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AutoCAD R14, 2000, 2000i and 2002 Tips
More AutoCAD 2004 Tips

AutoCAD 2004 Tips

If you want to save your AutoCAD file to a floppy disk in what is typically labeled the A drive, you should never do so directly from within AutoCAD. To do so, you need to invoke the SAVEAS command, and then enter the path (including the drive) and drawing name in the Save As Drawing dialog box. However, as you continue to work, AutoCAD will repeatedly look to your A drive for resources, which causes AutoCAD to get bogged down since the A drive isn't as fast or reliable as your computer's hard drive. A better way to get your work on a floppy disk is to first type qsave at the command line, choose File Save, or press [Ctrl]S to save the file on your hard drive. If this is the first time you saved your file, the Save Drawing As dialog box launches and you'll need to name your file and choose a location for your file on your hard drive. If you saved the file at a previous time, the SAVE command simply updates the drawing with all of the changes you made to it since the last save. Next, type saveas at the command line, or choose File Save As to launch (or relaunch) the Save Drawing As dialog box. Finally, right-click on the filename you just used to save your work in the Save Drawing As dialog box, and choose Send To > 3 1/2 Floppy (A) in the resulting shortcut menu to save the file to a floppy disk without disrupting the path AutoCAD uses to find the file's resources.

You can Drag 'n' Drop a TXT file into your drawing from either a Folder Window or the Windows Explorer. This could be a fast way of dropping in specification notes.

Command Line Sequence:

Command: DTEXT
Justify/Style/ :
Height <0.2000>:
Rotation angle <0>:
Text: {Drag 'n' Drop TXT file at the cursor location on the screen.}

If you have lines within your drawing that you'd like to fillet that you built without the POLYLINE command, you can quickly convert your series of lines to a polyline using the PEDIT command and then use the polyline option during your FILLET command to put fillets on each corner of the polyline -- all at one time.

To convert your series of lines to a polyline, type PEDIT at the command line and when prompted to select objects, select one of the objects on your screen. AutoCAD will tell you that the line isn't a polyline and then will ask you if you want to turn that line into one. Reply Y for yes and press [Enter]. At the next prompt, Enter an option [Close/Join/Width/Edit vertex/Fit/Spline/Decurve/Ltype gen/Undo]: type J for join and press [Enter]. You're then prompted to select the objects onscreen to join. Draw a window around the objects you want to join together as a polyline. Press [Enter] again to exit the command. Your objects have been joined as a polyline and you're now ready to use the FILLET command.

First specify a radius for your fillet by typing FILLET at the command line and then entering R for radius. Then, type a value for the radius and press [Enter]. Press [Enter] again to re-enter the FILLET command and this time type P for polyline in response to the prompt. Select your newly created polyline on your screen and all the corners are filleted onscreen.

The new SOLIDEDIT command (open the Edit Solids toolbar for easy access) has an option that lets you separate solids. Many people have been confused about this option, because it requires that the solids be non-touching. So aren't they already separate? It turns out that the UNION command can combine non-touching solids. Think of it as a way of grouping solids. Then, the Separate option can separate these solids.

The command SOLPROFILE is extremely useful in that it can be used to generate profiles in an Mview with paper space activated (tilemode = 0). This is accomplished by issuing the SOLPROFILE command while in the mspace of an Mview. Another way to show hidden properties requires plotting the solids hidden just as if they were 3D faces. This process is much quicker. Use the HIDEPLOT option of the MVIEW command to hide the plot instead of the hide lines toggle in the plot dialog. If paper space is not desired, a profile can be generated and the block which is created in model space can be maintained and altered there instead.

Two setvar commands that are absolutely necessary while using solids are DISPSILH (display silhouettes) and ISOLINES (controls number of faces on an object). These must be set to 1and 0 respectfully. This will remove any faces normally associated with the solid. Other setvars which are helpful in working with solids are HIDEPRECISION, HALOGAP, OBSCUREDLTYPE, and OBSCUREDCOLOR. Please refer to the appropriate AutoCAD documentation for more information on these setvars.

Both the off and frozen states make layers invisible. AutoCAD introduced the frozen and thawed layer states to reduce regeneration time - and that’s the main difference between On/Off and Thawed/Frozen layer visibility options. However, today’s computers are faster, and AutoCAD has since introduced several ways to avoid regeneration while panning and zooming - such as Aerial View, Zoom Dynamic, and real-time zooming and panning. Also, remember that thawing a layer causes a regeneration, whereas turning a layer back on only causes a redraw. As a result, you might actually save a regeneration by using On/Off instead of Thawed/Frozen.

Applies to: AutoCAD® 2004
If, due to previous formatting limitations of multiline text, you are in the habit of creating many single-line text objects, you may want to rethink your text creation methods in AutoCAD® 2004. The ability to use tabs and indents in the Multiline Text Editor enables you to create well formatted notes and tables within a single text object. You can easily convert existing multiple text objects to a single multiline text object using the TXT2MTXT express tool. From the Express menu (Express Tools are included on the AutoCAD 2004 install CD but are not automatically installed), choose Text > Convert Text to MText. Select all of the text objects you want to combine into a single Mtext object. A Text to MText options dialog box offers more control over the conversion process.

