Author Archive for Walt Sparling

No matter what your discipline, one of the tasks of a designer is to make sure that code or ordinance requirements are met. A lot of codes and ordinances incorporate clearance, spacing or directional items that must be complied with.  Verifying compliance is a regular task that could mean embarrassment or possibly a red tag and significant costs if it is not caught in the plans review but does get caught in the field.

Two common code regulatory agencies that have requirements that are perfect for incorporating into blocks are the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the National Electric Code (NEC).

I have dealt with both myself, and it always adds a little more time than I would like to spend to verify that the necessary clearances are met – especially when plan changes happen.   Now this does not mean I do not want to do this important task, I just want to get it done faster!

In my current field of work, the NEC is what I deal with regularly, and an important concern is that of clearances in front of and around electrical gear. This is a safety issue, and if not met can stop a job in its tracks and possibly cause expensive re-work.

A few years ago I decided to address this by incorporating these clearances in the company’s master blocks. As the blocks got more detailed, they became more useful for not only verifying code clearances but also being able to verify quick electric room layouts.

Visual Clarity

Below is a screen shot of an electrical room without clearances shown.  When looking at this electric room plan, the non-electrical person will often assume the room is too big and has a lot of wasted space, which is something we deal with some building owners and architects.


Figure 1

We don’t want to waste space if possible, but as part of our design, we have to consider, future expansion, ventilation around equipment, and most importantly manufacturer’s and code required clearances.

Below is the same room with clearances turned on.


Figure 2

The clearances shown in Figure 2 above are on a non-plot layer called “E-clearances” (not defpoints).

Note: If you have a bunch of (or any) non-plotting notes and line work on defpoints – please don’t. Defpoints has a purpose, and it’s not for storing your coordination notes and linework.  If you would like an explanation as to why using defpoints is bad, check out the post titled “Layers are a piece of Cake” – my first ever FunctionSense post.

I typically leave this non-plotting coordination layer on as an easy check when there are background changes – to make sure we stay in compliance.

More Useful Data

To make the blocks even more informative, add supplemental data that allows you, your coworkers and any team members that you share your drawings with to stay informed on your design intent. In Figure 2 above, you may notice text in the transformer and clearance lines. The text in the clearance lines lets us know which code situation we fall in based on the voltage and material in front of the gear.  The notes in the transformer tell us what size transformer our layout is based on and how much it weighs in case it needs to be hung from structure.  This may also be helpful for any other team members that we share the drawings with.

Most companies, mine included, use a specific manufacturer as the basis of design.  One of the things I have also started incorporating in manufacturer specific blocks is an additional ‘Visibility State’ that lists the manufacturer’s reference data or specific application notes.

Check out this quick video showing some of the features mentioned above.


There are some pretty cool things you can do to increase your productivity by incorporating code required clearances and other useful data into your dynamic blocks.  Other items we commonly incorporate:

  • Ordinance required light pole spacing (based on pole height – visibility state, plots on drawings)
  • Coverage patterns for Occupancy sensors (based on multiple manufacturers with different colors, non-plot layer)
  • Coverage of Fire alarm strobes based on Candela rating (visibility states, non-plot layer)

Are you incorporating code, ordinance or manufacturer’s data in your blocks for coordination purposes?  If you have a unique idea, I would love to hear about it.  Leave it in the comments or email me.








Autodesk University 2016 (AU) is right around the corner!  Are you registered?  Are you wishing you were? This is my 5th AU and I am definitely looking forward to it. If you have not registered yet, but are intrigued, go here:

Registration info

It would be awesome to meet you at the  event.  If you are going, message me and let me know!

I am currently in the process of writing an article for a special edition of AUGI World that will be distributed at AU. I can’t share everything from the article, but there are a few things that I feel are important for those attending AU for your first time.

Be prepared

What does that mean? Well – do your homework!  Not sure? Check out these posts on surviving and thriving at the annual AU event by some experienced AU veterans below.

