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Quick Access Toolbar in AutoCAD

Let’s discuss the Quick Access Toolbar in AutoCAD or as many refer to it as the QAT. I had fun writing an article about the Quick Access Toolbar which can be found published in AUGIWorld November 2016. Seems like a long time ago but all of the principals still apply. This bar can be customized per workspace and can be very helpful to you while you work in different disciplines.

The Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable toolbar that contains a set of commands that are independent of the tab on the ribbon that is currently displayed. You can move the Quick Access Toolbar above and below the ribbon. Let’s review what I wrote and I have attached a video describing how you can create several different QAT’s linking those to alternate workspaces. Using the CUI (customizable user interface) you can create several QAT’s and attach those to different workspaces to help keep you productive in your workflow.

Check out this Screencast (click Image) on how to add the layer combo control bar  to your QAT and give it a longer length.

That’s all for now.  I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great weekend wherever in the World you may be.

I will post about Autodesk University in more detail in the coming weeks.  Both of my classes have sold out quickly so Thank you!

Click the links below to learn more about my sessions which are both hands-on-labs this year. It’s going to be fun!

Until next time or at Autodesk University……….Sam

Autodesk University 2019 – My Class Proposals

The annual Call for Proposals  for Autodesk University closed on Monday June 25, 2019 with record setting numbers. When the deadline arrived, Autodesk received over 2000 proposals from people all over the world. I decided not promote my classes during the proposal voting process. I understand why this is done since AU is about you and with this in mind we all want to see presentations that will inspire us to continue to improve and grow in our professional career. I decided to let the proposals get voted on the content and objectives which is how I approach my class selection.

My primary focus again this year is on AutoCAD and Civil 3D. Of course I am going to take sheet sets to the lab again. After how much fun we had last year (you had to be there) it was worth another try. I believe in hard work and dedication and that will show in what I present.

My proposed classes: All images below contain links for additional information.

Exploring Advanced Topics in the Lab with the Sheet Set Manager

This class will be a Hands on LAB. We are all at different levels of using the Sheet Set Manager and the best way to present in a lab is to separate this into multiple exercises. There will be approximately 15 exercises in this class. We will not go through all of them due to time but the dataset and handout will be available for you to take back and practice at the office when you get home. This is an extremely valuable and important topic that drafters, designers, and managers need to understand.

Staying Productive with Plan and Production in Civil 3D

I have learned some new tricks on this topic I presented in 2018. Join me for a class on how to make it easy to automate sheet layouts in Civil 3D.

Using Civil 3D to Make your Mark with a Map Book

I recently had a project in Civil 3D where I just needed tiled viewports of a large area and a key map. Civil 3D is built upon Map 3D therefore we will use the built in functionality of Map to create a Map Book then tie that into a sheet set.

Making the transition from AutoCAD to Civil 3D

Many people believe that if you know AutoCAD you also know Civil 3D and can make a quick transition.  This class will focus on what I have learned from a personal experience as well as training others on how to think differently and use the power that Civil 3D has to offer.  We will explore points, styles, profiles, alignments and other tools and compare the differences between AutoCAD and Civil 3D helping you think differently on how you approach your design project.

Investigate how to use and implement the CAD Standards Manager in the Lab

Nuff said – CAD Standards.  Let’s discuss how a tool that has been around for years can help you maintain and keep your company standards. This year let’s go to the lab and use the CAD Standards Manager to help us check and maintain standards within your design team.

You ask why I do this? I do this because I feel I need to share what I know. I have been working in the industry for a long time and realize you can’t do it alone, we all need help, mentorship, and guidance along the way.  I have many friends who I see once a year which is awesome. Words can’t explain the respect and friendship we share.

My employer, Haley & Aldrich sees the value of continued learning and development and we share what we know within our design team and throughout the company.
We currently have some opening for CAD designers and Engineers – check out those positions here

I hope to see you all in Vegas again – I plan to be there and if you see me don’t hesitate to talk to me or ask a question.

Get Ready for Autodesk University 2019

Enjoy the rest of your weekend wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month………..Sam


Center Marks and Centerlines in AutoCAD

AutoCAD 2020 is here and there are still some useful routines that have been introduced in previous versions yet not fully implemented into our workflow. With AutoCAD 2017 a couple simple yet favorite commands of mine are the Centerline and Center Mark commands which you can add to existing geometry.