In AutoCAD 2002 and up, you can double-click on various objects to bring up the applicable editing command or Properties dialog box. Double-click an xref to bring up Refedit, for example, a hatch to bring up Hatchedit, and Mtext to bring up Ddedit. Other objects you can double-click include text, mlines, attribute definitions, leader text, blocks, and attributes within blocks.

AutoCAD has an autosave feature that is often not used. To set up the autosave feature, type SAVETIME at the command prompt or look in the Options Dialog box. Here, type in how often you want AutoCAD to autosave for you. We suggest 10-20 minutes. If your computer does crash, the autosave file is called dwgname*****.SV$, unless it was changed in the configuration. Just rename it to a DWG file (eg. TEMP.DWG) and open it like any other AutoCAD drawing.

Another way to divide a circle is to draw a polygon with the number of sides equal to the number that you want to divide the circle into. Draw the polygon with the center in the center of your circle. Make the poygon Inscribed and pick a point on the circle (a quadrant or nearest) then you can draw lines from the center of the circle to the intersections of the polygon.

This tip applies to AutoCAD 2004. Although you may typically run AutoCAD by accessing a license from a network license server, there may be situations where you need to run AutoCAD without access to the network. For example, you may need to work from home or a project site. Or maybe the network is scheduled for extended maintenance and will be inaccessible to an entire department. With AutoCAD 2004, you can borrow (check out) a network license for up to 30 days. You can return (check in) the license early or simply let it expire, automatically returning the license to the server. To borrow a network license, choose Programs > AutoCAD 2004 > License Borrowing Utility from the Windows Start menu. License borrowing is an installation option when creating a network deployment, so if you cannot find this utility, check with your CAD manager.

This tip applies especially to new users - always keep your eye on the command line area. AutoCAD will walk you through any command and its options, as long as you read the command prompts. Set the command prompt area to 3 lines. Some commands list information above the command prompt that cannot be seen with only one or two lines showing in the command prompt area. Some people like to move the command line to the top of the screen. This makes it easier to keep your eye on the commands.

When you're working with hatches, specifically brick patterns, you usually want the pattern to start at the bottom so that the full height of the first brick of the course appears, instead of just part of a brick. To achieve this, you can use the SNAPBASE and HATCHEDIT commands to pick a new origin point. To begin, create your hatch and then enter snapbase on the command line. Press [Enter] and select the desired origin point (e.g., bottom-left corner for brick patterns). Next, enter hatchedit on the command line and select the associtative hatch pattern you want to redefine (the hatch pattern must be associative for the HATCHEDIT command to work). When you do, the Hatch Edit dialog box is displayed. Simply click the OK button and the associative hatch rehatches itself based on the new origin point. If you have a number of associative hatch patterns that need new origin points, you can use this technique to redefine their origin points without having to rehatch.

For those of you who remember - in AutoCAD 14 when you use the PASTECLIP command to paste an object in your drawing, you're prompted for scaling and rotating options. AutoCAD 2000 and up doesn't prompt you for these options but they're still available. To use them, at the "Specify insertion point" prompt, type 'R' for the rotate options or 'S' for the scale options, as shown in the following example:

Specify insertion point: R
Specify rotation angle: 90
Specify insertion point: S
Specify scale factor for XYZ axes: 2.5

Then at the next Specify insertion point prompt, either enter a point or click in the drawing to paste the object.

You can create a circle tangent to other objects by using the 2-point (2P) or 3-point (3P) method and picking those points with the Tangent object snap. When you choose Draw > Circle (from the menu), AutoCAD includes a tan tan tan option, enabling you to specify a circle tangent to three objects.

Have you ever wanted to copy an object repeatedly at equal distances from the original object? If you're copying along a straight line (vertically or horizontally), there's an easy way to do it. Before you begin copying your object, turn Ortho on. Next, select the object you wish to copy. Click on one of the object grips to make the grip hot, which begins the Stretch command. Press [spacebar] to change the command to Move, then type c (for copy) and press [Enter].

Now you must select the point where you want your first copy. You can click on this point on the screen or type it at the command line. Now, simply press [Shift] and move the cursor. You'll see that when you select a point next to the copy, the new object copy is placed the same distance from the original copy that the original copy is from the original object. You can repeat this process to place as many object copies as you want at equal distances along a straight line.

If you find yourself having to access the same Xrefs over and over again, you might want to add a hyperlink to the drawing - wherever it's physically located. To add a hyperlink, start by opening the Properties dialog box by selecting Modify Properties from the menu bar, and then select the Xref in question. Next, click in the Hyperlink text box which exposes a new box with three dots. Click on the box to open the Insert Hyperlink dialog box. (Note: You can also open the Insert Hyperlink dialog box by typing Hyperlink at the command line and selecting the Xref.) Next, click on the Browse for: File... button, locate the Xref file, click on Open and then click OK to exit the command.

