You should always start a new drawing either from an existing drawing (Application Button, Save As) or from a template.
What is a template?
A template is just like a drawing, but when you start a drawing from a template, the template creates a clone of itself, remaining unchanged. Many people have multiple templates that they use. For example, it’s common to have a template for each sheet size.
Templates commonly include a title block on a layout tab with all the labeled boxes required by an organization’s drawings.
Any setting that is saved in a drawing can be saved in a template. Some settings are saved in the Windows registry and can’t be saved in a template; these settings persist from drawing to drawing.
How do you know where a setting is saved? AutoCAD’s Help used to contain this information, but no longer. Now, you can go to an Express Tool called System Variable Editor. You can get there by going to Express Tools tab, Tools panel, System Variable Editor. You can also type SYSVDLG. (Thanks to this point on another AutoCAD Tips blog for this useful information.)
The System Variables dialog box opens. On the left, click any item, type the 1st letter of the system variable you’re interested in, and then scroll to find the exact system variable you want. Then look in the Saved In text box to find where the system variable is saved.
But this list of system variables may not tell you everything. For example, I couldn’t find one for the UNITS command settings. Help also used to provide a list of system variables related to commands, but no longer.
How to create a custom template
If you have a drawing with settings that you want to save, use that. Erase any drawing objects that you want. Don’t forget to check the Layout tabs for unwanted objects, such as viewports.
It’s a good idea to check the most common settings to make sure they are what you want. Here are some ideas:
- The UNITS command sets the measurement type and precision.
- The DSETTINGS command controls snap and grid, polar tracking, object snap, 3D object snap, dynamic input, quick properties (the small palette), and selection cycling.
- The LAYER command which creates layers and defines their properties. You want your templates to already contain all of the layers that you will need when you draw.
- The LTSCALE command, which sets the linetype scale factor.
- The DIMSTYLE command, which creates dimensions. Your templates should contain all of the dimension styles that you will need when you draw.
- The STYLE command, which creates text styles. Likewise, you want your text styles to be ready for you in your drawings.
- The LAYOUT command which sets paper space viewports and scales
- The PAGESETUP command which specifies settings for plotting and publishing
When you’re done, save your drawing and choose Application button, hover over the Save As item. and choose AutoCAD Drawing Template. AutoCAD opens the Save Drawing As dialog box, with the folder automatically set to your Template folder and the file type set to AutoCAD Drawing Template (*.dwt).
In the File Name text box, type a name for your template and click Save.
The Template Options dialog box opens. Type a description and click OK.
How to edit a template
To edit a template, just open it like you open a regular drawing, make the changes and save it again. But sometimes, it’s hard to find those templates, lost in the labyrinth of Window’s folders.
To find where your templates are stored, start the OPTIONS command and click the Files tab. Expand the Template Settings item, then expand the Drawing Template File Location item, as you see here.
How to use a template
To use a template, choose Application button, New. In the Select Template dialog box, choose the template you want and click Open or just double-click the template.
What are your favorite template settings? Leave a comment!
Recently, a reader of my book, AutoCAD 2013 Bible, was reading something I wrote about the ribbon. He undocked it. (You can do that by right-clicking at the very end, in the blank gray space and choosing Undock.) Then, he clicked the X on the ribbon, which closed it. (Of course, I never recommended doing that.) Uh-oh! He finally guessed that he could type ribbon on the command line, but he was angry at me for not explaining how to get it back.
So I thought I would provide some information about how to fix problems that occur when you inadvertently mess up how AutoCAD’s user interface looks.
Fix the ribbon
Type ribbon on the command line to display the ribbon. The RIBBONCLOSE command closes the ribbon.
If the ribbon gets undocked, drag it upwards until it snaps into place.
You can collapse the ribbon so that it doesn’t take up as much space. Click the down arrow at the right end of the ribbon tab names and choose one of the options: Minimize to Tabs, Minimize to Panel Titles, or Minimize to Panel Buttons. Try them out and see which option works best for you.
Fix the command line
Similarly, you can type commandline to display the command line window. You can type commandlinehide to hide it.
Display and hide the menu bar
By default, the menu bar is not displayed. But you can use the MENUBAR system variable to show or hide it. Set this system variable’s value to 0 to hide it and to 1 to display it.
What else affects the user interface?
There are many more commands and system variables that affect the user interface. To find them all, press F1 in AutoCAD to open the Help window. In the Search box, type Commands for Working With the Application Window.
What fixes do you use? Leave a comment!
Is this what you see when you start AutoCAD? If so, you’re not alone because it’s the default setup.
But you hate it, don’t you?
