30 Great AutoCAD Secrets You Didn’t Know
Get the Most Out of Your AutoCAD Software with These Tips
Anybody who works in architecture or engineering knows about AutoCAD. It is one of the most recognizable digital design software in both industries. Masters of the AutoCAD software can create detailed drawings that show clients exactly what they can expect from construction work.
AutoCAD also has a ton of depth. You could work with it for years and still not use all of what it has to offer. That’s where this article can help. We are going to look at 30 little AutoCAD secrets that you may not know.
Secret #1 – Using Data Extraction for Reports
The AutoCAD software offers much more than the ability to design objects. A lot of data lies underneath any drawing you create in the software. You can access all of it using the Data Extraction tool. A wizard in AutoCAD shows you how to use the tool. Select the data you want and you can use it to generate reports, schedules, and lists of the parts you will use.
Secret #2 – The Content Explorer
There’s a lot to see in the Plug-ins ribbon tab. If you head to the Content panel and click the Content Explorer tool, you can search for anything related to your drawing. Just type a keyword into the search bar. AutoCAD will then find whatever you’re looking for and take you to it. You can use this to find different layers and any text you’ve added to your drawings.
Secret #3 – The closeall Command
The AutoCAD software comes with a command prompt that you can use to execute actions quickly. This is where you would use the “closeall” command. All it does is close any drawings you have open in the software. It may not seem like much but it’s a huge timesaver if you’re working on a lot of drawings simultaneously and need to finish up fast.
Secret #4 – The Align Tool
How many times have you spent valuable minutes trying to get a drawing aligned properly? All of that scaling, moving and rotating distracts away from your work. That’s where the Align tool comes in handy. A lot of AutoCAD software experts forget about this tool. Use it to bring your drawings in line quickly.
Secret #5 – Playing With Dimension Lines
You don’t need to create manual breaks when working on dimension lines. AutoCAD has a tool that will do the job for you. It’s called DIMBREAK. Activate it and you can make a break in a dimension line will keep all of the related dimensions in place. You can also use DIMSPACE if you need to create uniform spaces between bunches of broken dimension lines.
Secret #6 – The Saveall Command
We’re back to the command prompt again. Before using “closeall” to shut your drawings down, use “saveall”. The name says it all. The command will save every drawing you have open. It’s ideal for quickly getting all of your work saved when you have to leave the office in a hurry.
Secret #7 – Lasso Selections
AutoCAD introduced Lasso selections into the mix in the 2015 version of the software so a lot of users may have missed them. Activate the tool and hold the left mouse button down. Drag the cursor in the desired direction and release the button. Do it again to create a Lasso that selects every object that you need in the drawing.
Secret #8 – Creating PDFs
Did you know that you can create PDF files featuring your AutoCAD drawings? It’s true. The digital design software actually has a big button on the ribbon for the task. This creates a PDF using the software’s default settings. You can change these settings if you click Plot and select DWG to PDF from the drop-down list. Head into properties and make whatever changes you need to the file.
Secret #9 – The burst Command
Do you need to separate all of the elements of an object or block quickly? Need to keep the original attributes in-tact when you do? That’s where the “burst” command proves useful. Type it into the command prompt and it will separate all of the elements of your selected object while keeping the object’s attributes.
Secret #10 – The MATCHPROP Tool
If you create a few different drawings you may want to match specific properties of the drawings. This is especially the case when you have created each drawing to a different standard. You can go through and match the relevant attributes separately after completing the drawings. Or, you can use the MATCHPROP tool to do it all in one place. This allows you to choose the properties of each drawing that you want to match.
Secret #11 – Import Point Clouds into AutoCAD
Since the release of the 2011 version of the AutoCAD software, you can bring any point cloud data you want into AutoCAD. Click on the Insert tab and use to index whatever data you need to bring over. Using point clouds allows you to add a bunch of new details to your drawing that can really make a big difference in presentations.
Secret #12 – Cycling Through Viewports
The AutoCAD software always seems to default to the largest viewport you have open. This is often infuriating when you’re trying to select a smaller viewport that you have open inside the larger viewport. Ctrl + R will solve all of your issues. Press it to activate the largest viewport then keep pressing to cycle through every other view you have active until you hit the right one.
Secret #13 – Enabling Snap to Hatch
Older versions of the AutoCAD software allow you to snap to a hatch. Later versions don’t, which could irritate some people who used the tool a lot. Happily, Snap to Hatch still exists in AutoCAD. You can head into the Drafting Settings in the Option tab. Scroll to the Object Snap Options section and uncheck “Ignore hatch objects” to get the functionality back.
Secret #14 – The Multiple Command
Let’s say you need to repeat a command several times in a row. Typing it in over and over can waste a lot of time. That’s where the “multiple” command can help. Type “multiple” and follow it with the command you want to repeat. AutoCAD will then repeat the command constantly until you press the ESC key to end the sequence.
Secret #15 – The Overkill Command
It may sound a little violent but the “overkill” command can really improve your workflow in the AutoCAD software. Type it in to the command prompt and AutoCAD will start cleaning up your drawing. It goes through the drawing and deletes duplicates and overlapping lines. Execute the command when you’ve finished a drawing to add that extra layer of polish.