To verify that the link is working, run your cursor over the Xref - you should see the Hyperlink icon and a tool tip showing the location of the Xref. Select the Xref, then right-click to open the shortcut menu. From the shortcut menu, select Hyperlink and then click Open - AutoCAD opens the Xref drawing.

The most obvious problem is that you can't open a drawing. Here are some techniques to try:

(a) Rename the drawing's BAK (backup) file by changing its filename extension to .dwg and see if you can open that.

(b) Find any temporary files ($ by default) and rename them with a DWG extension and try to open them.

(c) Open a new drawing and try to insert the drawing (use the INSERT command). If it works, EXPLODE the drawing after you insert it. Then use the AUDIT command.

(d) Open a new drawing and try to insert the drawing as an external reference. (Choose Insert > External Reference.) Then use the AUDIT command.

(e) If the drawing crashes just when it seems to be almost loaded, try again but this time press Esc repeatedly until the loading is complete. This procedure stops the regeneration of the drawing, which may be causing the crash. Then use the AUDIT command.

(e) Finally, try the RECOVER command. Open a new drawing and choose File > Drawing Utilities > Recover. Choose the drawing from the dialog box and click OK. Actually, there's no harm in using RECOVER first and then trying the other techniques.

If you can open a drawing but get an error message, use the AUDIT command, which you can find right next to the RECOVER command on the File menu. AutoCAD tries to correct any errors.

We also suggest you set the AUDITCTL system variable to 1 to create a log file of the results of the AUDIT command in your working folder with the same name as your drawing and a filename extension of .adt. He notes that this report is overwritten every time you use the AUDIT command, so it you want to save it, move it to another folder or rename the file. You can also send this file to Autodesk to help them troubleshoot your drawing.

If you can't correct some settings, and it's driving you crazy trying to find them, select everything in the drawing and choose Edit > Copy to copy everything to the Clipboard. Open a new drawing with a template you know and trust and choose Edit > Paste. You can also open a new drawing with the Start from Scratch option to open a drawing with as few settings as possible. Another technique is to use WBLOCK to save all the objects in the drawing as a new drawing file. This is similar to the previous technique.

Erasing a hatch object in AutoCAD when the PICKSTYLE setvar (system variable) is set to 3 causes objects associated with the hatch to be erased as well. This occurs because AutoCAD is instructed to treat the hatch and any associated objects as a single entity. If you don't want associated objects to be deleted when erasing hatch objects, set PICKSTYLE to 1 so that AutoCAD treats the hatch and any associated object as separate entities.

Have you ever wanted a command to repeat itself, like some AutoCAD commands automatically do? For example, the Fillet command only runs through the command once. You can tell AutoCAD to repeat any command. At the command line, type the Multiple command. AutoCAD asks for the command that you would like to repeat - in this case, Fillet. Now, the Fillet command continues to be the active command until you exit by pressing [Esc]. Try this on any command and you'll find many uses for it.

Here's how to get the Architectural Desktop 2004 Easter Egg:

Go to the Style Manager
Create a new door style and call it "ExeterNH"
Omit the quotes of course
Right click and the new option will appear of "Whats this?"
Click it and a credits list appears.

Step 1: Launch Architectural Desktop 2004
Step 2: Select the Format pull-down and select Style Manager...
Step 3: Create a new door style and call it "ExeterNH" (Omit quotes)
Step 4: Right click on the door style and select "What this?"

The Architectural Desktop Team credits appear. 

Note that under the "Fun and Games" tab there is a little slide game.

The Mtext Editor has three secret options that many people miss. In the Mtext window, select the text you've entered and right- click inside the text area. Then choose one of the options: 

(1) Change Case to change the text to all uppercase or all lowercase. 
(2) Choose Remove Formatting to return all text to Txt font and remove bold, italic and other formatting. 
(3) Choose Combine Paragraphs to do just that.

Have you ever use mtext and noticed that the line spacing sometimes changes between individual lines? There's a setting that controls this behavior:

(1) After selecting an MTEXT object, right-click and choose "Properties" from the shortcut menu to open the Properties dialog box. 
(2) Find the "Line Space Style" option under Text, and click on "At Least" to change it to "Exactly". This makes the distance between all lines equal. 

On another note, if you click on the Line Space Factor text box, you can quickly adjust this setting as well.

The RENAME command provides a convenient way to quickly rename multiple object types. Click the object type in the left pane (Blocks, Dimension Styles, Layers, Linetypes, Text Styles, UCSs, Viewports, Views) and the right pane will list the different item names. Click an item in the right pane and type in the new name in the 'Rename To:' field.

AutoCAD 2002 and up allows true associative dimensioning. DIMASSOC is the AutoCAD system variable that controls the associativity of dimensions. Try the following: 

(1) Create a rectangular object on the drawing screen. 
(2) Initiate the DIMLINEAR (Linear Dimension) command. Dimension the object both horizontally and vertically. 
(3) Select the object, grab the corner grip mark and drag. If the dimensions do not follow, your dimensions are not truly associative to the object. Move to step 4.
(4) Type DIMASSOC on the command line. Set the value to be 2. 
(5) Re-dimension the object, select the corner grip mark and watch the results. This is true associative dimensioning. 

