AutoCAD: Open Multiple drawings at once

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Quick tip(s): Open Multiple drawings at once:

Add commands/features to the Quick Access Toolbar quickly:

Open multiple drawings within the same directory at the same time:

Start the Open command:

Path yourself out to the needed directory, Select the DWG files you want to open.

  1. When the files are in a consecutive order select one DWG file, hold down the SHIFT key then select the last file in the group to be selected. All files selected will highlight select Open.
  2.  When the files are not in a consecutive order hold down the CTRL key and select all files individually. The selected files will highlight then select Open.

All of the selected drawings will open in their own file tab.

Open 2Open 1

Add almost any AutoCAD command located in the Ribbon quickly to the Quick Access Toolbar with a Right Click of the mouse.
*This is a great option for highly used commands / features which will help save you time.

In this example the Layer Drop down will be added to the Quick Access Toolbar.

Locate the Layer Panel in the Draw tab
Right Click over the Layer Drop down list, this opens a pop up window
select the option – Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
This automatically places the feature into the Quick Access Toolbar.

Layer 3Layer 4

AutoCAD: LASSO a NEW Selection option offered in AutoCAD 2015

Written by Cindra Drowne-Walsh

AutoCAD offers many ways to select geometry (Selection Sets) the latest selection option added offers quick selection using just the mouse. Whether you are at a Select Object prompt or are pre-selecting geometry on the screen this option is available. See a previous Blog titled “Select items on the screen, Let us count the ways,” for additional selection sets options.

Lasso: How this works:

When the program prompts you to Select objects or if you are pre-selecting items this feature is available.

With the mouse Pick (select) a point on the screen, DO NOT take your finger off of the pick button of the mouse, move the mouse through and around the items you want included in the selection. This creates an irregular shaped selection area.

Lasso selection features:

Window Lasso: Select a point on the screen move the mouse to the RIGHT of that

selection, this creates an irregular shaped area dawn around the geometry intended for the selection. The visual results on the screen is a solid outer line with the interior of the shape blue in color. This selection responds like the Implied Window selection, everything completely contained inside the solid lines will be selected. 

Fence Lasso: This option becomes available when a Lasso selection is active on the

screen and the mouse button is still held, select the Spacebar. By selecting the Spacebar it cycles you through the Window, Fence and Crossing Selection features without reselecting the geometry. The Spacebar turn the outer line into a Fence, all the geometry that the line touches is selected.

When cycling though the options and the one you want is visible on the screen let go of the mouse button the selection stays current and allow you to continue.

Crossing Lasso: Select a point on the screen move the mouse to the LEFT of that

selection. This creates an irregular shaped area drawn around the intended geometry. The visual results on the screen is a dashed outer line with the interior of the shape green in color. This selection responds like a Crossing Window or Crossing Polygon selection, everything completely contained inside and everything the dashed lines touch will be selected.

Window Lasso 1Crossing Lasso 2
In this video: While using the Lasso selection feature and the mouse button is still selected, select the Spacebar to cycle through the Window, Fence and Crossing options.

*Watch the Command line it shows the prompts to cycle through the selection options by selecting the Spacebar.

*The Geometry Highlights to represent what is being selected.

AutoCAD: Working between drawing files

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

While working from one drawing to another you may want to reuse geometry from one drawing to another. Here I will cover a few ways that you can quickly transfer / copy geometry from between drawings.

(Reference to Geometry = anything placed in the drawing, Blocks, Annotation, data placed in with the Draw and Insert commands…..)

Preliminary steps to take to set up the drawings to easily work between them.

Step One:

Set up the drawings you are working between be visible on the screen. My preference is to Tile the drawings Vertically. There is also the options to Tile Horizontally or to Cascade them.

View tab

Interface Panel

Tile Vertically

Step Two:

Orientate your drawings so you are working in the area of the geometry you wish to work with from one drawing to the other drawing area you are placing the items into.

*Only one drawing can be active at a time. The Title area of the drawing is highlighted to represent the active drawing. To make a drawing active Click in the drawing area or select the Title area of the drawing.

Tile Vertically 1

The drawings are ready to work between:

1st Option: Pick, Hold, Drag and let go…

1. Make sure the drawing you are copying the data from is Active.
2. Select all of the geometry that is to brought into the other drawing, (no command active)
a. With the Pick box select somewhere on any of that geometry avoiding all grips.
b. Drag the geometry into the other drawing and place it in the drawing by letting go of the mouse button.
*This option allows a quick copy to be brought into the drawing with no option for an exact point of placement.

2nd Option: Clipboard: This is a Windows feature not an AutoCAD command.

