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Use all of your selection options

We select objects all of the time, but most of us stick with a small number of familiar ways to select objects, and forget the rest. Perhaps it’s worthwhile to review all of the ways to select objects and learn some selection tips at the same time.

When you start an editing command, such as MOVE, you see the Select objects: prompt on the command line. But AutoCAD doesn’t show you any of your options.

Tip #1: At the Select objects: prompt, enter any nonsense, such as xx and press Enter to get this prompt:

Expects a point or
Multiple /Previous/Undo/AUto/SIngle/SUbobject/Object

Now you can see all of your selection options! (Thanks to Leonid Nemirovsky for this tip.)

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Here are the options, their shortcut, and how they work:

Selection Option Keyboard Shortcut Use
Window W Pick 2 diagonal corners. Everything completely inside the window is selected.*
Last L Selects that last object you drew in the current space (model or paper) whose layer isn’t off or frozen.
Crossing C Pick 2 diagonal corners. Everything completely or partially inside the window is selected.*
BOX BOX Combines Window and Crossing: If you pick the corners from left to right, you get the Window option; if you pick from right to left, you get the Crossing option. This is the default for Implied Windowing.
ALL ALL Selects all objects on layers that are thawed andunlocked.
Fence F Pick a series of points to define temporary line segments and select any object that crosses the lines.
WPolygon WP Like Window, but you pick more than 2 points, defining a polygon. Selects everything completely within the polygon.
CPolygon CP Like Crossing, but you pick more than 2 points, defining a polygon. Selects everything completely or partially within the polygon.
Group G Selects a named group of objects that you define with the GROUP command.
Add A Sets the selection mode to add objects to the selection set. This is the default; you’d use this after using the Remove option.**
Remove R Sets the selection mode to remove objects from the selection set. After using this option, any object that you specify is deselected.***
Multiple M Turns off highlighting as you select objects; you can’t preview which objects are in the selection set. (This old option had value when computers were slower than they are today and highlighting took time.)
Previous P Selects all objecst that you selected for the previous command’s Select objects: prompt.
Undo U Deselects objects select at the last Select objects: prompt.
AUto AU Combines picking objects with the BOX option. This is the default in implied windowing.
SIngle SI Ends the selection process after one selection process, without you pressing Enter.
SUbobject SU Selects vertices, edges, and faces of 3D objects.
Object O Ends subobject selection.

You may sometimes see a CLass option, which lets you select objects created in another application, such as Autodesk Map, that can add a classification to an object. You can then select objects by their classification property.

Implied windowing is active by default and is equivalent to the AUto option, which includes picking objects (clicking them directly) and the BOX option.

*Tip #2: While specifying a window or a crossing window, you can drag past the edge of the viewport (or screen if you have only 1 viewport displayed). AutoCAD pans the display to that you can see objects that were previously not visible. You can then specify the second corner of the window.

**Tip#3: You can press Ctrl+A to select all objects, but this cancels the command. You could then repeat the command and use the Previous option.

***Tip#4: Instead of using the Remove option, you can press Shift and use implied windowing to specify the objects to remove.

Tip#5: If you have many objects close together, at the Select objects: prompt, place the cursor over the area where objects overlap. Then press and hold the Shift key and press the Spacebar. Continue to press the Spacebar (with the Shift key down) to highlight one object after another, until you have the one you want. Then you can pick it.

You can turn off layers to make objects easier to select. For example, you might want to select only text; this will be easier if you turn off all other layers. The LAYISO command makes this easy. Start the command. At the prompt, use the Settings option and choose the Off suboption. Then select objects on layers that you don’t want to turn them off.

Another method to facilitate selection by layers is to create a layer filter to display only the objects on the layers that you need to select.

The QSELECT command and the FILTER command are other ways to filter objects according to their properties and select them.

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