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Manage the user interface–the ribbon and the menu bar

AutoCAD 2009 introduced the ribbon, a completely different way of specifying commands. Some people like it; some don’t. However, if you want to use the ribbon (and it’s not going away), you can create a hybrid user interface that gives you the best of all worlds.

One reason to continue with menus is if you have third-party or customized menus that you need to continue using.

Vivian Takagaki wrote: “I made a big jump from 2002 to 2009 and I still have vendor toolbars that haven’t upgraded to ribbons. To get both ribbons and toolbars I did the following: (Saved my current settings to a Profile – just in case) Switched to Acad Classic and set up all my toolbars I used. Typed _Ribbon to get the new interface. And now I have both. I can also minimize the ribbon interface to save space to Tabs or Panel Titles. (And saved my new settings to a Profile – just in case)”

Once you have the view you like, click the Workspace Switching button on the status bar and choose Save Current As to save the new workspace.

Another option is to turn the menu bar on and off as needed. In this way, you can work with the ribbon, but return to the menu when necessary. The system variable is menubar and 0 turns it off, while 1 turns it on.

Russ Green wrote a DIESEL expression that toggles the menu bar on and off and assigned it to a keyboard shortcut (Sift+Z). Here it is:


Here’s how to create that keyboard shortcut:

  1. Enter cui on the command line to open the Custom User Interface dialog box.
  2. In the Command List pane, click the Create a New Command button.
  3. In the Properties pane, enter a name and description for the command.
  4. Click in the Macro box, and then click the Ellipsis button at the right to open the Long String Editor dialog box.
  5. Enter the expression shown above.
  6. Back in the Command List, choose Custom Commands from the drop-down list of commands to more easily find the new command and choose it.
  7. In the customizations in All CUI Files pane, expand the Keyboard Shortcuts item.
  8. Drag the new command to the Shortcut Keys item under Keyboard Shortcuts.
  9. In the Properties pane, expand the Access section if necessary and click in the Keys Section. Click the Ellipsis button to open the Shortcut Keys dialog box
  10. Press the desired shortcut key combination on your keyboard. Click OK.
  11. Click Apply, then click OK to return to your drawing.

Now, you can just press your keyboard shortcut to toggle the menu bar on and off.

Ellen Finkelstein

7 comments to Manage the user interface–the ribbon and the menu bar

  • Dan

    I’m using AutoCAD Electrical 2010. Onthe Ribbon there is a message saying “The ribbon does not have any tabs or panels currently loaded”. How do I load tabs and panels?

  • Ellen

    I’m not familiar with Electrical, so I don’t know if it’s different from vanilla AutoCAD. I also don’t know if you have customized your menu. But, I would start with the MENULOAD command. If you can choose ACAD, then click Load, that’s good. If not, click Unload and then click Load, to unload and reload the ACAD menu. You could also try the CUI command, click the current workspace and see what is displayed on the right under ribbon tabs.

  • Dayton

    I have lost my menus such as draw, render,etc. Everything that would allow me to copy, move, trim etc. I don’t have anything that will allow me to enter commands. Also my menu bar ie. file, window, help. These are the only command I have. The command line at the bottom of the drawing is also gone.

  • Ellen

    Perhaps you did a “clean screeen” by accident. Try Ctrl + 0 (zero) or clicking the Clean Screen button on the status bar at the bottom, all the way on the right.

  • Dayton

    Ellen, my command line was also gone but I finally got that back on but it is only 2 lines now and it was 3 lines. However, I only have 3 items in my menu bar and I don’t have any of the drawing tabs under the menu bar such as erase, line menus, annotation etc.



  • Dayton

    Ellen, I did try the things that you suggested but nothing worked.

  • Ellen

    You can resize the command line by dragging on the top border.
    You tried MENULOAD to reload the acad menu?
    If that doesn’t work, try reinstalling AutoCAD.

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