1. Make sure the drawing you are copying the data from is Active.
2. Select all of the geometry that is to brought into the other drawing, (no command active)
3. Right –Click the mouse to bring up the Pop up window. Select Clipboard.
Here you have four options:

Cut: this option Deletes the selected data and places it onto the Clipboard. Make
the other drawing active, Right –Click then choose how you want to place in the geometry, Paste, Paste as a Block, Paste to original Coordinates.

Copy: this option makes a Copy of the selected data and places it onto the Clipboard
(When selecting data created in other applications this is a better option to use.) Make the other drawing active, Right –Click then choose how you want to place in the geometry, Paste, Paste as a Block, Paste to original Coordinates.

Copy with Base Point: this option makes a Copy of the selected data and places it onto
the Clipboard, but prompts you to select a new Base Point – select a Base Point. (also known as a Handle). This Base Point is where your crosshairs will be attached to the data when you place it into the other drawing. Make the other drawing active, Right –Click then choose how you want to place in the geometry, Paste, Paste as a Block, Paste to Original Coordinates.

Paste: Prompts you for an Insertion Point. (as the Insert Command) Select a location
to place the data. Brings in a copy of the copied data.

Paste as a Block: Same as Paste but groups the data together as a Block and AutoCAD
defines the name of the block.

Paste to Original Coordinates: Right-Click select this option and the data placed onto
the Clipboard is now copied onto the drawing in the Original Coordinates that it originated from.

Clipboard 2
Clipboard 1
3rd Option: Typing options

CTRL+C: Select the geometry to copy, from the keyboard select CTRL then C button. This
places the selected data to the Clipboard.

CTRL+V: Brings in the copied data from the Clipboard and prompts for an Insertion point.

*Keep in mind these options will also work within the same drawing. While working within the same drawing using AutoCAD commands (copy) and options usually offer faster results.

*If the information you want to recall into a new drawing is saved as a block in your block library, another approach would be to use the INSERT command to insert it into your drawing.

AutoCAD: A New Start Up screen to AutoCAD 2015

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

The Start Up screen is connected to all New Tabs and offers two options, the LEARN and CREATE screen. This feature replaces the Welcome window in previous releases.

Here is the breakdown of the NEW TAB pages.

CREATE page you will find:

  1. Getting Started: Where you open or start drawings.
    • Start drawing: (blue box) this opens a new drawing using the ACAD.DWT template.
    • Template: drop down arrow, this displays AutoCAD’s predefined templates, and also allows the creation of a new Sheet Set.
    • Open Files…: access to existing Drawing files.
    • Open a Sheet Sheet…: access to existing Sheet Sets.
    • Get More Templates On Line: Brings you to AUTODESK Knowledge Network web site right to the Download tab for many template files.
    • Explore Sample Drawings: This brings you into the Sample directory that is installed when AutoCAD is installed.
  2.  Recent Documents: quick access to the latest documents used. These DWG files can be pinned.
  3. Connect:Autodesk 360 and Feedback
    • Autodesk 360: In short this is AutoCAD’s Cloud storage option – you must register before you are able to access this option.
    • Feedback: Brings you right into AUTODESK’s Contact Us page where you can leave feedback/comment of your AutoCAD experience. They are looking for an email address, Country, Product, Product Release Number and then your Comments. In hopes to improve their products.

CREATE page:

Create Screen 1
LEARN page you will find:

  1. What’s New: A video that shows an overview of new key features.
  2.  Getting started: Videos explaining the new User Interface, Creating and Modifying Objects.
  3.  Feature Video: Videos covering new features.
  4. Tip: Brings you out to the AUTODESK COMMUNITY web site that offers 20 to 40 minute interactive webinars if you subscribe, if you don’t subscribe you can preview past webinars along with the Q&A from those webinars.
  5. Online Resources: There are three areas to choose from which all offer online information of AutoCAD topics.
    • Hitchhicker’s – AutoCAD basic information
    • AUTODESK – Brings you to the Knowledge Network that offers SUPPORT, LEARNING, and online COMMUNITY.
    • – additional tutorials / 30 day free trial

LEARN page:

Learn screen 2
* When in an open drawing and you want to access the CREATE page select a new drawing Tab at the top of the drawing window. This opens up the CREATE page.

AutoCAD: A new look for 2015, AutoCAD 2015 that is

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Darker Theme:

When AutoCAD 2015 first opens you will notice it visually has a darker theme. The Drawing and Ribbon (interface) area now offer less of a contrast to each other and blend into one another. 

This is how AutoCAD 2015 looks with an initial install /no modifications. Dark theme.

Darker theme 1

Some people are willing to accept change others are not. For those who are not so open to change AutoCAD never takes away features and or options (they may nest them away and make it hard to locate) so the user can usually access previous features or preference.

The Darker theme can be changed to a Light theme. Here’s how.