This is a list of bloggers that have written AU specific posts as well as links to their sites. When you get to each site, for additional AU topic posts,  just search on the key word “university”.

Get the APP

If you are going and have not done so yet, get the App.

The links above will give you a good intro to what the event is and provide some actionable tips on how to get prepared. If you have questions, I would be glad to help if I can.  You can email me at: or tweet me at @functionsense.

As I said above, let me know if you are going and maybe we can get together for a coffee or a Crown! : )













In my last post I indicated that I would follow up on a specific issue that I see happening on a pandemic level  – anonymous blocks.

Simple Definition of anonymity: the quality or state of being unknown to most people : the quality or state of being anonymous

Anonymous in AutoCAD basically means unnamed, so an anonymous block is a block without a name. In reality it does have a name, it just does not make much sense.   Below are a couple anonymous blocks – tell me what you think they are:

  • A$C4AE13D6C
  • A$C7227553F

Here is an image of the blocks:

Anonymous Blocks






I am not sure about you, but I am thinking that better names would be:

  • Fire-Extinguisher

I think we would all agree on this, but you may have a few questions:

  • How did these become anonymous?
  • Why is that a problem?
  • How can I fix them?

It is very easy to make an anonymous block, which is why they are so common.  Below are the steps:

  1. Find some geometry that you think should be a block instead of a bunch of line segments
  2. Select and copy all of them with the right click and ‘Clipboard’ copy command or ‘CTRL-C’.  Note: A slight step-up would be to ‘Copy with Basepoint’ (CTRL-SHIFT-C).
  3. Then Right-click and Paste as block.

AutoCAD Anonymous Blocks Video






And that is how they get created!

Now you see how they came to be. As far as why this is a problem, think back to above and how hard it is to identify them to insert another one.  Of course you could copy and rotate the block each time you wanted another copy – which apparently some people do, verses inserting it and allowing the insert routine to offer scaling, rotating, etc… This is shoddy work in my opinion and does not do much for future drawing tasks. Hell, if you are going to do this, at least rename it to something that makes sense – which brings us to how to fix the ones we have.

Fixing Anonymous blocks:


Renaming the anonymous block is the quickest way to fix this issue – this will provide you with a logical reference to the block.  If you have not renamed a block before, you should know that the RENAME command allows you to rename a lot of things in AutoCAD  – look at this list:

Rename Anonymous Blocks











If you want to be able to use the anonymous block in future drawings (Great idea!), you can WBLOCK the anonymous block out to a folder on your server or location where you keep your master blocks.  WBlocking the anonymous block out will still require you know what the block name is, so I would recommend that you rename it first anyway.

WBlocking is easy – lets walk through the steps:

  1. Figure out what the anonymous name of the block is. You can do this by highlighting the block and right clicking to see its ‘Properties’ OR use the ‘LIST’ command.  LIST will allow you to copy the text from the command window and paste it into the next step, which saves some memory brain cells – cool!
  2. Rename the block with the RENAME command
  3. WBLOCK out the block to your standard block library directory
  4. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!  Now everyone that has access to that directory now can use the block in their drawings!

AutoCAD Anonymous Blocks Video






All fixed!

If you want to know more about creating blocks, creating powerful Dynamic blocks, editing or enhancing the blocks you have check out these other posts:

So what’s next?  What would you be interested in learning more about?  Got an idea for a post? Email me and I’ll see what I can do.



Create real blocks in lieu of Anonymous blocks!









As a designer I work in AutoCAD on a daily basis and use files provided by others.  I am constantly miffed by the level of quality or lack there of in the files that I receive.  Today was another example of what I typically refer to as BAD CAD and why I had to do a little Rant!  But this one got me irked enough to write about it.  Today’s BAD CAD involved an issue I see pretty often, which involves blocks – but this drawing managed to actually cover a few of my hot buttons in one single session.

