AutoCAD 2015 and AutoCAD LT 2015 BibleAutoCAD 2015 and AutoCAD LT 2015 Bible

The most comprehensive AutoCAD book around!

Track the time you spend on a drawing

autoacad-tips-time-commandWhether you need to bill your clients the time your work on a drawing or just want to know how efficient you are (maybe your boss wants to know), you can do it in AutoCAD. You do this with the TIME command, which automatically tracks the time you work on a drawing.

To use the TIME command, enter time on the command line.

You see the following listing:

  • Current time: Obviously, this shows the current time, but also includes the date
  • Created: The date and time  the drawing was created
  • Last updated: The time when the drawing was last saved
  • Total editing time: The accumulated ime spent in the drawing from session to session. AutoCAD does not include plotting time or time that you worked but quit without saving your changes
  • Elapsed timer: Also accumulated time spent in the drawing, but you can turn this on and off as well as reset it
  • Next automatic save in: Shows when your drawing will be automatically saved. Use the OPTIONS command and display the Open and Save tab to set how often you want to automatically save your drawing

Next is the Enter option [Display/ON/OFF/Reset]: prompt. Here’s what those options do:

  • Display: Updates the listing with current times
  • ON and OFF: Turns the elapsed time on and off
  • Reset:  Resets the elapsed time to zero

Using these options, you can keep track of the time you spend on a drawing.

Another option

The Express Tools EDITTIME command (type it on the command line) tracks active editing time. It can represent your actual work more accurately than the TIME command, but you need to start it to start tracking. You can reset the time and use the timeout option to suspend counting after a certain period of inactivity.

down-red-arrowsDo you track your drawing time? Share your tips and techniques by leaving a comment!

Customize how the multi-functional grip menu works

Multi-functional grips have been around since AutoCAD 2012 and they give you a menu of options when you hover over a grip or right-click a selected grip. Here you see the multi-functional grip menu for one of the vertices on a polyline.

By default, you can also repeatedly press the Ctrl key to cycle between the options on the menu. For example, in the figure you see here, if you select the grip that’s highlighted and press Ctrl twice, you’re up to the Remove Vertex option.  You see a prompt to pick to remove the vertex.


I find this Ctrl method pretty confusing. Since you don’t see the options, so you don’t really know which option you’re up to–you have to guess by the prompt. Also, the instruction that you can use Ctrl to cycle through the options appears so briefly when you select a grip, that you don’t have time to read it. Is that your experience?

Do you find this menu annoying?

If you hover your cursor over a grip, the menu pops up automatically. You can turn this off using the GRIPMULTIFUNCTIONAL system variable. The setting is saved in the Windows Registry, so it persists from drawing to drawing.

Here are the values:

0:  Multifunctional grip options are not available. This gets rid of the menu completely.
1:  You can access multifunctional grip options by pressing Ctrl repeatedly (Ctrl-cycling). This gets rid of the menu, but you can still press Ctrl repeatedly to cycle through the options. As I mentioned, I find this option hard to use.
2 You can access multifunctional grip options using the grip menu displayed when you hover over a grip. If you don’t use Ctrl cycling, this is essentially the same as option 3.
3 You can access multifunctional grip options with both Ctrl-cycling and the grip menu. This is the default.

Have you changed the GRIPMULTIFUNCTIONAL setting? Which one do you use? Leave a comment!


3D tutorial: Draw a fancy square glass bottle cap in AutoCAD

autocad-tips-tutorial-square-bottle-cap-5parvez-mahmoodThis is a guest blog post by Parvez Mahmood, General Manager, Engineering Systems/ER Solutions in Islamabad, Pakistan. He has been teaching AutoCAD for last 10 years to industrial and university students.

It’s a tutorial that will show you how to draw a fancy square glass bottle cap in AutoCAD. It’s a great tutorial to work through if you want to advance your 3D skills.

On the right, you can see what the final bottle cap will look like, with perhaps slight differences in proportion, depending on the values you use.


Set up your environment

  1. Select Workspace 3D Basic/3D Modelling
  2. Ortho ON.
  3. UCS WORLD. (To align the object with the grid).
  4. View PLAN in world UCS
  5. Visual style 2D WIREFRAME

autocad-tips-tutorial-square-bottle-cap-1Start drawing

  1. Command Pyramid. Let default/select CIRCUMSCRIBED. Enter Start Point as 10,10. Enter base Radius 5 and height 20.
  2. Zoom IN/OUT and PAN to see the pyramid in the centre of the drawing area. See the figure on the right.
  3. Command Sphere. OSNAP ON. Move the cursor over the centre of the diagonal lines of the pyramid. It will be highlighted with cursor read out as 3D Center or just Center. Acquire the point by clicking and enter R2.5. (See figure below). The sphere will be formed at the centre of the base of the pyramid.