If you already have placed a dimension and it is not truly associative to it's object, it is possible to re-associate the dimensions. 

(1) Type DIMREASSOCIATE at the command line. (the shortcut key is DRE)
(2) The command line will prompt you to select dimension objects. Do so.
(3) Small X marks will appear at each dimension origin point. Select the X mark using an Endpoint OSNAP. After selecting the first X mark another X will appear at the next origin point. Select it. That dimension string has now been re-associated with the adjacent object.

If you like to surf the net for AutoLISP, or even try your hand at writing routines, you may find creating a profile by the name JUNK to be useful. You can also amend the file paths to include a junk directory. When you want to try a less-than-proven LISP routine and you don't know if it will mess up your desktop settings, switch to your JUNK profile before you try it. That way if things don't go as you had planned, you can switch back to your normal profile with all your favorite settings.

Use the 'Lengthen' (shortcut = LEN) command to find the length of an object rather than using the list command. Start the Lengthen command and pick the object (Lines, Circles, Arcs, Polylines etc) to find the length of the object. But that's not all - you can also lengthen or shorten the object:

(a) 'Delta' changes the length of an object by a specified increment, measured from the endpoint that is closest to the selection point. Delta also changes the angle of an arc by a specified increment, measured from the endpoint that is closest to the selection point. A positive value extends the object; a negative value trims it.

(b) 'Percent' sets the length of an object by a specified percentage of its total length. Percent also changes the angle of an arc by a specified percentage of the total included angle of the arc.

(c) 'Total' sets the length of a selected object by specifying the total absolute length from the fixed endpoint. Total also sets the included angle of a selected arc by a specified total angle.

(d) 'Dynamic' turns on Dynamic Dragging mode. You change the length of a selected object by dragging one of its endpoints. The other end remains fixed.

Since the location of a hyperlinked object is not obvious in a drawing, the tip would be to create a separate 'Hyperlink' layer as well as a 'Hyperlink Legend' with blocks or icons that represent what the hyperlink initializes.

If you have to plot two or more Layout tabs, there is a trick to plot them all at once. Assuming each Layout has already been set-up for plotting, do the following: 

(1) Make the first Layout active. 
(2) Hold down the 'Shift' key, and click on the last layout tab. This will highlight all of the tabs (Note: if you don't want all of the layout tabs selected, simply hold down the 'Ctrl' key and select the tabs you want removed). 
(3) Click on the Printer icon from the toolbar, or, enter the PLOT command. 
(4) When the 'Plot' dialog box appears, select whether to want to 'Plot to File' or not, and then simply click the 'OK' button.

As strange as it seems, you may want to assign a height of 0.0 to your text style. A text style defined with height other than 0.0 is called a 'fixed' height style. This means that the size of the text you create using the style is fixed, or preset to the style height. Setting a height of 0.0 allows you to control the size of the text at the time you place it in the drawing.

You can modify more than one layer at a time. In the Layer Properties Manager dialog box (click Layers on the Object Properties toolbar) right-click and choose Select All or Clear All. Choose a range of layers by clicking the first layer, holding down Shift and clicking the last in the range. Choose multiple individual layers by pressing Ctrl as you choose each additional layer. Changes to color, linetype, or lineweight affect all the selected layers. And don't forget that you can sort the listing by any column. For example, if you want to change all your red layers to magenta, click the word "Color" at the top of the Color column to sort all your layers by color. You can now easily select all the red layers to change their color.

The new SOLIDEDIT command (open the Edit Solids toolbar for easy access) has an option that lets you separate solids. Many people have been confused about this option, because it requires that the solids be non-touching. So aren't they already separate? It turns out that the UNION command can combine non-touching solids. Think of it as a way of grouping solids. Then, the Separate option can separate these solids.

Do you work with several toolbars open just so you'll have one or two buttons available from each toolbar? You can easily create your own toolbar with the buttons you use most. Choose View > Toolbars to open the Customize dialog box. Click New on the Toolbars tab and name the toolbar. There's now a small empty toolbar on your screen. Open the toolbars that contain the buttons you want. Hold down the Ctrl key (to copy rather than move the buttons), drag the buttons you want onto the new toolbar, and close the Customize dialog box.

Navigating around really complex drawings with the PAN command can be tricky. Here's an easy trick to help you keep your bearings while panning. Hold the [Shift] key down and AutoCAD limits the PAN command to strictly vertical or horizontal movements - exactly what the ORTHO command does when drawing lines.

Many users like to work with three or four running object snaps on at once, such as endpoint, midpoint, center, and intersection. If you can’t find the object snap you want because you have several object snaps near each other, press the Tab key to cycle through the object snaps, one by one, until you find the one that you want.

Here's an easy way to find the coordinates of multiple lines. Grip the line, pline or object that you want the coordinates of and move the cursor over the grip box (but don't pick the point). The cursor automatically snaps to the grip box and displays the coordinates in the coordinate box in the bottom left corner. For the next point, just move the cursor to the next grip box, and so on.

