when AutoCAD closes. These files are useless if AutoCAD crashes.
  3. SV$ Files: These are autosave files, controlled by the setting inthe OPTIONS dialog. These files are the equivalent of a DWG, you would only need to rename them if AutoCAD crashes. It's important to note that if AutoCAD closes normally, these files are deleted!

Launch without the Logo

Save yourself a second and eliminate some visual noise every time you start AutoCAD by turning off the logo. Right click on your launch icon and choose Properties. On the Shortcut tab, in the Target field, carefully append a space and the /nologo switch.

How do I restore from a BAK file?

By default AutoCAD makes a backup file with the extension .BAK as you work with drawings. Some users aren't aware of how to use this file when the DWG becomes corrupt. The problem is mostly to the fault of Microsoft and their explorer defaults.

  1. Launch Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder that contains the file(s).
  2. Choose Tools > Folder Options.
  3. Click on the View Tab.
  4. In the 'Files & Folders' section, turn off the toggle on 'Hide extensions for known file types'.
  5. Choose OK (extensions should now show).
  6. Left click on the BAK file to highlight it.
  7. Right click and choose Rename (or press F2).
  8. Change the name to something like RECOVER.DWG.
  9. Open the file as normal in AutoCAD.

Note that AutoCAD has been known to sometimes corrupt the BAK file as well.

Educational Plot Stamp

Be careful when inserting blocks or drawings from outside sources, especially those you have never worked with before. If the party providing the file was using an educational version of AutoCAD, you can find your plots from a full license of AutoCAD saying "PRODUCED BY AN AUTODESK EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT".

If you find yourself in this situation, you can usually save the file in a DXF format, then reopen it to strip the message.  If you're concerned about files of this nature lying in wait to be batch plotted, you can scan for these files with a tool from ManuSoft.

EDU-Scan at

Little Known Reference Manager

Because it's not shown on the AutoCAD menus, it's often overlooked.  For recent versions of AutoCAD, click the Windows Start Menu, choose Programs > Autodesk > AutoCAD. In the same group as the AutoCAD launch you will find the Reference Manager, which can be used to repath xrefs, images, etc.

Prevent Unnecessary Problems with Autodesk Service Packs

Many AutoCAD users don't realize that after installation their system still needs service packs applied. Failure to do this can mean that they suffer through problems that have already been fixed.  Autodesk does a good job of making service packs available for all the versions you are likely to run. We found patches going all the way back to R12 for DOS!

  1. Click on this link
  2. Pull down the list and choose the Autodesk product you use.
  3. In the lower left corner of the menu at left, click on "Data & Downloads"
  4. Under that section, click on "Updates & Services Packs"
  5. Find the version you are running and the patches available.

Third Generation of OS Commandline Copy

First there was the DOS copy command, then people discovered XCOPY which was faster and more capable. Now there is a third generation called ROBOCOPY, which stands for 'Robust Copy'. Take for instance the need to create an exact backup of an entire drive to a folder on another drive, including the ability to remove files from the copy if they have been deleted from the source. Essentially a mirror backup!

RoboCopy is one of many handy tools in the 'Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools', but you don't need to be running server to use them. You can download it directly from Microsoft using this link.

Microsoft Download:

Viewing Slides (Inside Libraries)

Although interest has dimenished over the past few years, users still want to work with Slide (SLD) and Slide Library (SLB) files.  One process thats not well known is how to view a slide that is contained within a slide library. Use this procedure:

Command: FILEDIA
Enter new value for FILEDIA <1>: 0
Command: VSLIDE
Enter name of slide file to view <Drawing1>: ACAD(ANSI31)
Command: FILEDIA
Enter new value for FILEDIA <0>: 1
Command: REDRAW

Note the syntax on the VSLIDE command. You specify the library name, then the slide name in parenthesis.

AutoCAD 2007 on Vista

While Autodesk provided a service pack for this case, there was a remaining issue with file dialogs (they constantly show as large icons). To fix this, use this procedure.

  1. Right click your launch icon, choose properties.
  2. Switch to the Compatibility tab.
  3. Turn on the top toggle 'Run in compatibility mode'.
  4. Pull down the list and choose 'Windows XP SP2'.

Using Design Center

The Design Center included with AutoCAD several versions back can be used for many purposes. To launch it you can use the ADCENTER command or the alias DC.

First consider it as a Symbol Manager. You can navigate to a folder in the left pane and it fills the upper right pane with the symbol drawings in that folder, with a small preview. Clicking on one of the icons shows a larger preview, then dragging the icon to the AutoCAD drawing window initiates the insert process.

Next is symbol table imports, such as layers. Navigate to a folder on the left pane, click the [+] box to the left of a drawing and the tree will expand to the available tables. For example, clicking the Layers item under the drawing shows all the layers for that source drawing. Select one or more layers and drag them to the drawing window and they will be created in the current drawing.  Objects contained in the source drawing will not be imported, only the definition (including the default color, linetype, etc).

Backup/Restore Profiles

You may want to consider creating a backup of your profile(s) in AutoCAD. Some add-ons may modify the profile in code (ours don't)
and you may make unintentional changes to the profile yourself.

Backup Procedure:

  1. Issue the OPTIONS command.
  2. Select the PROFILES tab (your current profile is highlighted).
  3. Click the [Add to List] button.
  4. Enter a useful name, like MyProfileBackup.

Restore Procedure:

  1. Issue the OPTIONS command.
  2. Select the PROFILES tab.
  3. Select the backup profile in the list.
  4. Click the [Set Current] button.
  5. Select the old (corrupt) profile.
  6. Click [Delete] and confirm to remove it.
  7. Select the backup profile in the list again.
  8. Click the [Add to List] button.
  9. Enter the original profile (recently deleted) name.
  10. Select the original profile in the list.
  11. Click the [Set Current] button.

Reference Manager

Many users are not aware of this tool because it's not on the menus inside AutoCAD. Instead use Start > All Programs > Autodesk > AutoCAD and you will find a shortcut. If you need additional control take a look at ToolPac's Repath tool.

Disappearing Dialogs

Sometimes users may issue a command and expect a dialog to appear and it doesn't (and AutoCAD seems locked up). Often pressing the escape key returns the command prompt. This can be caused by the user having dragged a dialog to a screen location that is no longer available because of a second monitor being disconnected or screen resolution being lowered.

For those comfortable with RegEdit, you can find the dialog's coordinates in this area.


Once the item is found, changing the first two numbers to 0,0 should push it back to the upper left.

New Trick for Command Prompt (DOS)

For those that still use the 'Command Prompt' in Windows for what some call the 'DOS box', you can now cycle through folders when using the CD command. After typing CD, press the Tab key to cycle forward through available folders, Shift+Tab to cycle backwards.

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