Type CENTERLINE or CENTERMARK at the command prompt or on the Ribbon – Annotate Tab – Centerline panel, select the Center Mark or Centerline as shown below.  By selecting the image you will be taken to the knowledge network showing an article on these commands.


These center lines and center marks will remain associated with the objects you selected when they were created. These lines are linked together, therefore changing the position of the original geometry the centerline and center mark geometry will change to reflect the updated position. The following video shows the two objects that are associated with the Centerline. Notice when I move the outer lines the centerline retains it’s position and remains in the center of the two lines regardless of whether I move and/or stretch the associated objects.

The Center Mark command will put center marks on a circle or arc. This command creates a cross-shaped mark at the center of a selected circle or arc shown in the quick video.

These Center Marks will have properties associated to each of those as shown in the window in the upper right of the image which can be found on the properties palette. Select the Center mark and hit CTRL+1 to see the properties palette and located the geometry section. You can control the distance, size, and display of the objects by using the properties palette as shown.

Let’s review from the image shown below with the numbers representing the geometry as shown on the properties palette in the upper right of the image.

  1. Cross Size: this will control the size of the cross
  2. Cross Gap: the gap between the cross and where the extension line begins.
  3. Left Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.
  4. Right Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.
  5. Top Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.
  6. Bottom Extension: Distance from the grip on the end of the circle to the end of the line.


7.  Show Extension: This determines if you just get the cross or the extension lines. You have the ability to turn on and off.  The following video shows what this switch does.

These two new commands can be very helpful when creating detail sheets for projects as well as locating and maintaining the Centerlines of objects in AutoCAD.

Prior to publishing this tip, I noticed Jaiprakash Pandey – SouceCAD had previously posted on this very topic. Please take a look at his article as well as it provides additional information on the use of these new tools in AutoCAD. Take time to visit his website as he has a very large amount of AutoCAD tips, tricks, and training materials to help you as you work in AutoCAD.



Select Similar in AutoCAD and Civil 3D

For the past several weeks I have been placed on projects using AutoCAD and Civil 3D. I found myself working through drawings making edits and incorporating changes along the way. About a week ago I realized that my favorite command MATCHPROP (match properties) just may not be my favorite anymore. I found myself using SELECT SIMILAR frequently throughout my checking and editing process. Let’s explore how this command works.

The Select Similar command will select objects with shared properties and works like this:

  1. Select an object that represents the category of objects you want to select (we selected the text).
  2. Right-click, and choose Select Similar.

You will notice that the objects that are similar become part of your current selection set (shown with the blue grips). You can now use the Properties palette (CTRL+1; shown below in the red box) and change the properties of all these objects at once – a big time saver.
In this case the fonts are not all consistent with our standard and all we have to do is change the style in the window.
What if I want to change what the command searches for?

With no objects selected, enter SELECTSIMILAR.

Enter se (settings) or you can just select at the command prompt.

In the Select Similar Settings dialog box, select the properties that must match for objects to be selected. These settings can be setup within the template file you are using for your company standard.

If no properties are selected, objects of the same type (for example, all lines) are selected.

Note: If you want to select different types of objects that share properties like color or line type, use Quick Select. Type Qselet at the command prompt and you have the option to filter through object settings as shown in the dialog box.
Please see the attached ScreenCast showing the Select Similar command.
I wanted to conclude and wish each and all the moms out there a Happy Mother’s Day!
Enjoy your Sunday, you deserve it!
Until next time……..Sam

Using the AutoCAD Startup Suite as your Briefcase

We all have things that we take to work each day. Many years ago….NO, not in a galaxy far far away (Hey, I am not that old!) I had a briefcase I absolutely loved and took every day to work carrying some of my favorite drafting and design tools. I now have converted over to a backpack where I use to travel back and forth to the office as well as being my trusty carry on during flights across the country. That briefcase and now my backpack hold all my own favorite tools which I may need to use to do my job. The Startup Suite in AutoCAD is just like a briefcase or backpack carrying those tools you need and having that right by your side as you work each day.

One of the easiest ways to make sure your favorite tools are loaded in AutoCAD without any customization is adding those to the startup suite. The Startup Suite dialog box list the AutoLISP routines you are currently loaded.

You can access the startup suite by typing APPLOAD at the command line or on the manage tab of the Ribbon select load application as shown below.

You will now see your briefcase located within the dialog box. Select the Contents button.