If you hold down the [Shift] or [Ctrl] key and right-click on your drawing area, you'll see a menu with all the snap functions at the end of your cursor.

If you like to use the keyboard whenever possible, try using the + and + keys to navigate through drawing layouts. This functionality is new in AutoCAD 2004.

If you like to use the keyboard whenever possible, try using the [Ctrl]+[PageUp] and [Ctrl]+ [PageDown] keys to navigate through drawing layouts. This functionality is new in AutoCAD 2004.

You can use a shortcut menu to quickly move or copy objects such as lines, splines or polylines. To try this, first select the object. Then right-click and hold down the mouse button as you drag the object to the desired location. When you release the mouse button, a shortcut menu appears giving you the option to move or copy the object to that spot. 

Array has an option to specify a "Unit cell" for the distance between rows and columns. Most users have never tried this. Unit cell simply allows you to pick two points. It will array the selected objects the X & Y distance between the two points you picked. This works well for ceiling grids. So - instead of giving a distance between rows, pick two points for a Unit cell distance.

You may have noticed that when you go to the ARC mode within the PLINE command, the first and consecutive 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 segment drawn will be tangent off the last arc. Its the 2nd L that does the trick.

When printing 3d objects remember the system variable "DISPSILH". It removes the extra lines attached to a curved surface of ACIS solid when issuing the "HIDE" command.

To switch between Xref Attachment Types of Attach vs. Overlay once you have the Xref with in your drawing without detaching and reloading the drawing you can just bring up the Xref Manager and just Dbl-click on the Xref row and with in the column named "Type". This will cause the type to toggle between Attach to Overlay or Overlay to Attach.

If you've ever used a dashed line in model space only to have it appear as a continuous line when displayed in paper space, you can remedy this situation by using the PSLTSCALE variable. 

When the PSLTSCALE variable is set to 0, there is no special linetype scaling. The length of the dashes in dashed lines is based on the drawing units of the space the objects were created in (model or paper). This is controlled by the global LTSCALE factor.

If the PSLTSCALE variable is set to 1, the viewport in which you're viewing the line controls the line scaling. If you're in paper space, the dash lengths are based on paper space drawing units. Viewports can have different magnifications, but the linetypes will display identically. You can still however, control the dash lengths with LTSCALE. 

To remedy the dashed line appearance in paper space, toggle back and forth between PSLTSCALE equal to 0 or 1. This will display your paper space linetypes exactly like your model space linetypes, without changing your drawing's overall LTSCALE.

Try the ALIGN command. This command will move the object from one point to another and then rotate and scale it as needed.

Layer Locking is something that was introduced to AutoCAD a few versions ago, yet it still hasn't completely caught on despite its usefulness. Layer Locking is ideal for entities which should never change, such as existing ground contours, utilities, and as-built features. If you Lock these layers - entities on those layers are visible but can not be modified, or even selected. Locking layers lets you protect objects from accidental editing and speeds up redraws.

Using AutoCAD's support for Wheel mice can be a huge timesaver by virtually eliminating the need for other ZOOM and PAN commands. Rolling the wheel forward will zoom into the desired area, while rolling the wheel back will zoom away from the desired area. Notice by placing the crosshairs over the desired area, that will be the focal point of the zoom. You can control the speed of the zoom with the ZOOMFACTOR system variable. The value can be set anywhere from 3 to 100, try different values until you find a speed you are comfortable with. Holding the wheel down will invoke the PAN command, and pressing the CTRL key along with holding the wheel down will invoke the continuous Pan feature. Moreover, a simple double-click of the wheel will initiate a ZOOM EXTENTS. These features can and should be used transparently inside of your AutoCAD commands.

If objects no longer appear during the move or copy command, you need to change the DRAGMODE setting. To see the objects when you are moving them, type the command DRAGMODE at the command prompt, and set it to AUTO.

When you're unable to get the exact selection you desire because the objects you wish to select are in a tight spot, you can switch to a crosshair or window selection method. To do this, enter C for crossing or W for window on the command line. This allows for a far more accurate selection.

To restore the "Highlighting" of objects when selected, type the command HIGHLIGHT at the command prompt, and set it to 1, this is ON.

To create a polyline of a closed space, use the BPOLY command. This command works similar to the hatch command, but creates a polyline instead of hatch.

In AutoCAD 2002 and above, the Trim and Extend commands will automatically trim and extend to entities inside xrefs and blocks. In AutoCAD 2000, under Express tools there is a tool called " Trim to Block Entities". This command will let you select edges of a block or xref to be used as cutting edges.

The COPYHIST command copies the contents of the Text Window to Windows clipboard. Later on you may paste the information into a text file within Notepad or any other proper text editor.

When you roll the middle wheel of the mouse the zoom scale of the drawing will change. The amount of zoom can be controlled with ZOOMFACTOR system variable. The initial value of the system variable is 60 and it can accept whole numbers between 3 to 100. The more this number the greater zoom scale factor when you roll the mouse wheel.