  1. Open the Options dialog box:
  2. Where to access the Options dialog box
    1. Found at the bottom of the Application menu:
    2. Right –Clicking in the drawing area and it is found at the bottom of the pop up menu.
  1. Select the Display Tab
  2. Color Scheme found right below the section Window Elements.
    1. This is a drop down with two options Dark or Light. Select your options select Apply at the bottom of the dialog box and the change happens instantly.
    2. Select OK to close the dialog box.

Darker theme 2

Light Theme:

AutoCAD 2015 with the theme changed to the Light option. Notice the Ribbon and Status Bar areas are lighter.

Darker theme 3

This feature is all about preference: the concept with the new Dark theme is to add continuity and may help reduce eye strain.

AutoCAD: Delete Duplicate Objects also known as the Overkill command

Need help cleaning up a drawing? Sometimes extra geometry can sabotage your drawing efforts by slowing you down or in the case of overlapping geometry you may snap to an incorrect point unknowingly. Now measurements may be off. 

The command Delete Duplicate Objects removes duplicate or overlapping geometry. This command responds to Lines, Arcs and Polylines and will combine partially overlapping or contagious geometry.

Where to access this command:

In the Home tab, Modify drop down panel, Overkill 1

Or at the Command line type in OVERKILL. (Not case sensitive.)

Overkill 2

Options once in the command:
Overkill 3
In the video the duplicate lines and arcs are on Layer 1 “color Magenta” as to stand out a bit to be screen. The option Layer in the Ignore object property: must be selected in order for the geometry to be located. The selection of those options will vary depending on the geometry and how it was placed into the drawing.

*At the Select Objects prompt: using the default Crossing Window option helps ensure that everything that is touching or encompassed within that window will be selected.

AutoCAD: Attributed Blocks keeping order

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Creating a block with multiple Attributes and making sure you are prompted in the order you want to be prompted in, may take time upfront when creating the block but in the long run will save you and your company time which in turn is a money saver. 

*Attributes are a huge time saver and helps keep consistency within the drawings. I refer to Attributes as intelligent text. Attributes are text that is associated to a block definition and can be modified as needed.

Here we will discuss the steps to make sure the prompts for the Attributed Blocks are in the order the creator wants them to be. 

The key to this is when creating the block to select the Attributes in the order you want to be prompted. This prompt sequence shows up in the Command line, with in the Attribute Editor dialog box, when you insert the Attributed Block or edit the Block at a later time.


Step one: Draw the geometry (if applicable) of the item to be blocked.

          Step two: Add the Attributes that are needed. (ATTDEF   1 Attdef Located in the Home Tab / Block Panel drop down) needed.

Step Three: Create the Block – First select all geometry and non-Attribute information. Second using the Pick Selection option select the Attributes One at a time in the order you want them to list.

Step Four: Test the Attributed Block out and make any corrections if needed.

Step 1 and 2:

The geometry is created and the Attributes are defined as the X. This is the TAG section that must be filled in when creating an Attribute.

The X was my choice in hopes that it would stand out for this image.

2 Attributes placed ready to be blocked

Step 3:

Using either the Block or WBlock Command create the block definition. Keep in mind (select all geometry and data first then, while still in the command select the Attributes one at a time in the order you want the prompts to go.

Step 4:

Checking the Block to make sure the Attributes are where they are needed and to make sure the prompt sequence is correct.

Here displays the Attributes defined per the company’s and drawings information.

3 Block with Attributes filled in

This Block contains 14 Attributes:

ATTDIA: is a system variable with the toggle of 0 or 1. When set to 0 the Attribute prompt will display at the Command Line, when set to 1 this opens up the Attribute Editor dialog box when a Block containing Attributes is inserted. To get the second page to display select Next. (See example below) 

This shows the Attribute prompt set up for the above block. The left side is the prompt the user added when defining the Attributes, the right side is the information added once the drawing is created.

4 Attribute Editor5 Attribute Editor

* Always save your Block(s) / WBlock(s) in a directory that everyone has access to. This is a time save – others won’t have to duplicate what has already been completed and will keep consistent within the companies drawings. 

Attributes can be defined by themselves or with geometry, the key to success is they must be selected within a Block / WBlock to function.

AutoCAD: How the Ribbon displays

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Has your Ribbon display accidentally changed or worst disappeared?

The Ribbon can display as one of four different ways and also can be turned off.

  1. Minimize to Tabs: Only Tab Titles are displayed.
  2. Minimize to Panel Titles: Only Tab and Panel Titles are displayed.
  3. Minimize to Panel Buttons: Only Tab Titles and Panel Buttons are displayed.
  4. Show Full Ribbon: All Tab Titles, Panels and Buttons display.

Ribbon 1Ribbon 2Ribbon 3Ribbon 4

To quickly cycle through the Ribbon display options select the small rectangular button with a black arrow in it, located at the end of the Ribbon Tabs. This automatically cycles through the Ribbons when selected.

