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AutoCAD Productivity Articles - 2012


December - 10 x… a Lot!

Celebrating 10 YearsWhen I first did that (shameless) Google search on my name over ten years ago, I never thought it would come to this. 120 months x four tips per month = a lot of AutoCAD insights and tidbits, tips & tricks, customizing and basic, and the random buried treasure. Then there are the Left Field bits that I'll be compiling and including in the 2nd Edition of The AutoCAD Workbench (hopefully available at year's end).

As is the case most of the time, this month is mainly a collection of requests from customers…

…Set the 'No Plot' layer option from the QAT
…Changing a visible attribute's value without using the Attribute Editor
…Accomplishing a Fade with Transparency
…Clarifying the Lock options

Recent CAD Trainer Guy Updates

As far as social media goes, I have been encouraged to get on Twitter, so I'll be tweeting an AutoCAD tip every Tuesday & Thursday. It would be great to have you follow me at I may be using Twitter as a 'sticky note' to let you know what may be in an upcoming Corner.

Then, at Autodesk University last year, at the last minute I was asked to step in for Heidi Hewett who was under the weather, and Autodesk taped several short clips of AutoCAD tips. Although the videos have been out there for a while, my son just recently helped me get my own CAD Trainer Guy YouTube channel where I have re-posted them and will hopefully be adding more in 2013.

And, yes, I'm on LinkedIn,, and I invite all of you to join my network!

So this is a wrap for the 10th year of Michael's Corner, the production of which could only have been made possible by the kind invitation in 2003 from Professor David Watson to become a part of his CADTutor site. It has been an honor and a royal privilege to be a part of this cruise. Lord willing, we'll have an opportunity to meet face to face in 2013.

Wishing you all a glorious and safe Christmas season, and may the New Year be one in which we all become a wee bit better in all we do.

For an Image That's Path-Free — OLE!
Edit an Attribute Sans Editor
Mistaken Lock
Layer Fade with Transparency

November - Thankful for… Easy Customization!

Although I am thankful for many, many other things (including our son, Joshua, who's birthday was the 3rd), but professionally speaking, I'm very thankful that customizing AutoCAD is such fun, especially since I am not a VBA or a LISP master like my friends Ben and Lee. This month we take a look at more automation that can be parked up on the Quick Access Toolbar, along with some fundamentals that are less than intuitively obvious. So when you unpack this critter you will find…

…How to create a drop-down icon on the Quick Access Toolbar
…A trick to zooming out just a little since your wheel mouse can't be used for that anymore in A2013
…The setting you will need to invoke the new A2013 Strikethrough feature in single line text
…Where to find the setting to display the Polar angle value and vector when you use that feature

To all of you in or from the US of A, I want to wish you a glorious and Happy Thanksgiving, and may each and every one of us remember to count our blessings every day.

Add Your Own Drop-down Menu to the QAT
Create a QAT Button to Zoom / .9X
AutoCAD 2013 Strikethrough Character
Polar Tooltip & Vector

October - Here & There

I would really like to have the 2nd Edition of The AutoCAD Workbench ready for publication by my birthday. It will be close, but I'm not sure if I'll make it. (Friday, October 12th, for those of you wondering. Thank you.)

That's pretty much where I've been recently — "Here & There". I really enjoy seeing my regular customers and meeting new ones, but this year has been woven nicely with time at home. (Thank you, God.)

This month's offerings are courtesy of customer emails and onsite training requests.

…A Review (and hopefully 'clarification') of the Xclip feature
…A Solution to your Single-Screen Woes (if you have a Dual-Screen Setup at Work)
…Practical Application for the <Displacement> Option in the Move Command
…Using Search in DesignCenter to Find a Specific Layout Tab Name

I think you'll enjoy each of these insights and hopefully something in there will bring a smile to your face… along with a boost in your productivity!

Keep up the good work!

XCLIP Update
Toggle Your Window Back from a Dual Screen
Move with a <Displacement>
Using Search in Design Center to Find a Layout

September - Be Quicker

There's always something you can do to tweak some speed out of your system. Whether you're an Olympic athlete, a weekend mechanic, or just like to tinker with AutoCAD, there's always a way to get a wee bit more speed. This month we'll lift the hood of the Quick Access Toolbar, and we'll also identify a problem or two you may have encountered. Here's what's on tap:

…Accessing your Layout tab title blocks from the Quick Access Toolbar
…Adding a button to the QAT to automatically set a frequently-accessed layer to current
…Discover another setting for the INPUTHISTORYMODE that may come in handy
…Taming the Command line in AutoCAD 2013

It's been pretty toasty in the US, but the tomato harvest was pretty spectacular… and our friends and neighbors agreed! Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to cooler Fall temperatures, and I hope you find this month's collection of articles useful so you can get out and enjoy a bit more of the season!