In AutoCAD 2004 you can control the visibility of status buttons. On the status bar click the right-most down arrow. A menu appears. Select or deselect the options to change the visibility of the status buttons.

By default AutoCAD 2004 shows the full path of the current drawing file in title bar. To remove this feature:

Invoke OPTIONS. 
Select Open and Save tab. 
Deselect Display full path in title. 

The new AutoCAD DesignCenter contains a tab through which you can download blocks from Internet. 
Make sure you are connected to the Internet. 
Click DC Online tab. 
Open the proper folder on the left pane. 
Drag and drop the symbol to the drawing environment. 

In AutoCAD 2004 you have the chance to add passwords to your drawing files. If an unauthorized person have access to this feature can cause great losses. You can easily remove this feature. If you have already installed AutoCAD 2004:

Start Setup utility. The AutoCAD 2004 setup window appears. 
Click Install. 
Make sure "Add or Remove Features" is selected. 
Click Next. 
Disable "Drawing Encryption" option. 
Continue with the installation. 
If you haven't installed AutoCAD 2004 yet: At the time of installation select the Custom option and disable Drawing Encryption.

In AutoCAD 2004 you can define a sample text to appear on screen when you invoke the MTEXT command. The sample text can be any string up to 10 letters. It shows you how your text will look like if you do not make any changes to text style settings.

The default sample is "abc". You can use MTJIGSTRING system variable to change the default. Following is an example [Figure]:

Command: mtjigstring

Enter new value for MTJIGSTRING, or . for none <"abc">: cad panel

AutoCAD 2004 presents a new toolbar called Styles. The toolbar is enabled by default. You can select the current text style and dimension style from the associated lists or change and define the styles by clicking on the associated buttons 

You can use the XCLIP command to set clipping boundaries for Xrefs and blocks. If the block or Xref is a 3D model you can also define a front or back clipping plane for it.

Compound objects are those that comprise more than one AutoCAD objects. Following is a list of compound objects in AutoCAD:

2D and lightweight polylines 
3D polylines 
3D Solids 
3D Meshes 
Polyface Meshes 
You can use EXPLODE command to break a compound object into its components.

XPLODE is also used for the same purpose. With this command you can define a new layer, linetype, lineweight, or color for the components of the compound object after exploding.

Enter VIEWSIZE at command line to know about display height in drawing units. Entering VIEWCTR specifies the coordinates of middle point of current display. To use these values in AutoCAD commands use the AutoLISP expressions (getvar "viewsize") and (getvar "viewctr").

To draw a circle with center-area method first invoke circle command and draw it with center-radius or center-diameter method. The radius or diameter value is not important at this stage. Later invoke PROPERTIES command, select the circle and change the value of area to the desired one. There is a program in downloads page that you can use to automate this process. The command name used for this purpose is called CCA.

Since AutoCAD 2000 if you are using a wheeled mouse you can invoke Pan by dragging the middle wheel. You may alter the AutoCAD behavior by changing the value of MBUTTONPAN system variable. If MBUTTONPAN is equal to 1 the wheel will invoke Pan and if it is equal to 0 pressing the middle wheel will show the Object Snap shortcut menu.

To use the geometrical calculator within your AutoLISP programs add the following statement to the code:

(arxload "geomcal.arx")

Later you can use CAL as a normal AutoLISP function. The arguments should be quoted. For example if you want to find a point that is located in the middle of two other points you may use the following statement:

(cal "(pt1+pt2)/2")

When you mirror objects with MIRROR command the texts may become backwards or rather mirrored. To disable this feature alter MIRRTEXT system variable to 0. MIRRTEXT is saved in current drawing file. It accepts two values:

0: Retains text direction

1: Mirrors the text 

Every AutoCAD drawing can use one type of plot style table. When you create a new drawing the plot style table is also defined. The type of plot style depends on the template file that you use or the settings of Options dialog box. 

Converting the current drawing from named to color-dependent plot style: 

Invoke CONVERTPSTYLES command. A dialog box appears . 
Click OK. Done! 

Converting the current drawing from color-dependent to named plot style: 

Invoke CONVERTCTB command. This command creates a named plot style table based on a color-dependent table. A dialog box appears [Figure]. 

Select a color-dependent plot style table. 
Click Open. A similar dialog box appears. 
Specify a name to create the named plot style table. 
Click Save. 
Invoke CONVERTPSTYLES command. A dialog box appears. 
Click OK. Another dialog box appears. 
Select the converted table. 
Click Open. Done! 

You can use Zoom and Pan to scale and move the view. However, these commands are incapable in rotating the view. There are two commands available for 2D view rotation: 3DORBIT and DVIEW.

3DORBIT: To rotate a two dimensional view, invoke the command. Place mouse pointer outside the arc-ball. Drag the mouse in the outer area of the arc-ball.

DVIEW: Invoke the command. Select objects. Select Twist option. Enter the angle of rotation. This method can rotate the view with a precise angle.

Where is the Easter egg hidden in AutoCAD 2004? 
Start the Color dialog (e.g. with the _COLOR command). On the Index tab, Ctrl+Left click on the color box 152 ("Autodesk blue"). And, voila - Autodesk team presentation will run (you can control it interactively with your mouse: L=rotate/M=pan/R=zoom and keyboard: space=pause/enter=restart/Y=cheers/4=geyser).