Ribbon 5

To select these options from a drop down list select the drop down arrow at the end of the Ribbon Tabs.

Ribbon 6

Cycle Through All: Cycles through the all four ribbon displays.

*To Display or not to Display the Ribbon:

From the Command Line: type in (not case sensitive) RIBBONCLOSE and Enter. This is automatic, and the Ribbon is turned off.

Turn the Ribbon back on type in RIBBON and Enter. The Ribbon automatically appears.

From the Ribbon: Right click in a blank area on the Ribbon just past the Tabs. A pop up window appears with the option to Close. Select and the Ribbon turns off.

*The Ribbon by default is located at the top of the screen just below the Title Bar. The user can undock the Ribbon and relocate it to a side or even in the middle of the drawing area.

AutoCAD: Another time saving approach

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Polar Tracking:

How it works – when the cursor is in the area of the pre-set Increment
and/or Additional Angle(s), the cursor tracks automatically in the direction of those angles. Polar Tracking is a toggle ON/OFF feature found in the Status Bar. (Blue = ON or active / Grey = OFF or inactive). The F10 key works the same way.

Polar Tracking 1

Where to access the Polar Tracking tab:

Polar Tracking settings are found in the Drafting Settings Dialog Box within the Polar Tracking tab. This can be accessed by Right-Clicking over the Polar Tracking Icon located in the Status bar then selecting the option Settings, (quickest most direct option) or by accessing the Drafting Settings Dialog box any of the other numerous ways AutoCAD offers.

Polar Tracking 2

How to set up Incremental angles:

Within the Polar Tracking tab the pre-defined Increment angle options are located within the drop down list. Select the appropriate angle.

AutoCAD offers a list of eight pre-defined angles, 5, 10, 15, 18, 22.5, 30, 45, 90. Example of an Increment angle selected: if the angle of 30 is selected your cursor will track on all angles of the increment of 30. Ex. 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and so on.

*Only one Increment angle can be selected (active) at a time.

Polar Tracking 3

How to set Additional angles:

If you need an angle that doesn’t fall into the range of any Increment angle, AutoCAD offers right below the option of Additional angles. Select the box in front of Additional angles (this places a in the box), then select New. This placed a text box to the right for the Additional angle(s) to be typed in. If another angle is needed repeat the process.

AutoCAD allows up to eight angles to be added. Theses angles are not incremental, they are for the specified angle only. Example: the Additional angle of 8 will track only when in the range of angle 8, along with whatever the Incremental angle is set to.

*Watch out for over kill, too many Additional angles may slow your drawing time down rather than increase it.

Polar Tracking 4

*Ortho and Polar Tracking cancel each other out, they cannot be on at the same time.

*Key here is to put in the most commonly used angle(s) for the type of work you do. For the randomly used angles access them the old fashion way by typing them in as we have always done.

Try this, set the Incremental angle to 30 and make sure Polar Tracking is ON. Start the Line command, pick any point anywhere in the drawing area and slowly move your cursor around a 360ᵒ direction. You should see the green tracking line snap to those Incremental angle of 30ᵒ, along with a tooltip not only the angle but the distance you are away from the selected point. This feature is not limited to the Line command it works with other Draw and Modify commands.

AutoCAD: No need for construction geometry

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Object Tracking used by itself or along with Temporary Tracking (TT) may take the place of your construction geometry. At a minimum it will save you time once you retraining your brain to use this approach.

Object Tracking: Object Tracking allows you to place new geometry or re-locate existing geometry by reference one to two points off of exiting geometry. This feature works with the Object Snap feature. Both features must be active (ON), the Object Snap(s) pre-set or (Running). Object Tracking references the pre-set Object Snap points and automatically activates when you hover the Cursor over the corresponding geometry a (+) appears to show where the cursor is tracking from. No selecting the geometry when you hover just let AutoCAD do its thing.

These features are found as a button in the Status Bar, toggle On or OFF, and also accessed through your function keys.

F3 = Object Snap

F8 = Ortho

F11 = Object Snap Tracking

(Objects Snaps were referenced a few weeks ago in a previous blog).

Object Tracking button - 1
Temporary Tracking (TT): Temporary Tracking allows you to reference from an existing piece of
geometry out to a new point in space, then from that point to a second point. Key to this option is to type in the TT at the first point prompt.

Object Snap Tracking, Drawing a Line using One Point of reference from existing geometry:

Object Snap Tracking, Moving a Circle using Two reference points (Midpoint) of a Rectangle:

Temporary Tracking, (TT) Placing a Rectangle referencing existing geometry for the first point out to a second point in space:

*Do not bring your cursor back over the (+) as that will remove it and you will have to start again.

*The default setting for Object tracking is to track off of 0ᵒ, 90ᵒ, 180ᵒ, 270ᵒ. If other angles are needed Polar Tracking can be defined.