Author’s Note: If the VisStyle is not 2D Wirerame, cursor will acquire tip of the pyramid as 3D Vertex. The sphere will now be formed at the top tip of the pyramid. You will now have to move the sphere, selecting its centre as base point, by 0, 0, -20.

Ellen’s Note: I just see Endpoint or Center (not 3D Center or 3D Vertex) and it’s on top, so I have to move it down. Here you see the result in Left view.


  1. Change view to bottom.
  2. autocad-tips-tutorial-square-bottle-cap-3Set UCS WORLD. (If you don’t, the extrusion of step 7 will be away from the pyramid causing the operation of step 8 to delete both the pyramid and the truncated cone.
  3. Command Circle. Move the cursor over the centre of the crossing diagonal lines of the pyramid. 3D Centre point will be highlighted as in step 3. Acquire the point by clicking. Enter Radius 3. (Ellen’s note: I just see Center, not 3D Centre/3D Center.)
  4. Extrude circle with a Taper of -30 and and extrusion of 10 to create a cylinder . A truncated cone will be created overlapping and surrounding the pyramid.  Here you see the result shown from the Left view.
  5. Perform Intersection of pyramid and cone. (Ellen’s note:  Cool!)
  6. 3D Orbit the view a bit to see the inverted cap with all vertical and bottom edges clearly. (After the 3DORBIT command, click somewhere in the centre and move the cursor south and then slightly to either left or right to get the view as in the figure below. Enter to come out of Rotate command.
  7. Fillet any two adjacent vertical sides and then the other two with radius 2.  (Ellen’s Note: Radius 1 worked for me. Also, I chose Selection panel, Filter, Edge.)
  8. Fillet any two adjacent bottom edges and then the other two with radius 2. (Try R 1 also). Note that these edges are now small segments This may be easier to do in Realistic view style.
  9. Union the parts.


Make final visual adjustments

  1. Change the Visual Style to realistic.
  2. Command Rotate3D. Select the cap. Enter. Choose X axis. Then asks for a point on the X axis. Then rotation. I accepted 0,0,0 and set rotation to 180.
  3. Select View TOP. The cap appears upright in the top view.

Here’s the final view again. (Ellen’s note: I think it’s beautiful!)


Create stylish leaders with a multileader style

autocad_tips_multileader-style-1If you use leaders, you should consider creating a style. Once you save the style, you can use it whenever you need a leader.

Here are the steps to create a multileader style:

  1. Go to Home tab, Annotation panel and click the down arrow to expand the panel.  Click the Multileader Style icon to open the Multileader Style Manager dialog box.


  1. Click the New button to open the small Create New Multileader Style dialog box. Type a new style name and choose an existing style to start with. You can choose to make the style annotative by clicking the Annotative checkbox. Click Continue. The Modify Multileader Style dialog box opens, showing the name of the style that you specified. This dialog box has 3 tabs.

Continue reading Create stylish leaders with a multileader style

What’s the best mouse for AutoCAD?

Do you ever want to know the best mouse for AutoCAD? I asked subscribers and readers like you and these 6 specific mice were the ones that were most recommended. They include programmable, 3D and compact mice. And a trackball. See what might work for you!


71SUe9nkS5L. SL1500

1. Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse

High-precision trackball features a comfortable thumb-controlled design that is ideal for extended right-handed or left-handed use. Large trackball improves control while reducing hand and wrist motion. Fingertip control allows fast, accurate cursor movement. Marble optical technology delivers smooth, ultra-precise tracking. Customize buttons with included MouseWare software. WebWheel software optimizes Web browsing. PC and Mac compatible Trackman Wheel includes a USB to PS/2 adapter.

51d-o8L-g9L. SL1500

2. 3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator Compact 3D Mouse

Compact and ultra-light, SpaceNavigator for Notebooks is the perfect travel companion for 3D designers and enthusiasts. Designed for mobile professionals and enthusiasts, the compact SpaceNavigator for Notebooks is only half the weight of its desktop counterpart. A small footprint makes it easy to use-even on airline trays-and a travel case makes transport effortless.


3. Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball

This hand-friendly wireless trackball lets you work and play wherever you want. No mouse to move around. No tricky keypad leaving your hand feeling cramped. Just roll the ball with your thumb and click.


4. Evoluent VerticalMouse 
A fellow AutoCAD user said, “I love my Evoluent Vertical Mouse (been using it for two or three years now). Much easier on the wrist than the conventional hand-over-the-top-of-the-mouse style. I use the corded one. I don’t install the software, just plug it in and use it normal like (so no conflicts with my other software).”
It comes in 3 sizes, wired or wireless, and is available for left- and right-handers.


819S6M-5cpL. SL1500

5. Logitech G602 Wireless Gaming Mouse with 250 Hour Battery Life
One newsletter subscriber likes that he’s allowed to program all the 11 mouse buttons with keys and macros.

415X5109JZL. SX425

6. Logitech MX500 Optical Mouse

From the Amazon product description: It’s the mouse you have to experience to believe! From here on in, you’ll control your computer with ultimate precision. With its powerful MX optical engine, the MX500 responds to even your fastest movements instantly. Wide choice of button assignments and control adjustments

Do you have a favorite mouse to use with AutoCAD? Leave a comment! If you can add an Amazon link, that will help others buy it from a reliable source.


Rename named objects–blocks, dimension styles, layers, and more

It really helps to have a naming system for named objects, including:

  • Blocks
  • Dimension styles
  • Text styles
  • Multileader styles
  • Table styles
  • Layers
  • Linetypes
  • UCSs (User Coordinate Systems)
  • Viewports (viewport configurations)
  • Viewsautocad-tips-rename-named-objects

But sometimes you need to change their names.Maybe you made a mistake or you’re working on a drawing created by someone else and you need to make your names consistent with your standards.

You do this with the RENAME command. Here are the steps:

  1. The command isn’t on the ribbon, so just type rename on the command line to open the RENAME dialog box.
  2. Click the type of named object that you want to rename from the list on the left.
  3. Select the object you want to rename on the right. It appears in the Old Name text box.
  4. Type the new name in the Rename To text box
  5. Click OK.

It’s really easy, right? But I think that many people don’t even know that the RENAME command exists–maybe because it isn’t on the ribbon.

3 small blue asterisks

Do you use the RENAME command? What type of situation has it helped you resolve?

Leave a comment!

Old AutoCAD drawings? It’s time to update them!

Do you have REALLY old AutoCAD drawings? Many people keep drawings for years and years. But some older settings may make editing difficult. Here are some ideas for updating your old drawings.

autocad-tips-old-drawings-update-1Blocks without previews or descriptions

In older versions of AutoCAD, blocks didn’t have previews, like the kind you now see in the DesignCenter or ContentExplorer. You can also use them in the Tools Palette.

You can use the BLOCKICON command and press Enter at the first prompt to automatically create preview icons of all the blocks in a drawing.

Also, you can navigate to the drawing in DesignCenter, click the Blocks item, and AutoCAD will automatically generate block previews.

Associative dimensions

Before AutoCAD 2002, dimensions weren’t associative. That means that they weren’t really connected to the objects they measured. Now, the DIMASSOC system variable is set at 2 by default, which creates associative dimensions. The dimension is all one object and if you edit the object it measured, the dimension automatically adjusts to the new measurement.

If you open an older drawing (or one that uses an older template), set DIMASSOC to 2 by typing dimassoc, pressing Enter, typing 2 and pressing Enter again. But that will only take care of new dimensions that you draw.

To attach existing dimensions to their objects, use the DIMREASSOCIATE command:

  1. Go to Annotate tab,  Dimensions panel (expanded), Reassociate.
  2. At the prompt, select the dimensions that you want to reassociate. You can use the Dissasociated option to select all dimensions that aren’t associated with an object.
  3. Follow the prompts, which vary according to the type of dimension. You’ll be specifying an association point on the measured object to connect it to the dimension. You’ll see an association point marked by an X.
  4. Continue to follow the prompts for each of the dimensions.

I have more specific instructions in my older post, “Dimensions and associativity.”

3 small blue asterisks

What settings do you suggest changing for older drawings? Leave a comment!

Edit block attribute properties with BATTMAN

autocad-tips-attributes-battman-2After you create a block with attributes and give the attributes specific values, you can edit block attribute properties with the Block Attribute Manager — the BATTMAN command. I explain how to create attributes (and why) in “Tutorial: Create attributes.” The attributes that you can edit are:

  • Tag  name, prompt name, default value
  • Prompt order
  • Visibility
  • Text style, justification, etc.
  • Properties such as layer, linetype, etc.

