If you're new to AutoCAD or even if you're not and you find it difficult to remember all the keyboard shortcuts to your favorite commands like L for Line and C for Circle or even 3DO for 3DOrbit, then you need to know about the AutoCAD Alias Editor.
Enter ALIASEDIT at the command line and AutoCAD will launch a tiny application window that lists all the shortcuts in alphabetical order. As this is a seperate application, you can keep it minimised on your taskbar until you need it for reference.
Essentially, this editor simply lists the contents of the acad.pgp file where all the command aliases are stored. Those of you who are a bit more adventurous, may even like to use the Alias Editor to create your own aliases or edit existing ones. I, for example, hardly ever use the DRAFTSETTINGS command (alias command DS). I updated the alias so that when I type in DS AutoCAD starts a LiSP routine to create a new DimStyle.
If you find yourself using the same combination of commands and options over and over, you can easily create a custom command that executes the combination with a click of a button or a menu item. In this tutorial, I explain the basics of AutoCAD’s menu syntax so that you can create your own commands. No programming required!
< Space > Equivalent to pressing Enter except when entering text to create a text object that contains spaces (between words). Use between the command and its options.
; (semi-colon) Equivalent to pressing Enter. The end of a line in a menu macro is also equivalent to pressing Enter. More helpful than using a space when you need to press Enter twice, because it shows the number of Enters more clearly. Also helpful at the end of the macro.
\ Pauses for user input, such as picking a point or entering a value.
+ At the end of a macro line, continues the macro to the next line
* At the beginning of a macro, before ^C^C, repeats the macro until you press Esc or choose another menu item.
^P Toggles the display of the menu macro on the command line; makes the macro look neater when you use it.
I really like using AutoCAD's LENGTHEN command. And when I use it, I *only* use it Dynamically, so I've created a new macro into a new button that I can use that will automatically start the Lengthen command and step through the selection of Dynamic and let me pick that line that I want to work on.
First, type CUI to bring up the Customize User Interface, and then select the CREATE A NEW COMMAND button as shown above. A new command will be created called COMMAND1 (or COMMAND2, or COMMAND3...)
Select the COMMAND1 command from the Command List pane, just below you Create A New Command button.
This will populate the PROPERTIES area for the command.
Under PROPERTIES I called my new Command LDY and wrote a brief description.
At the MACRO area it reads: ^C^C_lengthen;dy;
[which basically tells AutoCAD Cancel Cancel. Start the LENGTHEN command <enter> DYnamic <enter>
I also stole the default lengthen button image.
Lastly, I added my new command to a newly created Toolbar Menu. You can add your new command to any Toolbar menu.
AutoCAD allows users to add and change its interface. Several years ago, if you worked on a tablet, you could create your own menus easily.
It has gotten a little more tedious as AutoCAD has evolved. I find the CUI (Client User Interface) a little harder to manipulate.
Over the next few Tips, we'll look at changing a few menus and commands.
Auto Repeating Commands
Sometimes you need to repeat a command lots of times and it can be a bit tedious doing the usual Right-Click and Repeat… or even using the Enter key on the keyboard. It would be really useful if you could just keep a command auto-repeating until you hit the Escape (Esc) key. Well, you can. All you need to do is make a small change to the CUI.
For example, say you want to draw lots of circles and have the circle command auto-repeat so that you can just pick center, radius, center, radius etc. Here's what you do:
This technique can be used with most commands. For example, if you are doing a lot of dimensioning, you could auto-repeat the Linear Dimension command so that you can draw all your dimensions without breaking stride.
We love viewports (or MView). The zoom factor of your viewports is crucial because it affects the plotted scale of your drawing. So, once you have set your viewport scale, it's a good idea to lock your viewport so that you don't inadvertently change it.
To lock a viewport, select it in paper space by picking on its boundary and then right-click anywhere within the viewport. Select "Properties" from the right-click menu and the Properties panel will appear. In the "Misc" section, click on "Display locked" to activate the pull-down and set the value to "Yes".
To really maximize your work area, try CLEANSCREEN. You can use Ctrl+0 (that's a zero), or go to ToolsClean Screen, or click the faint blue square icon at the very bottom right of the AutoCAD program window to maximize your entire work area. The only thing that will show is your top Pull-down Menu, your Command Line, and/or your Layout Tabs, maximizing the drawing area as much as possible. Of course, you could also turn off the command line and just work with Dynamic Input if you wanted to be even more minimal. These command options work as a toggle, so simply repeat the action to restore the full interface.
If you are a customized keyboard command type of person, the command is CLEANSCREENON and CLEANSCREENOFF so you can easily add it into your ACAD.PGP file complete with your personal Command Alias.
If you're working in AutoCAD 2006 or one more up to date, at the Command line, type the first letter of the command you wish to start. Do not press (ENTER); instead, press the TAB key repeatedly and watch as AutoCAD runs through an alphabetical list of all commands, beginning with the letter you first typed. When the right command appears in the command line, press to start it.
This isn't a very efficient way to invoke a command but it's a great way of finding commands you never knew existed; try it yourself and you will discover that AutoCAD has a lot of commands…
Also, you can press SHIFT+TAB to walk back through the list.
UPDATE: On Nov. 10th, we posted that you could use CHAMFER as a way to trim up lines without having to change your Fillet Radius. We've learned, from an alert reader, that if you fillet your lines while holding down SHIFT then the current default fillet radius value will be ignored. It's a bold, new world.
When you want an accurate dimension, but also want specific text to appear below the dimension line, select the desired dimension and open the Text Override option in the Properties palette. Enter brackets (<>) to tell AutoCAD to use the default associative dimension text, then enter a backslash \ followed by an uppercase X (a lowercase x will not work). That tells AutoCAD to place the remainder of the text below the dimension line. Next, enter the text.
[Top Dimension] <> GO FROM THIS TEXT
[Bottom Dimension] <> \XTO THIS TEXT
Object snaps are really important in AutoCAD and in addition to the running object snaps, many AutoCAD users have the Object Snap toolbar permanently docked on their screen. However, as screen space is often at a premium, you might like to consider accessing the object snaps from the Shift + Right-click menu.
If you didn't know about this, you'll find that it's even better than the Object Snap toolbar because it takes up no space and it contains all the object snaps including "Mid Between 2 Points" and the Point Filters.
Do you want to turn it into one? <Y>When using PEDIT and selecting an object which is not a polyline you will get a message asking if you want to turn it into a polyline. This can be quite annoying if you're having to create closed polylines from a bunch of lines. To stop getting this message, type PEDITACCEPT and press Enter. Then type 1 and press Enter. This will automatically answer "yes" to the question in future.
Often, you find yourself using the Trim command to tidy up loose ends of lines. If this is the case, don't bother selecting cutting edges, just use the "select all" option.
Start the Trim command, ModifyTrim from the pull-down menu or TRIM from the command line. At the prompt, simply hit (Enter) to accept the <select all> option.
Now, just pick the line ends you want to remove.
There's another old trick. We hardly ever use CHAMFER, so we use it to clean-up corners. Set the distance of the chamfer to "0", select the two lines...and you have two lines that meet with no overlap.