Here’s how to get rid of the Welcome window and the grid. Continue reading How to get rid of the Welcome window and grid when you start AutoCAD
We all make mistakes, so we all need to undo tasks in AutoCAD. Here’s a list of ways to undo actions. Please leave a comment to add to this list.
The UNDO command
Everyone knows about the UNDO and U commands. Let’s start with the U command. It undoes your last command (if possible–you can’t undo certain actions such as saving and printing). You can also find it on the Quick Access toolbar. Finally, you can do what most people do — press Ctrl+Z.
But many people don’t know about UNDO’s options. Continue reading How to undo almost anything in AutoCAD
This is a guest post by Will Forty, who runs www.HowToAutoCAD.com. I recommend that you visit Will’s website and sign up for his newsletter to get blog posts like this.
Probably my favourite entity in AutoCAD is the polyline. However, there have been a few things in the past that I’ve found somewhat annoying, one of which is controlling the direction of polylines.
Normally the direction of polylines makes little difference, but for some purposes it can be important. For example, linetype text is oriented in line with the direction of the line segment, so if the polyline flows from right to left, as opposed to from left to right, the text will appear upside-down.
Reversing the vertices in a polyline has historically been quite cumbersome to achieve, but as of AutoCAD 2010, there is now a REVERSE command. Simply enter the REVERSE command by either typing it, or selecting it from the Home ribbon, and select the polyline you want to reverse.
This command can also be used on a few other entities, namely LINE, SPLINE and HELIX entities.
Remember to check out HowToAutoCAD.com!
Have you ever done a ZOOM Extents and found objects way out there like stars in outer space? Or tried to delete a layer but found you couldn’t because there was an object on it — but you couldn’t find it?
When troubleshooting objects, you might find it useful to have a list of them all. You can get that with DBLIST. Just type the command on the command line and press Enter whenever it pauses. Of course, in a busy drawing, that could take a while. And the list gets long even in a small drawing, because AutoCAD tells you everything about each object, like the LIST command does for selected objects. Below is the list for a drawing with only 5 objects!
Perhaps a better way to use it is to erase everything you can find and then run DBLIST. That way, you can see what is still left. You can then undo the ERASE command. (Luckily, undoing the DBLIST command, which came after, won’t delete your list!)
How do you troubleshoot wayward objects?
CIRCLE Layer: “0″
Space: Model space
Handle = 1c4
center point, X= 8.8432 Y= 9.7202 Z= 0.0000
LWPOLYLINE Layer: “Layer1″
Space: Model space
Handle = 1c8
Constant width 0.0000
at point X= 21.1067 Y= 10.7852 Z= 0.0000
at point X= 26.4006 Y= 10.7852 Z= 0.0000
at point X= 26.4006 Y= 6.9436 Z= 0.0000
at point X= 21.1067 Y= 6.9436 Z= 0.0000
Press ENTER to continue:
CIRCLE Layer: “Layer1″
Space: Model space
Handle = 1c9
center point, X= 15.0511 Y= 14.9691 Z= 0.0000
LINE Layer: “0″
Space: Model space
Handle = 1ca
from point, X= 17.5267 Y= 7.1338 Z= 0.0000
to point, X= 30.2472 Y= 12.8391 Z= 0.0000
Length = 13.9414, Angle in XY Plane = 24
Delta X = 12.7205, Delta Y = 5.7054, Delta Z = 0.0000
LINE Layer: “0″
Space: Model space
Handle = 1cb
from point, X= 30.2472 Y= 12.8391 Z= 0.0000
to point, X= 33.5226 Y= 7.9706 Z= 0.0000
Length = 5.8678, Angle in XY Plane = 304
Press ENTER to continue:
Delta X = 3.2753, Delta Y = -4.8686, Delta Z = 0.0000
Sometimes you need to hide your dirty laundry. The WIPEOUT command lets you do just that. You can create a polygonal outline that is filled with the drawing area’s background color. Everything behind the wipeout is covered up.
You might cover up part of your drawing that represents unapproved designs, confidential data, or anything else.
You can find the command on the Home tab in the expanded Draw panel. It’s also on the Annotate tab in the Markup panel. Here are the prompts:
Specify first point or [Frames/Polyline] <Polyline>:
Specify next point:
Specify next point or [Undo]:
Specify next point or [Close/Undo]:
If you specify a point, you are prompted for more points so that you can create a custom shape, as you see here.
Here is the result when you press Enter to end the command.
If you have a polyline surrounding the area you want to cover up, you can choose the Polyline option. Then you see the following prompts:
Select a closed polyline:
Erase polyline? [Yes/No] <No>:
Use the Erase polyline? prompt to specify whether or not to keep the original polyline.
