Object Properties at Your Fingertips (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

31 Oct, 2008 By: Lynn Allen

Reduce repetition with the Quick Properties tool and Rollover Tooltips feature in AutoCAD 2009.

The Properties palette is definitely one of the most used tools in AutoCAD. (I think mine is actually starting to rub off a little.) Why is that? Because we spend much of our AutoCAD day searching for information about our objects or editing their properties. Being wise to this repetitive motion, Autodesk introduced the Quick Properties tool in AutoCAD 2009. For those of you who want to be incredibly efficient, you can customize this tool to suit your particular drawing needs. And incidentally you should do that — all of you. Anyone can easily customize this incredibly useful tool for maximum productivity.

This month we will take a look at the new Quick Properties tool as well as the fancy new Rollover Tooltips. Both are easy to use and customizable, and both are incredibly powerful.

Rollover Tooltips
The new Rollover Tooltips feature won't go unnoticed for long in AutoCAD 2009. As you move your cursor over objects, basic information will automatically display regarding the object. The information displayed is completely customizable per object. If for some reason you don't care for this cool feature, you can also turn it off. (But promise me you'll give it the good old college try first, please!)

Simply hovering over any object will display object property information in AutoCAD 2009.

Quick Properties
The Quick Properties tool was deemed so important that it went straight to the Status Bar (do not pass Go!). Not just any old tool can hang out on the Status Bar; they have to be deemed worthy by the AutoCAD gods.

Quick Properties can be easily found on the status bar.

Whereas the Rollover Tooltips simply provide you with object information, Quick Properties actually allows you to modify that information. Highlight any object with Quick Properties on, and you will see a small box of editable information appear near your cursor. Quick Properties, by default, displays the most commonly used properties for an object (as decided by the AutoCAD team) and is an abbreviated version of the standard Properties palette. The object properties displayed for each object type is completely customizable in the CUI.

Quick Properties displays editable object information.

Selecting the arrow in the lower left corner of the palette will expand the box and reveal additional editable object information. Should you select more than one object, Quick Properties will display the common properties of all the selected objects.

You can control many things about Quick Properties. A right click on the QP button brings you to a shortcut menu where you can select Settings. This will bring you to a new tab in the Drafting Settings dialog box for Quick Properties.

The new Quick Properties tab in the Drafting Settings dialog box allows further control over the way Quick Properties operates.

In this new tab you'll find that you can turn Quick Properties on or off here as well. (But why when it is so very much faster to simply hit the toggle button on the status bar?) You'll also see that you can use the key combination of Ctrl + Shift + P to turn on and off Quick Properties (which does require a small amount of hand coordination). For those of you who use the popular tool Snag-it, you probably use that same key combination to capture a screenshot. Incidentally, if this is the case, Snag-it will win.

Here you can also instruct Quick Properties to display all objects or only those defined in the CUI command (which we'll get to later on in this article). You can choose to have Quick Properties follow your cursor around (which it does by default) or assign it to float at a specific position on your screen. If you choose the Cursor mode, you can also choose your preferred quadrant to reside in (top-right — the default, top-left, lower-right, or lower-left). You even have control over the distance, in pixels, you want Quick Properties to display from your cursor. It can actually be a little annoying when it pops up right next to your cursor, and many users prefer to have it statically float at the same position on the screen.

Last, in the Size section, you can toggle the Auto-Collapse on or off and control the number of rows you want to display. If you heavily customize this feature, you may want to increase the number of rows that display or even turn the Auto-Collapse off. Just realize this could take up a fair amount of screen real estate when activated.

Many of these same options are available from the Options button found in the upper right corner of the Quick Properties palette.

The Options button allows you to control the display of Quick Properties.

Customizing Quick Properties
This brings us to customizing Quick Properties, which can be launched from the palette by selecting the Customize button.

The Customize button sends you straight to the CUI.

Now I realize that some of you shy away from the CUI because it can be a little intimidating. I believe everyone will find that customizing Quick Properties, however, is very simple and even the novice user should be able to figure it out (with a little help from me). Ignore the left half of the CUI dialog and focus on the right half, and you'll be a little less intimidated. The figure below displays exactly what I would see if I selected the Customize button while Quick Properties was focused on a polyline.

It is easy to customize Quick Properties in the CUI command.

Now on the right side of the CUI, you'll see that Polyline is highlighted and a variety of object properties are selected with check marks. Simply choose the object properties that you want displayed in Quick Properties whenever a polyline is selected. The choice is yours. For example, if you often find yourself wanting to know the area of closed polylines, then area would be a great addition. You can change the selected object properties easily at any time. You will need to set up each object (all can be done right here in the CUI), so initially this could take you some time. But it is time well spent as you'll have the perfect Quick Properties setup for maximum productivity!

Customizing Roll-over Tooltips
You can also set up the Roll-over Tooltips in the CUI. Use the exact same process.

Select Rollover Tooltips in the CUI to customize the object information for each object type.

If you'd like to sync your Rollover Tooltips with your settings for Quick Properties, simply right-click. If you'd like to start over with the defaults, you can do that here as well for both tools.

Quickly sync Rollover Tooltips with Quick Properties or restore the defaults from the shortcut menu.

Take the time to set up your Quick Properties for maximum productivity. As you are drawing throughout the day, note the object properties you find yourself using the most in your regular routine. These should be put into your Quick Properties for speedy access. There is so much you can do here to improve your everyday drawing life with AutoCAD — and with very little work!

Until next month, happy AutoCADing!

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