  1. Blocks were all anonymous “A$C63F21903”, “A$C6F944C45”, etc.
  2. If a block was mirrored, it had another anonymous name
  3. Blocks were created on an ‘ep-text’ or ‘rcp-text’ layer
  4. The blocks were composed of line segments
  5. Blocks were bylayer – Gold Star!
  6. Insertion points were in ‘outer space’
  7. Text was the “Standard” style

For some, the flaws are obvious, for others – maybe not so much.  Let’s look at each one to see what could have been done better.

  1. Blocks are not that hard to make. I understand that you can just select everything and right click to use the clipboard copy option, and then “pastes as block”.  But what you get is a bunch of blocks with no rhyme or reason to their names – anonymous blocks.  This is shoddy work in my opinion and does to do much for future drawing tasks.  Hell if you are going to do this, at least rename it to something that makes sense.  I’ll get more in to the past as block pandemic in future post. [See this post on how to make blocks]
  2. I guess this user did not know how to use the mirror command.
  3. Now these were electrical devices, so I assume the ‘ep’ meant ‘electrical power’ and the ‘ec’ meant ‘electrical crap’ because I couldn think of another good ‘c’ word that made sense since most of the items on the ‘ec-text’ layer were lights.  BUT – how did ‘text’ become part of either layer name – none of it was text! [As an additional note, there were things all over the drawing that had NOTHING to do with electrical that were on the ‘ec-text’ layer!]
  4. This is something that only some die-hard CADD folks might see as an issue. If you make a shape – make it with ‘polylines’ not ‘lines’. I do this to avoid line segment issues should someone (God forbid) exploded it!  it also makes it easier to manipulate when I use ‘Bedit’.  [See post on the Block Editor ‘Bedit’ here]
  5. When I edited the blocks, the line work was ‘BYLAYER’, which is great – gold Star! Of course they lost the star by making the blocks on a ‘ec’-text’ layer instead of layer ‘0’….
  6. When inserting a block, it is great to know where the insertion point will be, like on a wall, intersection of a grid, etc.  But these blocks had the insertion points at random locations.  this typically happens when someone just picks a point in space or creates a block from existing entities and chooses a reference point that relates to that particular location. [See this post on why this is important]
  7. I am all about “Standards” – except using the default AutoCAD Standard styles for anything.

You can check out the 101 series I did earlier on the topic of blocks here.


Are you new to AutoCAD? Have you been using AutoCAD for years but only use the blocks, styles, layers and tools that others have created?  Do you want to learn more or step up your game on features you’re not very strong in and pick up some practical examples of best practices?  If so, this series is for you.  Over the course of 12 months and maybe more I will cover the basics of a lot of AutoCAD tools and features that many may want or need to learn more about.

This is the 1st article in my AutoCAD 101 series – to read about the origination for this series, see the first post here: <Intro>

This month is all about Blocks (4 weeks – Define, Create, Edit, and Important Stuff)

  • What are and are not blocks (What and why)
  • Blocks are easy!!  Here is how….
  • Blockeditor (BE, BLOCKEDITOR)
  • Layer usage and flexibility in blocks (Layers, linetypes, colors, annotation scaling and Tips and Tricks) (redefining others blocks, macro and script usage)

What are Blocks?

AutoCAD defines Blocks as:  A collection of objects that are combined into a single named object. These objects can be symbols or details that are used to create representations of real world objects.  Typically, each of these blocks is an individual drawing file, perhaps saved in a folder with similar drawing files. When you need to insert one into your current drawing file, you use the INSERT command (or enter ‘I’ in the command window).

Examples of items that would be great as Blocks:


  • Desks
  • Bathtubs
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Electrical Panels
  • Air Handlers
  • Etc…

Drawing Symbols:

  • Section Cuts
  • North Arrows
  • Arrow heads
  • Column Bubbles
  • Light fixtures
  • Outlets
  • Etc…


  • Fire Proofing
  • Control Diagrams
  • Wall Sections
  • Equipment Connections
  • Structural footings
  • Etc…

What are NOT Blocks?