Within the window you will see all the applications that are loaded each time you launch AutoCAD.  Select the Add… button and the windows explorer window will open providing you the option to select any lisp files you would like to add to the suite. They will be in your briefcase each day and ready to use.

The one thing I like about the startup suite is that we all have commands that we like and use each day. I have a set of two letter shortcut lisp routines that I have become accustomed to. This is where you can still follow the standards of your company and add some tools that make the look and feel of what you do more familiar. What you have done is given yourself instant access to your tools!

You can add more than just lisp files – see the list below of file types you can add to your startup suite.

Note: You may get a warning that the routine is not in a trusted location.  Best practice to to place all those files in a secure location then add that to the trusted locations folder in your support path.

Have you ever heard of AUGI?  Free and online membership to a community of people just like you who answer questions, share ideas, and collaborate all over the world.  Join today, it’s Free!

Have a great weekend wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month or at Midwest University 2019………………..Sam

Be My AutoCAD Valentine

What is Valentines Day?

Well, I looked on Wikipedia what Valentine’s Day means and found some interesting information. Click on the image for a description about Valentine’s Day.

So you ask “What does this have to do with AutoCAD?”

This post focuses on how to create a custom linetype in AutoCAD incorporating already defined shapes via the Webdings font into your custom linetype. We are going to create a linetype using a heart shape. Keep in mind there are many different shapes within the Webdings and Wingdings fonts that are available for our use. These can easily be shared with your users providing a standard approach to linetypes.

Check out my video on how to create a Heart Shaped Linetype in AutoCAD for your favorite Valentine!

This past year at Autodesk University 2018 I presented a class on how to leverage linetypes in AutoCAD. Within the class we had objectives as shown. Look for me to post on that topic soon!  It’s been a busy start to 2019.

  • Learn how to identify, change, and create linetype definitions
  • Learn how to create custom linetypes using fonts and shapes
  • Learn how to create and compile a complex linetype library with shapes
  • Learn how to create a tool palette with custom linetypes loaded and properties defined

Select the image below to be taken to the presentation

Have a great week everyone!  Until next month or at Midwest University 2019 in March. I will be presenting two sessions this year at Midwest U. Staying Productive with Plan and Production in Civil 3D and Making your Mark with a Map book in Map 3D.

I have been working hard on my weekends to prepare for two exciting sessions using Map 3D and Civil 3D. We will work together to use these tools to help automate the process of creating sheets in Civil 3D and Map 3D.  Ending both of these with one of my favorite subjects – The Sheet Set Manager.

Have a great rest of the week wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month….



Remove Layout1 and Layout2 tabs in AutoCAD

Do you every get annoyed by those default layout tabs in AutoCAD?  Why are they there? Can I remove them? I always instruct my users to rename the layout tabs (right-click-rename) to an appropriate name and/or remove if they are not used.  Here is a trick on how to remove those tabs using a macro placed on a tool palette.

The default setting in AutoCAD will display a Model Space Tab along with a Layout1 (1) and Layout2 (2) tabs as shown in the image below. The Model tab represents model space which is where you draft and design the model of your project. The Layout tab represents the paper space environment where you create layouts typically including title blocks, general notes, and a window of items drawn in model space.


First of all, you cannot delete the Model Tab; that is default by AutoCAD and used to create your model or geometry. The Layout tabs are paper space tabs added by default to assist you as you begin your project. When adding a new drawing or a template (3) you may see the following appear with Layout1 and Layout2 still visible. We want to delete those but do it quickly. You can select the image for additional information on switching between the Model Space and Layout tabs.


To delete a layout tab manually you right click the layout and select delete. That’s a lot of picks and clicks. Notice all of the options included when you right-click. You can rename, create a new layout, insert a new layout from a template (HINT: does not have to be a .dwt file). Select the image below to be taken to a knowledge based article on importing layouts from a template. I like clean drawings and require my users to delete these tabs, rename, and cleanup while on a design project.


Let’s create a macro to remove those tabs and cleanup your drawings. The easiest way for us to create and use a macro is on a tool palette. Open up any tool palette right click in the palette area and hit New Palette as shown. This will bring up a new blank palette in AutoCAD.


