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AutoCAD 2015 and AutoCAD LT 2015 Bible

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Label the scale of individual viewports

A reader asked me how to label the scale of individual viewports when they have different scales. You can use fields to accomplish this.

If you only have 1 viewport, you can also let the system automatically show pre-set scale in the title block

Let’s look at the example below with 2 viewports, each one uses a different scale.

autocad-tips-label-scale-viewports-1

Here are the steps to label multiple view ports with different scale: Continue reading Label the scale of individual viewports

Easily import text and dimension styles from other drawings

There’s no reason to recreate the wheel – or text or dimension styles, if you have them elsewhere. The easiest way to import a text or dimension style from another drawing is to use the DesignCenter.

Follow these steps:

  1. Go to the View tab then locate DesignCenter icon under the Palettes section or simply type “ADCENTER”. A reader also make a useful comment of another shortcut. Type Ctrl+2 to bring up or close down Center window.autocad-tips-import-text-dimension-styles-1
  2. From the Folder list (it looks a lot like Windows Explorer) navigate to the folder where the drawing that has the text or dimension style that you need is located.
  3. Click the drawing’s Plus sign to expand it and choose the type of elements that you want to import, such as a text style.
  4. On the right, you’ll see a list of the text styles that are available in the drawing. Drag the one you want onto the drawing area.

You can also use the Content Explorer, although the set-up process is more complex. Here are the steps:

  1. Click the Plug-Ins tab, then click Explore.
  2. If the folder where the drawing you is not listed, click Add Watched Folder at the bottom.
  3. Navigate to the folder, select it, and click OK. AutoCAD scans the drawings in the folder; this process may take some time. The Content Explorer works best when you plan in advance.
  4. When the process of scanning is done, or if the folder you want is listed, you can do one of two things:
  5. If you know the name of the element, enter it in the Search box at the top of the Content Explorer.
  6. If you know the location and name of the drawing, double-click the folder and navigate to the drawing. Double-click the drawing to display its elements.
  7. When you see the element you want, such as a text style, drag it onto the drawing area to import it into your drawing.

Our reader, Doug, mentioned a 3rd simple method to easily import text and dimension styles from other drawings, which is to Copy/paste the text & dimension styles you want from one drawing to another. You can also ‘insert’ the drawing with the wanted data and just cancel out of the command once it asks you for an insertion point. This will bring in ALL data from the original drawing, ie. text, dim styles, blocks, etc.

Let us know which option you prefer: 1,2 or 3? Do you have any other tips for importing text or dimension styles? Leave a comment!

autocad-tips-import-text-dimension-styles-2

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.

autocad-tips-multileader-style-2

  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

Do you know that you can adjust setting of your mouse’s wheel to zoom quickly and efficiently?

Most mice have a wheel and you can use it in a number of ways — scroll it in 2 directions, click it, and double-click it. Plus, you can combine keys such as the Shift key with the mouse wheel to get even more capabilities. AutoCAD makes good use of your mouse wheel. Here are some of the options.

autocad-tips-mouse-wheel-1System variables that affect the mouse wheel

There are 3 system variables that affect how your mouse wheel works:

  1. ZOOMFACTOR: This system variable sets the amount of magnification change that occurs when you scroll the wheel forward or backward. You can choose from 3 to 100 and the default value is 60. A higher value changes the magnification more.
  2. ZOOMWHEEL: This sets the direction of the scrolling.  By default, this is set to 0, which means that when you scroll the wheel forward you zoom in and when you scroll it backward, you zoom out. If you set the value to 1, you reverse the action. Most people change this setting when they have other software that works the opposite of the AutoCAD default and they want the zooming to be the same in all their software.
  3. MBUTTONPAN: By default (set to 1), when you press the mouse wheel and drag, you pan across your drawing. However, when you set this system variable to 0, the wheel acts like a middle button and supports the action that you define in the CUI or CUIX menu file, which could be just about anything.

Mouse wheel actions that you can use

Common actions you can perform when MBUTTONPAN is set to the default of 1:

  • Zoom in or out: Rotate the wheel forward to zoom in, backward to zoom out. (As mentioned above, you can change the direction with the ZOOMWHEEL system variable.)
  • Zoom to extents: Double-click the wheel button.
  • Pan: Press and drag with the wheel button.
  • Pan (joystick): Press Ctrl and the wheel button and drag the mouse.  This is used in 3D, although I’m not sure I understand exactly what’s happening. Try it out and see if it’s useful for you.
  • 3D Orbit: Press Shift and the wheel button and drag the mouse.
  • Free Orbit: Press Ctrl, Shift and the wheel button all at once and drag the mouse. You’ll see the 3D orbit arc ball as you do this.

Do you have any mouse wheel tips? Leave a comment!