Secret #16 – Quickly Changing Text Case
It’s annoying when you type text out and realise you wanted it in the opposite case. Happily, you don’t have to retype the text in AutoCAD. Instead, right click the text editor and select the option to Change Case to do the job quicker. You could also use keyboard shortcuts. Ctrl + Shift + L changes the text to lowercase whereas Ctrl + Shift + U sets it to uppercase.
Secret #17 – Deleting Layer Filters
When you’re ready to present a drawing you may want to delete any layer filters you’ve used. This reduces the file size, making the drawing easier to send to others. Click on the Layer dialog box and head to the Named Layer Filters section by clicking on the “…” button. From here you can choose the Delete All option to get rid of any leftover layer filters.
Secret #18 – The Oops Command
The “oops” command is great for getting rid of parts of a drawing for a little while so you can make changes. It brings back anything you applied the “erase” command to, without undoing any edits you’ve made since you last used the “erase” command. Use it to create uncluttered drawing areas before restoring the clutter when needed.
Secret #19 – Group over Block
Blocking objects together is great for the finished drawing but it may not offer the flexibility you need. That’s where grouping comes in. Grouped objects have several grip points relevant to the original set of objects. Blocks only have a single grip point for the entire set of objects. Group first, make any edits you need, then Block the objects together for best results.
Secret #20 – Cycling Objects
If you have a lot of separate objects piled together on a drawing, it can be a pain to pick one object out of the lot. You can use the Ctrl key to help with this. Hold the key down as you pick a location. The AutoCAD Software will then cycle through all of the objects under the cursor until you find the one that you want to work on.
Secret #21 – The Join Command
Ideal for bringing a bunch of lines together, the “join” command works in a similar way to the “pedit” command. Just select every line you want to pull together and type “join” into the command prompt. AutoCAD will do the rest of the work for you and you’ll have a set of joined lines in no time.
Secret #22 – DIMROTATED
Have you heard of the DIMROTATED command? It’s a surprise if you have. It doesn’t make an appearance in the AutoCAD software’s documentation. You won’t even find it in the toolbar. Still, it exists. It’s ideal for working with the dimensions of staggered drawings, especially when the DIMALIGNED command doesn’t get the job done properly.
Secret #23 – Using PSLTSCALE
Many people use the PSLTSCALE command in AutoCAD. What you may not know is that the command reverts back to its default setting on every layout. That means you will need to reset it to the variable you want if you want that variable to apply across several layouts.
Secret #24 – Creating Corners with Chamfer
Chamfer is one of the AutoCAD software’s most used commands. You can use it for all sorts of things, including creating corners quickly. Combine the Trim tool with chamfer. Use 0 as the chamfer distance and then extend or trim the lines as needed. You can also hold the Shift key to set the chamfer distance back to 0 until you let go of the key.
Secret #25 – Selecting Text via Word Fragments
You may not always want to find text objects using entire words in the object. For example, you may have several commands that use the same set of characters in a row with other words surrounding them. The FILTER command can help with this. Type “Filter” into the Select Objects prompt and select Text Value in the Selected Filter list. Type the word fragment into the X field with * on either end of the fragment. For example, use *CUT* to find any text strings that have the word “cut” at any place in the string.
Secret #26 – Changing Properties Back to ByLayer
If you get a drawing from somebody else you may find that person has overridden all of properties of the objects they’ve made. This is really annoying when all of the objects are on Layer0 of the drawing. You may need to change the properties back to ByLayer to get to work again. Just use the SETBYLAYER tool to revert it all back to the defaults.
Secret #27 – Adding Block to the Tool Palette
This is really useful if you have a bunch of blocks that you use in a lot of drawings. Open the Design Centre and click the file in question. Click the + sign and then right click on any blocks you want to add to your Tool Palette. When you’re done, click on Create Tool Palette.
Secret #28 – The Command Alias
The command alias is one of the AutoCAD software’s most useful tools. Activate it and use it to create basic shapes and objects quickly. For example, you can type “C” to get a circle or “L” to generate a quick line. You can even customize the different commands if you edit the acad.pgp file.
Secret #29 – Changing the Mouse Wheel Speed
You can use your mouse to zoom in and out on the AutoCAD software. That isn’t the secret. The secret is that you can change how fast that happens. Use the ZOOMFACTOR command to bring the variable up. It’s set at 60 by default. A lower value slows the zoom down, with a higher value doing the opposite. You can go between three and 100.
Secret #30 – Drag and Drop
You don’t have to search through a bunch of dialog boxes to open a drawing you have saved. Instead, you can find the file using your computer’s file explorer and drag it into AutoCAD. Drop it into the software and voila.
The Final Word
Whether you’re new to the AutoCAD or have used it for years, we hope you have found something useful in this list. ArchiStar Academy offers more in-depth tutorials and offers the latest versions of AutoCAD at lower prices than you will find anywhere else.
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Posted on 15 Nov 2019