Basic line work that is drawn using standard drawing tools like line, rectangle, circle, etc. that are drawn and/or grouped together to represent one of the above items and copied around the drawing.  The issue is that these are just linework – not “Named objects” and therefore not Blocks.  They look pretty, but their also pretty useless.

  • Rectangles are NOT desks, bathtubs, light fixtures, etc…
  • Rectangles are NOT BLOCKS, but BLOCKS can be rectangles
  • Circles are NOT down lights, bollards, columns, sinks, manholes, etc…
  • Circles are NOT BLOCKS, but BLOCKS can be circles
  • Polygons are NOT Revision triangles, Section symbols, note tags, etc…
  • Polygons are NOT BLOCKS, but BLOCKS can be polygons
  • A bunch of lines drawn in to the shape of a chair is NOT a BLOCK, but a BLOCK can be made up of a bunch of lines drawn in to the shape of a chair

The above are all examples of linework that is drawn to look like something, then is inefficiently copied around to make a bunch of useless “copies”.  BUT, Hey – they look pretty!  Yes they do, but lets look at why this is a bad idea and why blocks are sooo much better.

Why use Blocks?

  • Let’s say you use a rectangle to represent a 2×4 light fixture and copy this around the drawing 60 times to represent your lighting plan.   No lets say the plan is reviewed and someones requires that you change the look of the rectangle – like add an offset line, change its color, add a hatch, add some detail to it – whatever…  To change the look, you would modify one of the rectangles and re-copy it to the other 59 locations – effectively starting over.  If this Light fixture (rectangle) was a block, you would just redefine it and as soon as you save it, all 60 get updated!  Yea!  And to add to it, you can then use this symbol over and over again in other projects!   What’s not to love?  Some of you are going Duh!!  Yea… well I see rectangles used as $#%&$ light fixtures waaayyy too often.  This same concept can be applied to nearly any item you create with linework.  Anytime you draw something that you intend to use again or “possibly” use again – make it a block.  I do this even for ‘one-off’ items.  I am sure you have drawn something on a job, then later,  wish you had that same thing on another job.  You typically go back and copy it and then paste it into the new job.  Depending on how you do it, you will end up with copies of linework again or an anonymous block if you “paste as block”.
  • Blocks reduce storage requirements  – In AutoCAD, each line, arc, ellipse, text, etc. uses up memory, both for storage and RAM memory usage.  If a chair is composed of 50 lines, arcs, etc and is copied around the drawing, multiple the number of lines by each copy – 6 times = 300 lines.  A BLOCK having the same amount of lines will be counted once and then a pointer will be used to reference all the other locations.
  • Objects (BLOCKS) are easier to move than linework – Try selecting all the copies of chairs or lights composed of basic linework vs selecting individual blocks. Even using the SELECTSIMILAR command, which depending on how you have it set will take possibly one selection vs many.  With linework you typically would use a window or crossing to select your items, which means you have a high probability of selecting other items as well.  Blocks can be grabbed with a single pick selection for each item or in multiples by using SELECTSIMILAR.

You may be tempted to use the Copy and “paste as block” option (Ctrl-Shift-V) to make temp blocks. that look like:  A$C19F91F38  This is not a BLOCK!

OK – it is a BLOCK, but it is a temporary block made by copying and pasting objects as a block. This is a sad example of a block – Why?

  • Does the name “A$C19F91F38” mean anything to you? – Nope – not to anyone else either…
  • Can you control the insertion point? – yes but only if you edit it in the Block Editor – it would have just been easier to make it a standard block
  • Can you rename it? – Yes, but you will need to list it and try to remember the Number and letter sequence in the RENAME dialogue – do this a lot and this is what you will see:












Now, if you are in to making dumb drawings and wasting time, then you are good to go, but if not, then you should know that Blocks are way easy to create!

And in the next post I’ll show you how…


I have been seriously lacking in my writing this year, an area that I am now working on rectifying.  To get things going again I am going to start out with a new series based on some much needed AutoCAD basics or AutoCAD 101 topics that are good for all levels of users.  