Quick Access to your Layout Tabs
A Quick Access Button to Set a Layer
Input History Mode
More on the 2013 Command Line

August - Winning in London

I can only imagine that living, literally, ‘down the lane’ from an Olympic venue is nothing short of thrilling, so I'm sure our intrepid keeper of the CADTutor site, David Watson, found the London Olympics both inspiring and exciting. Although I'll do my best to keep Olympic references in check, this month's collection is a bit heavy on the ‘selection’ procedures in AutoCAD… as in selecting the best AutoCAD ‘athlete’ so you can be the most productive.

Our events this month include:

…A practical application for the Selection Cycling feature
…Settings to make Select Similar more specific
…Another solution to the ‘Disappearing Cursor’
…Negotiating the hurdles of REGENAUTO & SNAPANG

Hope these insights provide a bit of a boost so you can excel in your field… or track, or arena, or pool, or court, or…

PS — Just so you know, editing is complete on the first chapter of the 2nd Edition of The AutoCAD Workbench, and I'm about halfway through the second chapter. Those are the biggest chapters, so I'm hoping to have it published by October 1!

Selection Cycling Application
SELECTSIMILAR on the Command Line
Disappearing Cursor, Part II
Regenauto & Snapang

July - Whiz-Bangs & Congratulations

Sometimes when people are using AutoCAD, it can appear like it's all smoke and mirrors: "How did they DO that?"

Well, that's why they call it ‘Training’.

David Watson and I — David being the captain of this amazing CADTutor website — are in the business of education, and it thrills us both to be able to ‘turn the lights on’ for our customers and classes. We love to take what looks like Whiz-Bang and show folks how to it all works.

That said, I want to extend a hearty "Congratulations" to all those whose proposals were recently accepted for Autodesk University 2012, being held in Las Vegas November 27 – 29. AU is one big Whiz-Bang conference where top educators ‘turn the lights on’ for thousands of attendees. I opted out this year, but I heard from a couple of my close friends and was quite pleased to hear of the acceptance of their classes. Quite the honor, to be sure.

This months' Corner has a few Whiz-Bangs of its own, namely…

…How to use the 3D Gizmo to rotate objects in 3D
…A2013 updates to the Presspull command
…Uncovering the mystery of why a Solid hatch may not display
…Why you may want to use the As Displayed feature for a viewport

Hope you are all enjoying this season!

[And congratulations to my son, Joshua, who got all A's last quarter in his Digital Filmmaking courses at the Art Institute in Cincinnati!]

3D Rotate with the Rotate Gizmo
Presspull on an open Polyline
FILLMODE <1> for Solid Hatch
Visual Styles and ‘As Displayed’

June - Layers and Old-Timers

Sometimes I'll look back over what I wrote for any given month and find that I'm pulling from the same box of tricks. This month — in addition to showing a new feature in AutoCAD 2013 — I'm reaching back about 15+ years for some still-powerful dialog box-driven commands, as well as dipping into the always prolific arena of Layers. Here's what's in store this month:

…Customizing the Panel on your Ribbon to launch Rename
…Adding the setting for Background Mask to Quick Properties
…Uncovering the subtle VPFreeze setting when freezing layers in Viewports
…The new Preview feature in AutoCAD 2013 for Layer States

The other thing you'll notice in the is collection, is that 3 out of 4 of them can be used when working on drawings that didn't originate with you. And that's what I find is probably the most frustrating topic when you're working with AutoCAD. How to ‘fix’ someone else's drawing, if not to simply make it more to your liking.

Bottom line, it's all about being more productive. Now it's time for David and I to tend to our respective gardens, although my suspicion is that his contains more than just chili peppers and tomatoes like mine does.

Hope you all have a delightful summer… or whatever season is rolling in on your side of the planet!

Add Rename to a Panel's Dialog Box Launcher
Toggling the Background Mask in Quick Properties [QP]
VPFreeze in a Viewport
Layer States Preview in A2013

May - 30 Years of CAD

This month marks 30 years of my involvement with Computer Aided Design… and it's been quite a ride. Six continents, ten countries, and 40 states. Having worked in the architectural field in the Bay Area for 4 years after getting my Bachelor of Architecture degree at the University of Cincinnati, in May of 1982 I answered an ad in the San Jose Mercury News for an "Architectural CAD Trainer"… and here I am, 30 years later, still having a great time!