Next, we need to get a command in there. There are a few ways to do this but in my experience type CUI at the command prompt and type the word “delete” (Step 1). I want to look for a command which I can also use the icon (or edit) so it represents something similar to what I am trying to accomplish. Left click and drag the command (Step 2) onto the tool palette as shown. At this point we are just getting the command in there with the images.


After the command has been added to the palette, right click the icon and select properties. We are now going to complete 5 steps as shown below. Actually only 4 since we already have our image in there.

  1. Drag the command from the CUI onto the tool palette.
  2. Rename the name of the command for the user to understand the objective.
  3. Give a brief description of what the command does. PLEASE give a description, it helps for the next guy or gal that goes in there and launches your new command.
  4. The most important step.  We need to change the MACRO.  We will review in detail below.
  5. The image. If you did not import an image from the CUI or another button you can right-click and specify your own image. Keep in mind there is a dark and light theme in AutoCAD which means you need to check the appearance of the image for both. I know, one extra step now but I do like the dark theme.


In AutoCAD macros can be shortcuts to a series of commands to help make the process of design more efficient. In Figure 1 a macro is stated as a single instruction. Use the action recorder to record a series of commands and build a macro then run it automatically to repeat a series of steps. To write a macro, you type the commands in the macro properties section as you’d type them in at the command line. If a command displays a dialog box, you would place a dash in front of the command to suppress the dialog box. We will cover special characters as we begin to build our macro. Let’s examine our Delete Layout Macro.


^C^C  Cancels the current command in AutoCAD – Do it twice!

^R    Turns command versioning on or off. We need this when working with Layouts.

_Layout   Issues the layout command.

;   The semi-colon represents a return on the keyboard. You can also enter a space here but I recommend the semi-colon which you can clearly identity the action.

d   Delete the layout.

_Layout1  Deletes Layout1

The macro then continues to delete another layout named layout2. If you only have layout1 in your drawing it will be deleted and no other action will be taken.  The following ScreenCast will show you how this command works, the video is from a previous version of AutoCAD but will still work with the most current version.

It’s goal setting time at work and in my opinion never too early to set a goal to attend Autodesk University 2019 in November of this year.

Set a goal that if you meet all of your targets for the year you would like to attend the premier CAD conference in the World. You company may reward you with the ability to learn and network with your peers and create new connections along they way – like me 🙂

Until next time…..Sam

Autodesk University 2018 and a QAT AutoCAD Tip

I am off to Las Vegas again to present at Autodesk University 2018. I have been fortunate enough to have my proposals selected and have the opportunity to present again at the conference. I will be teaching and lab assisting as well as attending classes just like everyone else. I learn so much by teaching and the networking with my friends and peers is something I cannot explain. This time of year is a special time for me to connect with the industry find out what is new, what I am doing right, and what I should be doing. An all inclusive learning experience.

I am very excited about all 3 classes I am presenting. I really don’t have a favorite (OK, maybe I do). I am ready and have been for some time now. I have been practicing on the weekends and nights and recording the sessions. I need to do this to be prepared. Something always happens but I always look at this as a learning opportunity for all. If a command or a piece of code does not react the way you want to – then fix it and show your team (or audience) how this is done. I approach my work sessions as I do these at AU.

I have recently been added to a CAD Manager Panel which is an honor to sit next to some of the best in the business. I am the new guy to the group and honored to be there.

This class is about the experiences of a panel of diverse CAD managers who are widely respected as leaders in their field. Hear their unique perspectives and solutions to challenges faced by CAD managers from organizations of all sizes and backgrounds. Topics include understanding CAD standards, keeping up with rapidly changing technology, managing users, communicating with management and other nontechnical people, budgeting, and much more.

How about a CAD Tip before I go?

Let’s discuss the Quick Access Toolbar in AutoCAD or as many refer to it as the QAT. I had fun writing an article about the Quick Access Toolbar which can be found published in AUGIWorld November 2016. Seems like a long time ago but all of the principals still apply. This bar can be customized per workspace and can be very helpful to you while you work in different disciplines.

The Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable toolbar that contains a set of commands that are independent of the tab on the ribbon that is currently displayed. You can move the Quick Access Toolbar above and below the ribbon. Let’s review what I wrote and I have attached a video describing how you can create several different QAT’s linking those to alternate workspaces. Using the CUI (customizable user interface) you can create several QAT’s and attach those to different workspaces to help keep you productive in your workflow.

Check out this Screencast on how to add the layer combo control bar  to your QAT and give it a longer length.