After working in the AEC industry for almost 30 years and of that about 20 using AutoCAD I have learned a lot. The majority of my learning came from on the job training, with most being self teaching through books, blogs, magazine, seminars and a lot of trial and error.  I have worked in Architectural, Mechanical and in current years Electrical offices for various firms and have consulted for a variety of other industries.  All of this has increased my education as well – not only in AutoCAD but of the specific industries.  Because of the variety of working fields and environments, I have also been exposed to a gamut of skill levels of co-workers, clients and consultants that use AutoCAD.  In this time frame I have determined that one thing is clear – AutoCAD skill sets are seriously lacking.

I believe that there are a variety of reasons for this:

  • Companies not investing in training for their employees
  • Companies not hiring the right employees
  • Employees (users) not interested in or practicing self development – for either time or money issues
  • Users not realizing the power of new commands or features due to lack of knowledge of their existence
  • As of late, users and companies not seeing the need to learn more about AutoCAD because they believe it is an old technology that will be replaced with a miracle product soon
  • Some combination of all of the above

Well – these can all be overcome and the focus of this series will be to expand users knowledge of AutoCAD features that can and will improve their productivity and efficiency now.  I have written numerous articles for AUGI world on some of the topics above, including the importance of training, hiring the right people and how to be more efficient in AutoCAD.  As I tend to get long winded in my writing, the goal of this series is to be present bite sized chunks of information that can be followed up prior to the next weekly post in the series.

What will be covered?

There are numerous tools in AutoCAD that are very helpful and and can greatly increase a users productivity and efficiency, but they have to be used to realize it.  Some examples of commands and tools that I have seen so many users not use – because of lack of understanding/knowledge or just lack of exposure:

  •  Blocks
  • Dynamic Blocks
  • Xrefs
  • Paperspace
  • Annotation scaling
  • Layer management
  • Dimensions
  • Basic Customization (just knowing some basics can greatly increase efficiency) 

The first four posts will be all about Blocks – What they are, what they aren’t and how to make and use them.

If you know someone who is lacking in or just looking to learn more in any of the above these areas , I encourage you to share this blog with them.  If you are interested in reading more about some of the other topics I mentioned above, you can find them on the AUGI website or you can download the specifc articles here:

Also – another good source for learning is the AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) website.  Check it out and consider becoming a member.  I wrote about the membership options here:


augiIf your an Autodesk product user, whether it be AutoCAD, Revit, 3D Studio, Inventor or many of the other Autodesk software products, I would recommend you look in to becoming an AUGI member.

I have been a long time AUGI member, and a NAAUG member prior to that.  Although AUGI has always had a free membership plan, two paid membership plans are now available – premium and professional.  Last year, when the paid membership plans were introduced, I chose the professional membership because I felt it was the most valuable.  Each of the plans have their benefits, but the value will vary by individual.  Below is an outline of some of the benefits of being a member as well as descriptions of each membership level. The majority of the data included here comes directly from AUGI’s website (AUGI.COM)

Why would you want an AUGI membership? The website has tons of timely and historical information for the AEC, manufacturing and multimedia industries. No matter your title or position, there is something for everyone.

AUGI has articles in their two publications, one of which is an email newsletter (Hot News) and one is a magazine (AUGI World) that is available as a printed version.


AUGI HotNews, a monthly newsletter sent to all AUGI members via email, disseminates timely information about upcoming events, special offers from Autodesk and its third-party developer community, general announcements, and a number of columns and feature articles designed to deepen your understanding and enhance your use of AutoCAD and other Autodesk products.

The AUGI Board of Directors also uses HotNews as its channel to keep the membership informed about new programs and policies being offered to the membership.

AUGI HotNews…it’s the way to stay in the know.


AUGIWorld is the official magazine of Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). Published every month, it is distributed to AUGI members around the world.