Needless to say, Computer Aided Design has come a really looooong way since I first touched a computer keyboard. Some of which are covered this month! Specifically…

…Autodesk 360 in AutoCAD 2013
…A more elegant way of importing a custom menu [CUI/CUIX]
…The problems that result if PICKFIRST is set to <0>
…Irregular viewports revisited

So here's to 30 more! (…although my traveling may be substantially reduced by that time.)

Autodesk 360 in A2013
Importing a Custom Tab into A2013
Irregular-Shaped Viewports

April - Small But Mighty

Anyone who's used AutoCAD for more than a week can tell you that you have to keep your eye on everything: Parameter grips on Dynamic Blocks, the presence of Layout tabs (or lack thereof), and the recently-included grip options in a shortcut menu.

They're all pretty small features, but the User Interface of AutoCAD is what enables us to bump our productivity up a notch. This month we'll look at each of those features, as well as the newly reinvigorated Command line. In a nutshell, this month's tools include:

…Understanding the new Command line in the newly-released AutoCAD 2013
…How to include a Rotation Parameter to make a Dynamic block
…Revealing where your Model and Layout tabs went if you happen to 'lose' them
…Using the multifunction grip on a Polyline to convert a segment to an arc

Hope you find these tools of productivity worthy of addition to your workbench!

AutoCAD 2013 Command Line Features
Rotation Parameter for a Dynamic Block
Display Layout and Model Tabs
Add an Arc to a Polyline

March - Customizing For Fun & Profit

OK, it may not be necessarily for 'Profit', but I think customizing is fun, and hopefully some of you will agree. After checking out these ideas, perhaps your productivity will go up, and you will 'profit' from some time-savings!

The topics from the trenches (I just made that up; you can use it) for this month include…

…Automating the 'No Island' setting for hatching on a Tool Palette
…Making a button on the QAT to set your favorite Osnap conditions
…Configuring the Ctrl + F keyboard shortcut to be more 'Windows-compliant'
…Using the Delete Duplicate Objects command to clean up your drawing

Hope you're looking forward to Spring as much as I am!

Change the Quick Preview in Hatch to ‘No Islands’
Change Ctrl + F to Find
Delete Duplicate Objects [Overkill]

February - Gotta Love Shortcuts

It's February, and love is in the air. You may love Winter (no comment), love horses, love skiing, love your significant other, love to read, love to fly Southwest Airlines, etc., but I think we can all agree: We all love AutoCAD shortcuts.

This month I reached back into the Corner vault to solve a couple issues that happened over the last 48 hours in my training seminars, and created some shortcut solutions using Lisp routines. My Lisp knowledge is extremely limited, but the little bit that I know – and that I'm passing along to you - can be extremely powerful. So here's what's in store for February 2012…

…Creating and automating several one-line Lisp routines
…Toggling the Selection Preview setting when you rollover an object in the drawing
…A possible solution for the disappearing cursor
…The Command line version of the Purge command

Give these a shot and I think you'll LOVE leaving the office just a wee bit earlier!

Quick Lisps
Rollover Toggle
Disappearing Cursor Solution
More Powerful Purge Command

January - Oh-One/One-Two

I'm sure there's a math major out there that could make something clever out of that sequence – like the next pair would be Two-Three – and some probably want to state it as 'Zero-One'. Bottom line, the point of the exercise was accomplished: Get you thinking about your new year, 2012!

Michael presenting at Autodesk University 2011To that end, this month has some tips I picked up at Autodesk University – although I did teach my Hands-On lab twice (shown here, photo courtesy of H. Hernandez, Southwest Airlines), I did attend several sessions – as well as a few from my customers, to wit…

…Fun with AutoCAD 2012 Applications from Autodesk Exchange
…Make a Dynamic Block by Adding a Rotation Parameter
…The somewhat inconspicuous View controls in A2012
…Random productivity features from my customers

Of course, I hope this finds you back on track, several days into the New Year, and looking forward to all that it has in store.

Forward and onward into the 10th year of Michael's Corner!

Autodesk Exchange Apps for AutoCAD
Adding a Rotation Parameter to a Block
A2012 View Controls
This Year, Resolve to Use…

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