Reduce file size and eliminate unwanted drawing settings with the WBLOCK command

Several people have asked about inexplicably large files.

Kerry Overall wrote me,

I’ve seen unusually large CAD .dwg files. I had the same problem when a colleague stumbled onto a solution that greatly helped me. Open the drawing….wblock,   click on “Entire Drawing” and save it. I had a simple file that was 73mb and by doing this it reduced it down to 3mb.  And quickly , too.

The WBLOCK command writes (saves) the objects in a drawing as a new drawing. You can specify specific objects or the entire drawing.

A bonus is that you lose many settings in the current drawing. You can therefore use this technique to troubleshoot problem drawings that don’t behave the way you want them to. It’s often hard to ferret out the settings that might be causing the problem — such as system variables — so moving the objects to a new drawing can be an easy fix.

Here are the steps to reduce extremely large Autocad file with wblock command:

  1. If you want, you can select objects in advance.autocad-tips-reduce-file-size-wblock-1
  2. Type WBLOCK on the command line or choose Insert> Block Definition panel> click the Create Block drop-down arrow and choose Write Block. (It’s easiest to just type it on the command line.) The Write Block dialog box opens. If you pre-selected objects, the number of objects appears in the Objects section of the dialog box.
  3. To write the entire drawing, choose Entire Drawing at the top.
  4. You can choose a base point. If you want to be able to insert the drawing (or the selected objects) using a base point on one of the objects, for example, click the Pick Point button and specify the base point.
  5. In the Objects section, you can choose to retain the objects in the current drawing, convert them to a block, or delete them from the drawing.
  6. In the Destination section, click the Ellipsis button and browse to the location where you want to save the new drawing. Give the drawing a name and click the Save button.
  7. If desired, choose units from the Insert Units drop-down list. You can choose Unitless. You can even choose light years or parsecs if you’re thinking really big!
  8. Click OK.

If you did these steps to make your drawing smaller, go into Windows Explorer and check the size of the original and new drawings.

There are also many useful additional tips in the comment section. Go and check it out if this tip doesn’t work for you.

What other techniques have you used to reduce the size of AutoCAD drawings? Leave a comment and share with others!

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 time 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.

Comment from a reader that we find useful to share here. – TIME, of course, tracks elapsed time not actual working time. So, if you leave the timer on while at lunch TIME reports incorrectly (unless you are discussing work over lunch). TIME must be turned OFF and ON when not working on files.

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!

What software and hardware do you use in 2021?

Last time we did the poll was in 2014. It’ll be interesting to see what has or has not changed since then.

Many AutoCAD users have a favorite mouse, sometimes with lots of buttons on them. You may have a keyboard that makes entering data easier. Perhaps you think you have the best (and biggest) monitor around.autocad-tips-software-hardware-1

You probably also use 3rd-party software. Let’s share our hardware and software secrets! Leave a comment!

If the item is available on Amazon.com, please give the Amazon.com URL. Otherwise, give as much information as you can and where to purchase it.

Peripherals

Which mouse do you use? Do you use a puck or stylus? Do you have a special keyboard? Can you recommend a monitor? How do you set up your monitor, is it just single monitor or 2 even 3 monitors? Do you use any mobile devices like tablets to assist with sketching/drafting?

Why did you make those choices? Why are they great for AutoCAD users?

Software

Have you purchased 3rd-party software that works with AutoCAD? What does it do? Where can others buy it?

Leave a comment and share you good — and maybe bad — experiences!

How to Easily Find and Replace Multiple Text in AutoCAD

Suppose that you want to rename some text labels. For example, you have some part numbers that start with G- and now you want them to start with J- or you want to change every instance of “box” to “rectangle”.

First, it may be hard to find all of the instances of the text you want to change and if there are a lot of changes, it would be very time consuming to change each one individually. Instead, you can use the FIND command, which lets you find and replace text anywhere in your drawing. It finds the following types of text:

  • Single-line text
  • Multiline text
  • Text in tables
  • Block attributes
  • Dimensions
  • Hyperlinks and hyperlink descriptions

autocad_tips-replace-text-1Choose Annotate tab, Text panel, Find Text, and enter the text you want to find in the Ribbon’s text box. Then click the Find Text button or just press Enter.

The Find and Replace dialog box opens with the text you entered in both the Find and Replace text boxes.

You can use wildcard characters: Continue reading How to Easily Find and Replace Multiple Text in AutoCAD

Create objects with transparency in your AutoCAD drawing

Transparency gives you the opportunity to create presentation-ready drawings. You can draw an object that is up to 90% transparent. Here you see some trees filled with a 60%-transparent solid fill.