That’s all for now.  I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great weekend wherever in the World you may be.

Until next month….or after AU…..or after the holidays……Sam

Import and Convert Text from a PDF in AutoCAD

As CAD managers, drafters, and designers, we all need at some point to look at a pdf file, import the file, and in some instances use and edit the text as well. This post will show you how to convert SHX font geometry to text after importing a PDF file in AutoCAD. You ensure good text recognition by specifying the SHX font name used. Unlike other fonts, SHX fonts import as lines, arcs, circles, and other geometry instead of text.

PDF files are the most common file format used when exchanging design information between designers, contractors, clients, and others. AutoCAD 2017 introduced the ability to import PDF files. The PDFIMPORT command imports PDF data into AutoCAD as 2D geometry, TrueType text, and images.

Let’s first import the data. On the insert tab of the Ribbon select the PDF Import button.

Notes: Adobe’s PDF file format doesn’t recognize AutoCAD SHX fonts. When a PDF file is created from an AutoCAD drawing, text that was defined with SHX fonts is stored in the PDF as geometry. When you import the file you get lines and arcs that define the text object. With AutoCAD 2018 you have a new text recognition tool that enables you to select imported PDF geometry representing SHX text and convert it to text objects. You can find this on the import tab of the Ribbon as shown.

After selecting the file you will see the Import PDF dialog box where you will have several options on how you want the file to be imported.

  1. PDF data to import: Options to select how your data will import.
  2. Do you want layers?
  3. Preview of the imported file.
  4. Import options – several options for blocks, hatches, and lineweights.
  5. Alternate options for importing the file
  6. Select OK.

Once you drawing is imported follow the workflow on the ribbon. Here is where you can recognize the SHX Text, Change Settings and Combine Text.

Here is a quick Video showing you how to import a PDF file into AutoCAD and then Recognize the SHX text changing those lines to editable text objects.

That’s all my friends – enjoy the rest your weekend and I will see you in Vegas at Autodesk University 2018!  This may be my last post for a while as I have to study, prepare, and practice on my weekends and nights while also spending time with my family and friends.

Have a great rest of the weekend and start to your week wherever in the World you may be!

Until next month, Sam

Midwest University 2018

I know, it’s August and I am finally writing this post. I wanted to write about a conference I attended in March of this year. I was very thankful I was able to travel to Minnesota to speak, learn, and network with my peers in the AEC industry.

Midwest University 2018 is one of North America’s largest professional development conferences focused solely on the AEC industry where attendees learn about new and emerging technologies. It is held at Mystic Lake Hotel and Casino, in Prior Lake, Minnesota

I was fortunate enough to present a class on Plan Production Tools in Civil 3D. My class ended up being in the top 10 which makes all the effort worthwhile.

Midwest University is a short two-day event held in March of each year. The general sessions and networking opportunities allow you to share ideas and insights with your peers, network with experts in your field, and explore the latest trends and technologies.

Think of Midwest University as a smaller version of Autodesk University. Each day started with a General Session, followed by two classes before lunch. After lunch there were four more class slots, user group meetings and a social mixer. What I enjoyed the most was the small class size and you sit at a table where you can spread out your stuff! If you guys know me I like to have all sorts of papers and notes around me when I work. The classes were limited to 45 minutes which go by very quickly. There are over 160 classes, ~500 attendees, 1 social mixer, 2 general sessions, 20 exhibitors, Sophia, and 1 exhibit hall.

The staff of CAD Technology Center, who puts on this conference was well prepared and very helpful. If you are interested in attending in 2019, go to the Midwest U website link and sign up for email updates to attend.

I did have the opportunity to meet an AI robot named Sophia while I was there!  I was very determined to get my photo with her.  I hope to attend again next year and possibly speak on topics within the AEC industry.

If you are looking for a smaller conference with a similar feel to Autodesk University, then Midwest University is the conference for you.

On a final note, I will be teaching this year at Autodesk University!!! – If you would like to learn more about Plan Production in Civil 3D, Managing Sheet Sets in the Lab, and Leveraging those linetypes in AutoCAD then look me up. I am very excited about these classes; I plan to make them fun and informative.

I have an article coming out in AUGIWorld in the September issue on Tables – be sure to check it out and if you are not a member of AUGI – join today – great way to network with your peers.

Until next month – maybe sooner with a CAD tip – Sam