AUGIWorld issues regularly include:

  • A unique cover story with topics such as CAD Management, Salary Survey, AutoCAD add-on’s, Tips & Tricks, and more.
  • Interviews with Autodesk or industry executives answering member questions on big issues.
  • User stories portraying successfully implemented industry solutions.
  • CAD management advice column.
  • Technical Tips & Tricks section
  • Training advice column
  • AUGI events and announcements

Do you regularly search for technical information online, or look for someone to provide support or guidance?  AUGI forums are here for you.


The AUGI forums are an online community where AUGI members can discuss what they use everyday, Autodesk Design Software! These forums are the place to ask questions about your favorite design software or help others with their questions. As you frequent these forums, please offer your own tips and share any other helpful information you might come across.

You can view the forums as a guest, without being an AUGI member. But to really take advantage of what being a member of this community means, you’ll want to post. Only members can post, so if you’re just browsing now, be sure to join AUGI. These forums are one of the biggest benefits of being a member. This is, after all, the premiere destination to get technical support, and its free!

Membership Levels:

There are three membership levels, Standard, Premium, and Professional.

Which membership should you choose?

That depends on the value that you see for each membership level. Check out the links below and join up!


AUGI-Premier-member-logo-120x147  AUGI-Professional-member-logo-120x152
I encourage you to become a member and participate in the forums and possibly even consider getting involved as a volunteer.  If you have technical advice that you would like to share, consider becoming a contributing author for one of the periodicals.  I currently write for AUGI World myself. (Link)



Another educational trip to Vegas for #AU2013! This is the third year in a row that I have been fortunate enough to attend Autodesk University in Las Vegas, Nevada and each year is more educational then the last.  This year my focus was more on customization, and Revit knowledge and as usual I have a lot to brain dump when I return home.  Although there were many classes that I did not get to attend (over 700 available), the ones I did attend were very good.

If you did not get to attend this year, it does not mean you have missed out, as much of the information is available online by just creating an Autodesk account if you do not already have one – if you do, just login.  Handouts and presentations are posted from the majority of the classes on the Autodesk University website at

Much of the AU experience though really has to be experienced in person.  Behind all the handouts and Powerpoint presentations were very knowledgeable and experienced instructors/presenters that brought the paper to life.  Although many are instructors in their day jobs, many were everyday product users like you and me.

The days started around 6:00am as you awoke and headed off to breakfast and concluded around 5:30 for classes. After that you head out for a few more hours for the evening events and vendor showcase.

Some of the funner the things you did miss out on were the nightly parties and events meant for networking and relaxing after each full day of data gathering.  The two biggest events being the AUGI annual beer bust on Wednesday evening and the closing Autodesk party on Thursday.

The weather was cold (28F on Friday) compared to my home state of Florida, but if you spend most of your time inside like me, it won’t matter.

Overall I had a great time, I attended a few evening events and enjoyed hanging out with some friends I do not get to see very often otherwise.  The final party was not anything like last years event, but was still a good time with lots of food and beer/wine.

I hope to make it again next year.


P.S.  A special thanks to Autodesk and AUGI for another great year.


This is an update to my initial post about new AutoCAD features by version. This one adds AutoCAD 2014 to the list.

As was previously stated:  With each new version of AutoCAD there is typically a mass public release of blog posts, web updates and press releases with what the newest version does compared to the last or previous versions.   This is helpful for those that are considering making the move, but many skip multiple releases before taking the plunge.

The purpose of this Matrix is to let those know that may wait a long time between updates that there is often way more than just the current “New Features”.   AutoCAD 2014 for example has “4” NEW features, but a lot of enhancements to features that exist but are probably still new to many users.  If the new features alone convince you to purchase, then that’s great, but if you are on the fence, take a look at all new features introduced since your version and be sure to look in to one some of them can do for you.

Below are a couple links with more information about the changes made in AutoCAD 2014.  The first is a series of videos from Autodesk and  the second is a write-up on the “CAD-a-Blog” blog site by Brian Benton.

Autodesk – AutoCAD 2014 Features Videos

CAD-a-Blog – What’s new in AutoCAD 2014

 Note that I am a bit behind on this versions update, so you should know that Autodesk has recently released ‘Service Pack 1‘ for AutoCAD 2014.

