Capture the Perfect Selection Set in AutoCAD (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

2 Feb, 2009 By: Lynn Allen

QSelect quickly gathers and counts your objects of choice.

We all know how to obtain a selection set of objects by manually selecting them onscreen. But what if you wanted a selection set of a certain type of object, such as text or a block? Or what if you wanted to take that one step further and wanted a selection set of all the text objects of a certain height or all the blocks with a certain name? Two commands allow you to filter objects by their properties: the ancient (but very powerful) Filter command and the newer (and friendlier) QSelect command.

I'm going to focus on the low-stress QSelect command for this installment of "Circles and Lines," but for those brave souls out there, feel free to take a look at the Filter command. The Filter command is nearly top secret nowadays; you won't find it in any menus or toolbars, so you'll have to key it in.

QSelect (short for Quick Select) first entered the AutoCAD world through the Properties palette (figure 1). It is just as easy to access it directly from the Tools menu or by keying it in at the Command prompt. Unless I am missing something, this powerful tool does not reside in the AutoCAD 2009 ribbon.

Figure 1. Easily access QSelect from the Properties palette.
Figure 1. Easily access QSelect from the Properties palette.

So let's say I wanted to find all the blocks called Door in my drawing. Using QSelect, I can specify to search the entire drawing. Select Block Reference from the Object Type drop-down menu as well as Name from the list of block properties. I want to find all the blocks that have a name equal to Door, so I'll select "=" as the operator, and, finally, I'll use the drop-down menu to select the name Door. Figure 2 shows the selections needed to find all the Door blocks in an entire drawing.

Figure 2. QSelect makes it easy to filter specific objects in a drawing.
Figure 2. QSelect makes it easy to filter specific objects in a drawing.

I want to include all the door blocks in a new selection set, so I will use the default and finally, an OK button will highlight all the door blocks as well as do a handy count — so powerful! At this point, I can enter the appropriate editing command or use the Properties menu to make changes to the selected objects.

If you want QSelect to search a specific group of objects, as opposed to an entire drawing, you can do so by manually picking the Select Objects button in the upper-right corner of the dialog box. You also can select objects first and then enter the command to get the same results.

So what if you want to select all the door blocks that have a rotation angle of 90 degrees? Unfortunately, QSelect only lets you apply one filter at a time (unlike the more stellar Filter command). You can, however, re-enter the QSelect command and apply a second filter to the existing selection set. Just make sure the Apply To option is set to Current Selection. You can repeat this process as many times as you need.

The Operator option gives you increased power in the selection process. You could select all the text that is less than ⅛". Or you could select all blocks that are not rotated 90 degrees. (You would use Not Equal.) All these parameters can be controlled by choosing the proper operator, as figure 3 shows. You'll even find an operator called Wildcard Match that allows you to use wild cards such as * to select, for example, all the blocks that have names starting with "D" (D*) or mtext objects that contain the text "bolt."

Figure 3. Choosing the correct operator ensures you have the right selection set.
Figure 3. Choosing the correct operator ensures you have the right selection set.

And what if you just need to perform an old-fashioned object count? You'll notice that whenever you complete the QSelect command, it reports back the number of objects selected. To count all the objects in the drawing, you wouldn't apply any filters at all.

Imagine the possibilities! Use QSelect when you need to change all the rotation angles of the block called Circuit to 90 degrees or you need to change all the ⅛" text to ¼". You can get as granular as you want; for example, you can select all the text on the Notes layer that has a text style of Anno1 and includes the characters PT.

I think you'll find that the very powerful QSelect command is easy to use and ultimately will save you loads of time. Until next time: Happy AutoCADing!

Lynn Allen, Autodesk Technical Evangelist, speaks to more than 30,000 users worldwide each year. She has written Cadalyst's "Circles and Lines" column for 16 years and is the voice behind Cadalyst's popular AutoCAD video tips. She began using AutoCAD software with Release 1.4 more than 20 years ago and taught at the corporate and collegiate levels for 13 years before joining Autodesk. A sought-after public speaker with a unique comedic style, she is the host of Autodesk University and always one of the event's highest-rated speakers. She has written three AutoCAD books; the latest is titled AutoCAD Professional Tips and Techniques.

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