Random AutoCAD Tips and Tricks for All, Part II (Circles and Lines AutoCAD Tutorial)

30 Sep, 2008 By: Lynn Allen

Good advice to make you more productive.

While I'm in the tips and tricks mood, I thought I'd share a few more random AutoCAD Tips. So far my AutoCAD University class, "90 AutoCAD Tips in 90 Minutes," has the highest sign-ups of any AU class, so I figure I must be onto something! So without further ado...

What Can You Do at the Command Line?
We are programmed to use the Command line simply to key in commands, but we actually do have other options. My favorite is AutoComplete. Let's say you can't quite remember how to spell a certain command or system variable. Key in the first couple of characters, and hit the Tab key. You will see that AutoCAD cycles through all of the command and system variable names that start with those characters each time you press the Tab key. When it gets to the one you want, simply hit the Enter key and you are on your way!

You can also use the arrow keys to recall previous commands. Hitting the Up arrow key will go backward through the commands you have already executed. The Down arrow will go forward. Sometimes I spell a system variable incorrectly (and AutoCAD reminds me with that "unknown command" comment we all dislike seeing). Hit the Up arrow key once to recall the misspelled command and correct the spelling rather than rekey in the entire command. The Up arrow key is also valuable in recalling a line of code in AutoLISP where you may have made an error. What else can you do at the Command line? A right-click will produce the shortcut menu. Here you'll find a listing of your recently used commands and a shortcut to the Options command.

A right-click at the Command line will display this shortcut menu.

Maybe you prefer not to work with the Command line at all. (I shudder at the thought!) Did you know that Ctrl + 9 closes the Command line window? How do you get it back? Simply type Ctrl + 9 again.

Glue Objects Together
Let's say you have two overlapping lines, one on top of the other, and you'd like to have one continuous line. Or perhaps there's a bit of a gap between the two collinear lines and you'd like one continuous line. The Join command does the job. Use the Join command to glue together polylines, lines, arcs, elliptical arcs, and splines (no gaps allowed when the objects are not the same object type). You can join more than one arc, even with gaps, as long as they lie in the same imaginary circle. And if you've ever tried to turn an arc into a circle by changing the number of degrees to 360, you know that AutoCAD still thinks you have an arc with 360 degrees. (What's up with that?) You'll find that the Join command, however, will allow you to turn an arc into a real circle (fabulous!).

Too Many Layer Filters
Without a doubt, too many layer filters in a drawing can really slow you down. But you didn't put them there, so where did they come from? If you have a lot of external references (xrefs) in your drawing, then that is more than likely your culprit. I often wonder if other people are having a layer filter party — just adding as many filters as possible to their drawings! You xref in their drawings and presto, you get all their filters as well.

AutoCAD has a system variable that can protect you from just such a situation: LAYERFILTERALERT. I must warn you, however, that the proper setting is essential when using this system variable. LAYERFILTERALERT comes to life and warns you when you have 100 or more layer filters or when you have more filters than layers. That would be like having more folders on your computer than files!

When LAYERFILTERALERT is set to 0, nothing happens. When it is set to 1, LAYERFiLTERALERT kicks in (whenever either of the two above scenarios occurs) and immediately deletes all of your layer filters. A setting of 1 is a little too violent for me — what if you wanted to keep a few of those filters? A setting of 2 is a little better; when LAYERFILTERALERT jumps into action, it will alert you and then ask if you want to delete all of your layers (an improvement).

My favorite setting for LAYERFILTERALERT is 3. With that setting you will be alerted when you have too many layers and AutoCAD will display the Delete Layer Filters dialog box. Then you can decide which layer filters to keep and which to delete. This setting is definitely ideal.

The Delete Layer Filters dialog box displays when LAYERFILTERALERT set to a value of 3.

If you'd like to cut to the chase, you can type the word Filters on the Command line to get to the same dialog box. This is definitely a top-secret command; it isn't even mentioned in the Help file. If your drawing file is dragging along, you might want to check out your layer filters to see if that is the culprit.

Needless Pedit Prompt
We often use the Pedit command to turn ordinary lines and arcs into polylines. But whenever we select a line or arc in the Pedit command, AutoCAD comes back with that irritating prompt:

Object selected is not a polyline Do you want to turn it into one? <Y>

Of course we know the object selected is not a polyline, and of course we want to turn it into one. If you find this extra prompt a waste of your valuable time, then be sure to set the system variable PEDITACCEPT to 1. This will disable that extra prompt and immediately turn the object(s) into a polyline — hoorah!

Think about these random AutoCAD tips as you go about your everyday AutoCAD drawing life. I'm sure one or more will come in handy. Until next month, happy AutoCADing!

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