Note: To edit the value of an attribute (as opposed to its properties), see my tip, “Editing the value of a block attribute.”

To start BATTMAN, choose Home tab, Block panel (expanded), Attribute, Block Attribution Manager. This opens the Block Attribute Manager dialog box, as you see here.


The column names you see here are Tag, Prompt, Default, and Modes. You can stretch the dialog box by dragging on its right side to make it wider. You can also click the Settings button to change which columns you see.

From the Block drop-down list at the top, choose the block that you want or click the Select Block button. Here’s how to use the BATTMAN dialog box:

  • Tag name, prompt name, and default value: Select the row with the attribute that you want to edit and click the Edit button. The Edit Attribute dialog box opens. On the Attribute tab, use the Tag, Prompt, and Default textboxes to make the desired changes. Click OK to return to the BATTMAN dialog box.
  • Prompt order: The prompt order is determined by how you selected the attributes when you created the block. To change the block order, select one of the rows and click the Move Up or Move Down button as necessary.
  • Visibility: Select the row with the attribute that you want to edit and click the Edit button. The Edit Attribute dialog box opens. Check or uncheck the Invisible checkbox and click OK.
  • Text style, justification, etc.: Select the row with the attribute that you want to edit and click the Edit button. The Edit Attribute dialog box opens. Click the Text Options tab and use the settings to change the text style and other text options. Click OK.
  • Properties such as layer, linetype, etc. Select the row with the attribute that you want to edit and click the Edit button. The Edit Attribute dialog box opens. Click the Properties tab and use the settings to change the layer, linetype, color, and other properties. Click OK.

When you make changes, existing blocks are immediately updated.

When you’re done, click OK to close the BATTMAN dialog box.

Tested in AutoCAD 2015.

Do you have any questions or tips for using BATTMAN? Leave a comment!

Slim down your drawings with the PURGE command

Are your drawings bloated for no obvious reason? When you insert a block, is there a long list of blocks that aren’t in the drawing? Ditto for layers?

Then you need the PURGE command!

Yes, you want slim drawings

Definitions of blocks, layers, styles, and more that aren’t actually used in the drawing make it slow and cumbersome. The PURGE command finds named components that aren’t used and lets you delete them. In a complicated drawing, there can be dozens or even hundreds of unused layers, blocks, text styles, dimension styles, and more.

To start the PURGE command, choose Application Button, Drawing Utilities, Purge or just type purge on the command line. The Purge dialog box opens. Components that have unused items have a plus sign next to them. In this figure, you can see that there are unused blocks, dimension styles, layers, and linetypes. You can expand these items to see what you can purge.


Specify PURGE settings

If you’re feeling sure of yourself, you can uncheck the Confirm Each Item to Be Purged checkbox to make the process quicker. You may also want to purge nested items, such as blocks within blocks.

The PURGE command has a feature that helps you figure out why you can’t purge an item. Select the View Items You Cannot Purge option. Then select an item. Below the list of items, you’ll see an explanation. For example, “This layer cannot be purged because it is the current layer.”

You can also use the PURGE command to get rid of zero-length lines and empty text objects, as well as “orphaned data,” which refers to obsolete DGN linestyle data. Use the checkboxes at the bottom for those tasks.

You can select any component and click the Purge button or click Purge All to purge every unused component.

When you’re done, click Close.

Just to make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished, you might want to check the size of your drawing before and after a major purge. Has the PURGE command been useful for you? Leave a comment and share your experience!

Editing the value of a block attribute

When you create and insert a block with attributes, you provide values for each of the attributes. But if you made a mistake or the value changes, you need to edit the attribute’s value. You use the EATTEDIT command for editing the value of a block attribute. Here are the steps:

  1. autocad-tips-edit-attribute-values-1Choose Insert, Block panel, Edit Attribute,  Single.
  2. At the Select a block: prompt, select the block with the attribute values that you need to change. The Enhanced Attribute Editor dialog box opens.


  1. Click the attribute whose value you want to change.
  2. Depending on your version of AutoCAD, either select the value in the Value text box and type a new value or click the Open Multiline Editor button at the right to edit the value in your drawing and click OK in the Text Formatting toolbar.
  3. Click OK to close the dialog box.

Do you have any tips for editing attributes? Leave a comment!