If you need to run the dialog version of the PLOTSTAMP command even in your script files, menus and LISP applications, use its undocumented version _DDPLOTSTAMP.

Zoom V (VMAX) zooms to the maximum screen area (virtual space) which is available without regeneration. So this option offers a quick Zoom maximum.

If you need a non-rectangular viewport in paperspace, draw any closed polyline, circle or ellipse in a layout. Then run the _MVIEW command with the _Object option (or menu item: View-Viewports-Object) and so convert your outline entity to a irregular viewport.

Drawing information and settings of its system variables can be displayed using the _STATUS command or by _SETVAR ?.

You can use the _LOGFILEON command to echo all text window output to a file. The output file will be saved in AutoCAD directory with the name-pattern of drawingname_x_x_xxxx.log. Logging can be switched off using _LOGFILEOFF.

Do you want to have a textual list of current Xrefs used in your drawing?
Use the RTEXT command (Express Tools) and enter the Diesel expression: 

List of Xrefs: 

When you attach or detach a Xref - just regen your drawing to update the list.

Another way to save entities which would otherwise be erased by the Undo command is to copy (-C) the entities to the clipboard, then use the Undo command to go back to the drawing state that you want , then paste (-V) the entities back into your drawing.

You can quickly change the location of an attribute to clear other objects in a crowded drawing without resorting to the cumbersome ATTEDIT command. Pick any entity of the block to bring up the grips and then grab the attribute's insertion grip. With the STRETCH option active, drag the grip and the attribute will move. Any of the other grip options will affect the entire block so you can't use this technique to rotate attributes.

To create a complementary arc from an existing one, MIRROR the arc and select the very same arc endpoint as the two mirror base points, ignore the warning message and proceed. You get a complementary arc.

Usually dimension text is parallel to the dimension line. However, there may be times when you want to rotate the text independent of the dimension line. To do this, choose Dimension > Align Text > Angle. Next, select the dimension you want to change and then enter an angle value. When you press [Enter] the dimension text changes to the chosen angle. (This technique doesn't work with leaders.)

Have you ever needed to work with 3d Solids in AutoCAD and then needed to manipulate different parts of it or needed to convert the 3d object to faces. There is a way to convert your 3d objects to faces by using the 3DSOUT and 3DSIN commands. These functions are normally used to translate a drawing into 3D Studio, but can be used to convert 3d objects into faces

You can open drawings by dragging them from Windows Explorer into AutoCAD. If you drop one or more drawings anywhere outside the drawing area, for example, the command line or the blank space next to the toolbars, AutoCAD opens the drawings. However, if you drag a single drawing into the drawing area of an open drawing, the new drawing is not opened but inserted as a block. When you have multiple drawings open and want to change drawing there are two shortcuts CTRL+TAB or CTRL+SHIFT+TAB (reverse order).

You can change the read-only setting on a file by selecting the file in AutoCAD's Select File window, right-clicking and selecting Properties from the menu. The Read-only setting is located at the bottom of the window. Note: AutoCAD will display an error when saving if the BAK file is Read-only.

If for example you want to UNDO your previous nine commands, you can either hit 'U' nine times or type "UNDO", then "9". You can UNDO any number of steps with this method.

Command: UNDO
Enter the number of operations to undo or [Auto/Control/BEgin/End/Mark/Back] <1>: 9

Try this tip if you want any word or part of your text to stand out in a different color. With the mouse, select the Mtext you wish to modify, then type MTEDIT at the command line to open the text editor. Highlight the word or words you wish to change. Now select a color from the drop-down menu. The highlighted text is now colored. 

Note: This tip only works with MTEXT.

To access the Options Dialog Box quickly, go to the Command line, right-click the mouse and select 'Options'.

We usually use a Trim or Extend command when we need to line up lines against a specific boundary. Did you know that when the lines you need to Trim and/or Extend are vertical or horizontal, the CHANGE command is the easiest way to perform this task? All you need to do is to select those lines, turn the Ortho On, and then at the prompt "Specify change point or [Properties]:" select the point on the boundary against which you want to line up your lines.

Command: CHANGE
Select objects: Select the lines and press ENTER
Specify change point or [Properties]: Pick the point where you want the lines to line up

Note: (1) ORTHO must be turned on & (2) Lines should be either horizontal or vertical

Sometimes users get in a hurry or just aren't careful, and can accidentally drag and drop the command line area, losing it in the process. Carefully follow this Registry Edit procedure to get it back.

  • Shut down AutoCAD if it's running.
  • Click on Start, then choose Run.
  • Type REGEDIT and choose OK.
  • On the left pane, double click on "HKEY_CURRENT_USER".
  • Double click on "Software".
  • Double click on "Autodesk".
  • Double click on "AutoCAD".
  • Double click on "R15.0"
  • Double click on "ACAD-###:###".
  • Double click on "Fixed Profile".
  • Double click on "Command Line Windows".
  • On the right pane, double click on "Dock Window Position".
  • Several numbers should be highlighted, simply press "0".
  • Choose OK, then close the Registry Editor.
  • Restart AutoCAD, the command prompt should be back. 