More Info on AutoCAD’s Feature by version Matrix:

Many companies, all over the world that take the plunge are very often modifying the new versions of AutoCAD through the menu systems, toolbar changes and shortcut commands to get back as close to the old way of doing things as they can get, because “they cannot afford to be inefficient while learning the new software”.  It would be unfortunate for these companies to be using the latest version of AutoCAD in their old way, not realizing that some of the most efficient new features are buried just below the surface.  If these users learned more than just the tools that they typically use, they could be even more productive.

To educate some of these users as to a lot of the features that they may not even know exists, I have put together an AutoCAD Features by Version list and saved it here as a downloadable and printable PDF.

What is it:
A list of AutoCAD features by version since 2004.

To address users that may not be aware of some of the powerful features now in AutoCAD because they are still using older versions or using the new version just like their previous one.

How was it assembled:
Compiled from AutoCAD’s Release Matrices and various blog and website posts.

This list is not 100% accurate, but is hopefully pretty close to the actual new features introduced for each release of AutoCAD.  This list was composed from various Autodesk’s release comparison matrices, blog posts and websites that discussed each release as they came out. The Autodesk matrices were not consistent as to how the products were indicated as new and improved and each Matrix release had an inconsistent set of categories, so the mergers of features may be off.

Although I started out showing which features were improved with each version, that become very cumbersome so I removed it.  AutoCAD gets improvements on a regular basis, so the most exciting thing is when a completely new feature gets implemented.

This is meant to be a living document that will be updated as new versions come out and corrections brought to light. If you are aware of any discrepancies or are aware of an Autodesk version or other source that has created a more comprehensive version of this list, I would love to hear about it.

Download AutoCAD Features by Version PDF

Send any comments or questions to:


Taking CTRL in AutoCAD

Taking shortcuts in life will sometimes come back to bite you. But there are some areas in life where shortcuts come in handy and make you more productive.  In AutoCAD there are shortcut keys that you can use to increase your speed and productivity.  Many old-time CADD jockeys are very familiar with using shortcut keys either through CTRL keys and Function keys or through the ACAD.PGP file.

If you are one of the newer generations CADD Jedis that were trained in AutoCAD to do 95% of your work with mouse points and clicks – A faster way there is!   You may think you’re pretty productive that way, but adding in some shortcut keys can further improve your performance.

In this post I’m going to show the CTRL keys that are probably the most commonly used:

CTRL 1:     Toggles the Properties Palette

CTRL C:     Copies objects to the Windows clipboard

CTRL F:     Toggle running object snaps

CTRL L:     Toggles Orthomode

CTRL N:     Creates a new drawing

CTRL O:     Displays the Open Dialog

CTRL P:     Displays the Plot Dialog

CTRL S:     Saves the current drawing

CTRL Shift S: Displays the save as dialog box

CTRL V:     Paste data from windows clipboard

CTRL shift V: Pastes data from windows clipboard as a block (Use this sparingly)

CTRL X:     Cuts objects from the current drawing to the Windows clipboard

CTRL Z:     Reverse the last action (UNDO)

Some other shortcuts that are Non-CTRL keys:

F1:   Displays help

F2:   Toggles the text window (Very helpful when troubleshooting)

F3:   Toggles Osnap

F8:   Toggles Orthomode

Note that CTRL C, X, and V and F1 should be part of your everyday Windows toolkit. You can use this in all your office apps and most any program that allows copying, pasting and cutting – it is nearly universal. No more sliding up to the Edit menu and selecting copy, paste or cut.

As with the CTRL keys above these are not the only shortcut keys available in AutoCAD but more of a sampling of the ones I think that will help increase your productivity.

If you’re looking for a way to boost your performance try taking CTRL of AutoCAD. In a future post I’ll talk about ACAD.PGP file which takes shortcut keys to a whole other level.

I would be curious to know how many people are already using these keys regularly – drop me an email if you are and which ones you find most useful.