AutoCAD: Quickly select similar geometry in a drawing

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

Quick tip:

Quickly Select similar geometry in a drawing without know any of its properties:

Select Similar will select the same type of geometry. (Lines, Circles, Polylines…)

Select an item in a drawing

Right Click – this opens a pop up window

Select the option Select Similar.

All geometry with the same type and same properties will be selected per what is defined in the Select Similar Setting dialog box.

Select 5

One window is selected Right Click / Select Similar command

Select 6

All windows are selected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select Similar Settings Dialog box:
Within this dialog box is where the features are chosen that will be selected:

At the Command prompt type in SELECTSIMILAR then access the option Settings. This is done either by typing the SE (not case sensitive) or selecting the option [Settings] in the command line.
Within this dialog box select the appropriate options:
Select 7

AutoCAD: Create and add a Button to the Quick Access Tool Bar

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

AutoCAD offers a few ways to access commands. A Button (when you know there location) is usually the quickest way to start a command. There are a few commands though that still need to be typed to access them: for example ATTEDIT (Attribute Edit) seems to be one of them. To eliminate some typing created a Button.

Here is how:

In AutoCAD 2014 – Select the drop down arrow located just after the Workspace arrow in the Quick Access Toolbar. 2014 Drop Down 1
Select the option More Commands…This opens the Customize User Interface dialog box.

Button 2
In AutoCAD 2015 – Select the Workspace arrow located in the Status Bar,

2015 Workspace 3
Within that drop down select Customize… This opens the Customize User Interface dialog Box as in 2014.

2015 Customize 4
Within the Customize User Interface dialog box starting with the Customize Tab
select the Command you want to add to the Toolbar.

*To filter the list of commands, in the Search area type in the command or part of the command you want. The list will reduce to those relevant commands.

*The command ATTEDIT is not available in this list. I type in ATT and it thinned out the list. ATTEDIT opens the Edit Attribute Dialog box to appear allowing quicker modifications to the attributes “the text part only”.

*I selected the command Edit Attribute. This command does allow Attribute modification but opens a more extensive dialog box the (Enhanced Attribute Editor) where more than just the annotation can be modified, for quick text changes this tends to be time consuming.

With a command selected right-click and select the Duplicate option. By doing
this you do not eliminate or modify what AutoCAD has set up. It created a copy that can be modified. Right Click over of that duplicated command and Select Rename.
Button 5
Create a Button: An existing Button can be selected, “the only concern there is it most likely to already be in use and you may confuse them.” So modifying or creating your own can be done.
Here is how:
On the right of the dialog box Button Image select the Edit button,
If modifying: choose your color and then the option of Pen Line or Circle and add it to the existing image.

If designing your own: Select the Clear Button, (I like to work with the Grid on) Then using the Colors and the option of Pen Line or Circle add the Image you want. There is also the option to erase if needed.

Once the Button is created Save the Image. You will also want to Export the Image out so that you have a copy somewhere safe in case of a system crash and also so it can be added to other systems in your office. If it is a time saver for you it most likely would help out a fellow co-worker.
Button 6
Define the Macro:
In the Properties Area (lower right) change the Macro line to ATTEDIT. Leaving the ^C^C as the prefix. AutoCAD places this is in front of these buttons/commands, it represents a double cancel. Highly recommend leaving this. Then select Apply.

Button 7
Place the new command into the Quick Access Toolbar:
Right-Click over the newly created command and select Copy.
Select the Transfer tab: Path out to Quick Access Toolbars / select Quick Access Toolbars1, Right Click and select Paste.
Button 8
*The newly created command will be listed and highlighted in blue. To move it into a preferred position, Pick – Hold and drag it into the order you want it to show up on the Quick Access toolbar.

Select Apply – Select OK. The Button will now show up within the Quick Access Toolbar.
Button 9
Always TEST out any customized features a few times to make sure it is responding the way it needs to.

The result is the following Dialog Box:
Button 10
Side note:Button 11
Button 12

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.
    • Lynda.com – 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.

Process:

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: Calculate the Area

Written by: Cindra Drowne-Walsh

No math involved: Calculate the Area, find out the Perimeter of your geometry quickly.

Need to make sure the new tank will fit into the open space, want to calculate the square footage before a rug install, or figure out how much material will be wasted?

The AREA Command:

AREA command allows quick calculation of the area and perimeter geometry.

Where to access of the AREA command:

Ribbon:            Home Tab, Utilities Panel, Measure Button drop down, select Area.

Command Line: type in AREA or MEASUREGEOM (If you can remember) then enter. Either approach offers the same command options.

*Area is a running command, meaning it does not finish by itself you need to finalize or stop the command. When you are done you either select the ESC (escape key) or select the eXit option in the command options line or type an X in the command line and then enter.

Steps to calculate the area of a geometry: *this only works when the geometry is straight lines. (see video 1)

Command: Area

Select the endpoints of the lines: Working your way around the geometry (clockwise or counter clockwise either direction works, the selection cannot overlap itself)

AutoCAD fills in the area with a light green display to help make sure the area being selected is what the user is looking for.

Enter once, the area has been completely selected.

The Area, Perimeter even Length information is displayed within the command line


*Change this geometry into Polyline and the process is quicker. You can utilize the Object option which allows a single selection of the entity.

Steps to calculate the area of an object. Geometry that are polylines  (see video 2)
Command: Area
Enter to start the Object (command option) – this is the default option so  it does not have to be selected.
Bring your cursor into the drawing and select the Object / polyline to be calculated.
Enter
The Area, Perimeter even Length information is displayed within the command line


*When calculating geometry with arcs or curves the geometry must be converted into a Polyline (one entity) as the area command doesn’t calculate arcs when selecting individual points on the screen but will when selecting an Object which a polyline is considered to be.

Steps to calculate the area of complex object containing arc (see video 3)
Command: Area
Enter to start the Object (command option) – this is the default option so it does not have to be selected.
Bring your cursor into the drawing and select the Object / polyline to be calculated.
Enter
The Area and Perimeter is displayed within the command line


Steps to calculate the area of an object that contains an areas either being taken up by another solid or a void where a piece has been removed, (Islands)
This process includes additional steps that must be followed in exact order. Think of it as a mathematical problem, start (ADD area) with the largest number (in this case the largest object) then (SUBTRACT area) the smaller number (in this case the smaller geometry items inside the larger geometry) to be removed from the calculation.

Steps to calculate the area containing Islands (see video 4)
Command: Area
Add area
Object – select the outer / largest Objects
Enter
Subtract area
Object – select the interior / smaller Objects


Note:
GREEN filled in area represents the area being calculated.
RED filled in area represents the area being removed from the calculation.

Ways to access the Area Command options are either typing from the keyboard the capitalized and blue letter of the option, selecting the option with the cursor that are listed within the Command Line prompts or by Right-Clicking and selecting the command options from the popup window.