At the first prompt, there’s a Frames option. The frame is the border that you see surrounding the wipeout. When you choose this option, you have 3 subuptions:
- Display but not plot
When you turn off frames, the wipeout seems to disappear, especially if no objects are partially covered by the wipeout, because it matches the drawing area background.
How do you use wipeouts?
Just the very name DDEDIT brings back old memories! Once upon a time, DD was used to indicate that the command opened a dialog box. Now, it seems that there are only 3 left — DDEDIT, DDVPOINT, and DDPTYPE — listed in the alphabetical list of command in AutoCAD’s Help.
But there is no long a dialog box for DDEDIT. (The other two commands do open a dialog box.)
Editing single-line text
When you create single-line text (DTEXT) and double-click it, you can edit it in place, meaning you can simply type your correction. Nevertheless, AutoCAD starts the DDEDIT command. When you press Enter, you see the Select an annotation object or [Undo]: prompt. DDEDIT continues to prompt you to select another annotation object to edit (it doesn’t have to be DTEXT), making it easy to edit a number of text objects at once.
If you want, you can start the DDTEXT command first, but why do that? In fact, I couldn’t find the command on the ribbon at all! You can select the text, right-click in the Drawing area and choose edit, but that’s very roundabout.
Editing multi-line text (Mtext)
On the other hand, when you double-click Mtext (multi-line text), AutoCAD starts the MTEDIT command. As with the DDEDIT command, you do your editing in place. When you’re done, click outside the editor to end the command. There’s no prompt to edit another text object. So, the question arises, can you use DDEDIT on Mtext if you want to edit several Mtext objects in a row?
The answer is yes. Type DDEDIT on the command line. At the prompt, select your first Mtext object and edit it. Click outside the editor to end editing. DDEDIT repeats the prompt so that you can select another object.
DDEDIT is especially good when you want to edit both DTEXT and Mtext objects in one pass.
Do you use DDEDIT? Leave a comment!
You can exactly specify the spacing between lines of Mtext. Here’s the procedure:
- Select the Mtext object.
- Select the text by dragging across it.
- On the Text Editor tab, in the Paragraph panel, choose Line Spacing> More to open the Paragraph dialog box.
- Check the Paragraph Line Spacing check box.
- From the Line Spacing drop-down list, choose Exactly.
- In the At textbox, enter a value.
- Click OK.
How do you change line spacing? Do you use the Properties palette? Some other method?
An excellent (and old) feature of AutoCAD is that you can define your own coordinate system:
- The location of 0,0
- The direction of the X axis
- The direction of the Y axis
A custom UCS is a common aid for 3D drawing. For example, if you’re drawing a peaked roof of a house, it’s much easier to draw when you align the X and Y axes with the angle of the roof and set 0,0 to one corner of the roof. However, you can also create a custom UCS in a 2D drawing to rotate the axes and make drawing at an angle easier.
Starting in AutoCAD 2012, you can move and rotate the UCS by dragging it:
- To move the origin, select the UCS, click the origin (the square handle), and click at the new location
- To rotate the X and Y axes, select the UCS, click one of the axis handles (circular handles) and click at the new location.
Otherwise, you use the UCS command. You can find it in the 3D Modeling workspace on the View tab, in the Coordinates panel. The UCS command has lots of options and there are buttons for all of them:
- World: The default UCS, with a horizontal X axis, vertical Y axis and origin at the default 0,0 point
- Origin: Sets a new 0,0 point without changing the direction of the axes
- View: Aligns the axes with the current view and arbitrarily sets the origin
- X: Rotates the Y and Z axes around the current X axis.
- Y: Rotates the X and Z axes around the current Y axis.
- Z: Rotates the X and Y axes around the current Z axis. This is used in 2D drawings.
- Object: Aligns the UCS with an object.
- Z-Axis Vector: Specifies which way the Z axis points.
- Face: Aligns the UCS with the face of a 3D solid
- 3-Point: Lets you specify the origin, then the positive direction of the X axis and finally the positive direction of the Y axis. I used this option to set the UCS shown in the above figure of the roof.
If you start the UCS command, you see the following prompt:
Specify origin of UCS or [Face/NAmed/OBject/Previous/View/World/X/Y/Z/ZAxis] <World>:
If you choose the NAmed option, you see the following prompt:
Enter an option [Restore/Save/Delete/?]:
You can use these options to save, restore, delete and list custom UCSs.
I recommend liberally saving custom UCSs. If you use it once, you’ll probably need to use it again!
Do you have any tips on creating and using UCSs? Leave a comment!