Transparency in AutoCAD 2011



As with other object properties, you should use the Layer Properties Manager to create a layer and specify the transparency as a layer property. Here you see a red layer that is 75% transparent.
autocad-tips-transparency-1
autocad-tips-transparency-3Transparency is pretty useless for the line that delineates an object, but is quite useful for a solid fill hatch or a gradient. Here you see the effect of a red 75%-transparent layer on top of an opaque blue layer. The result is purple at the point of overlap.** As one of our readers point out – To show Transparency effect on your drawings, remember to check if the correct display mode is activated. Here is how –  Enter “TRANSPARENCYDISPLAY” in the command prompt, then enter “1” to activate.

To create an object with a partially transparent solid fill, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Layer Properties Manager (the LAYER command).
  2. Click the New Layer button and name the layer.
  3. In the Color column for that layer, click the color swatch and choose a color.
  4. Click in the Transparency column for that layer to open the Layer Transparency dialog box and type a value between 0 (completely opaque, the default) and 90 (mostly transparent). Then click OK.
  5. Make any other changes that you want to the layer’s specifications and close or collapse the Layer Properties Manager.
  6. From the Home tab> Layers panel< Layer drop-down list, choose the new layer to make it current. (You can also do this after the next step.)
  7. Draw a closed object.
  8. Choose Home tab> Draw panel> Hatch.
  9. In the Pattern panel, choose Solid.
  10. At the Pick internal point or [Select objects/settings]: prompt, pick inside your closed object.
  11. Press Enter to accept the solid fill and end the command.

Another useful comment from our reader is in relation to xref. The transparency functionality only works if it is set in the current drawings, not as Xref to another drawing. The work around is to copy with base point with all the data from the external file & paste it into the drawing.

Also, if you have trouble seeing the transparency setting after plotting to PDF, please make sure that you have checked “Plot Transparency” under Plot options.

Do you use transparency in your drawings? Why or why not?

Make the command line work the way you want it to

The command line is an essential component of drawing in AutoCAD. Even if you don’t type commands there, you need to look at it for prompts and you probably use it to specify options.

Do you know you can use command line to launch other programs?

The command line is actually a palette window. By default, the command line is docked at the bottom of your screen.

AutoCAD tips: Command line

See more of the command line

Another default is that the command line palette shows 3 lines of text: the Command: prompt and 2 previous lines. You can drag the upper edge of the palette to show more lines.

AutoCAD tips: Command line

To display the entire history of the command line, press F2 to open the AutoCAD Text Window.

AutoCAD tips: Command line

See less of the command line

On the other hand, if you think that the command line takes up too much space you can hide it or collapse it.

To hide the command line, pres CTrl + 9. So you don’t do this by accident without knowing how to get the command line back, you see this message:

AutoCAD tips: Command line

Check the Always Close the Command Line Window check box to avoid seeing this message the next time. Then click Yes. Now, you can easily toggle the command line to display and hide it.

To collapse the command line (like other palettes such as the Properties window or the Tool Palettes), first undock it by dragging its gray title bar at the left.

AutoCAD tips: Command line

Then right-click the gray title bar and choose Auto-Hide. The command line palette collapses to a small gray bar. That’s pretty small! But as soon as you hover your cursor over the bar, the command line expands.

AutoCAD tips: Command line

Let AutoCAD help you

Starting with AutoCAD 2012, when you start to type a command, AutoCAD auto-completes. If you pause, you see all commands starting with the letters you typed and you can choose the desired command.

AutoCAD tips: Command line

You can do minor editing as you type, in case you make a mistake (before pressing Enter):

  • Home: Moves the cursor to the beginning of the line
  • End: Moves the cursor to the end of the line
  • Left arrow: Moves the cursor to the left
  • Right arrow: Moves the cursor to the right
  • Backspace: Deletes the character to the left of the cursor
  • Delete: Deletes the character to the right of the cursor

You can also use Ctrl+V to paste text from the Windows clipboard.

Retrieve command line

One of our readers suggests these 5 easy steps to retrieve command line:

  1. Go to bottom blue area below drawing area and right click.
  2. Choose Hide Task Bar.
  3. Move hidden command bar to drawing area.
  4. Turn back on task bars.
  5. Reposition Command baring

More command line tricks & tips

Here are some more ways to make using the command line easier:

  • Repeat the last line you entered: Press the Up arrow and pres Enter.
  • Copy a previous command from the Text Window: Press F2 to open the Text Window, highlight the item you want, right-click, and choose Paste To CmdLine.
  • Repeat a recent command: In the Text Windows, right-click and choose Recent Commands. Then choose the command you want.
  • This one is from our reader comments: Copy the command line history texts, Type “COPYHIST” in the command line window. Once you hit the enter button, texts are automatically copied in your clipboard. These are just text lines, you can paste it anywhere.

Do you have any other tips for using the command line window? Leave a comment!