If you have tried everything you can think of, to purge that annoying layer that just won't go away, try this:

(1) Take all of the entities from a different layer and CHANGE them to the layer that won't purge. 
(2) RENAME the layer you just moved the entities from to "PROBLEM" (example name only). 
(3) RENAME the non-purgeable layer to the name that was previously "PROBLEM". 
(4) Finally, purge "PROBLEM". This may sound silly, but it works.


Use this method to add translucent screens to AutoCAD drawings.
Because most of my drawing is 1 to 1 on either A-, B-, C- or D-size 
sheets, I do the following:

I use a dot pattern hatch with a scale of either 0.3 or 0.35. You get a different shade with different spacing and line width. People here seem to like the softer color of the dot pattern rather then the strong color from the solid hatch pattern. I like the dots because you can see everything clearly. I only concern myself with front/back position at plot time and then I put the dot pattern in the back for a shaper plot.

For a 1 to 1 drawing to be plotted at 1/4"=1'-0" use drawing unit 
48 x hatch scale 0.35 = new hatch scale 16.8.

The WBLOCK command is a quicker way of removing all unreferenced elements from your drawing. Simply start the WBLOCK command, choose entire drawing and fill in the rest of the information. Objects that have references in the drawing will not be removed when the drawing is Wblocked regardless of their status. In other words, any objects on frozen, off or locked layers will not be lost when the drawing is Wblocked.

When creating a new drawing, usually most of the information needed already exists and are taken from other drawings. With the addition of the Multiple Design Environment, you can now drag and drop objects from one drawing to another. 
Simply have the drawings that you need open and have it tiled horizontally, vertically or cascade. 
Select the objects that you want copied and grips will appear. Then hold down your right mouse button and drag the objects (make sure you do not select on a grip) into the other drawing. Once you release your right mouse button, AutoCAD offers you the following options. 
- Copy here option, which places the objects where you dropped the objects. These objects will not be converted into a block. 
- Paste as block option, which converts the objects into a block and placed where you dropped the objects. 
- Paste to original coordinates option, which places the objects at the same coordinates as the original drawing but not as a block. 
- Cancel option, which cancels the command.

Maximise the drawing area with CTRL+0 and then you can activate the Tool or Properties Palettes with CTRL+3 or CTRL+1. 

 You can close the Mtext dialog box by clicking anywhere outside the dialog box in the drawing area. Or you can hit CTRL+Enter.

 If you password protect a drawing make sure you have an original that is NOT password protected. You can disable the ability to password protect drawings when you make a network deployment.

 Have fun with MTJIGSTRING and set it in a startup lisp to the name of the user or anything else. Put (setvar "mtjigstring" (strcase (getvar "loginname"))) in you acad.lsp. It will show the first 10 characters.

 If you use the new functions for objects in 2004 and then save the drawing to an older format remember that tabs and indents will not show correct. True color and gradient hatches will not show correct either. 
You can use the DesignCenter feature to access content and quickly create tool palettes based upon block libraries. Create block tool palettes with one click based upon files or directories of files.

 The -PUBLISH and +PUBLISH commands help automate the publishing process. The -PUBLISH command and a presaved Drawing Set Description (DSD) file can run in a script, enabling publishing and plotting of large drawing sets without user interaction. The +PUBLISH command opens the Select List of Sheets dialog box enabling you to select a presaved DSD file. Selecting a DSD file automatically opens the Publish Drawing Set dialog box and prepopulates it with the list of drawing files.

 How to find a Color From a Color Book. Select all the text in the text field in the Select Color dialog box and the Color Books tab. Enter a color number and then press TAB.

 Want to edit attributes? You might use the properties palette where you easily can edit the attributes. TAB and SHIFT+TAB works well to move among multiple attributes.

 The number of minutes between checking for modified xrefs is controlled by the environment variable system variable xnotifytime. Use lisp to set it as follow (setenv "xnotifytime" "10").

 Migration tools are found here:

 If you have blocks on the Tool palettes and want to rotate them press R when it asks for the insertion point. You will then have the option to specify the rotation angle. You can actually type any standard insertion prompts [Scale/X/Y/Z/Rotate/PScale/PX/PY/PZ/PRotate] even though you don't see them. This only works if you click on the tool, not if you click + drag and drop it.

 Express Tools DBVIEW is removed but has been compiled for 2004 and can be requested directly from Explain your reason, how and why you will use it and he might send you a copy.

 There are some bugs that are related to having the Command line floating. If you have problems try to dock it and see if the bug goes away.

 You want to disable encryption. It's possible to remove with a custom installation where you have the option to remove file encryption.

 Using a window (or crossing) selection, you can continue your selection outside of the current view. When you pick the first point of your selection window, continue to hold down the left mouse button as you drag the cursor outside the display area or viewport.

AutoCAD 2000, 2000i and 2002 Tips
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