Secret Right-Click Cursor Menus

31 Oct, 1998 By: Lynn Allen

Wandering through AutoCAD R14, I stumbled on a few extremely valuable right-click cursor menus. Realizing that where there's one there's probably many more, I set forth on a quest to uncover all of the cursor menus I could find, and you'd be surprised how many different cursor menus are lurking behind AutoCAD commands. Talking with my fellow users, I've come to realize that many of these cool menus are unknown to the average CAD operator. This month's article centers on these hidden treasures that can offer improved productivity.

What exactly is a right-click cursor menu? It's the cursor menu that appears on the screen whenever (and wherever) you hit the second button on your input device. If you're using a standard two-button system mouse, it would simply be the right button (hence the name!). These menus vary depending on where you are on the screen, as well as what command you happen to be in. Selecting an option off of a cursor menu is often much easier than keying in an option from the keyboard and doesn't require taking your eyes off the screen or your hand off your input device. Let's get started!

Cursor Menu #1
You may have noticed that two buttons were removed from the Layer dialog box in LT 97 and R14: Select All and Clear All. This change was quite frustrating to me at first, until I discovered they'd simply moved the buttons to a cursor menu. Try right clicking in the Layer dialog box and you'll happily see they're still easily accessible.

Cursor Menu #2
Do you find yourself jumping into the Preferences dialog box often? The quickest method to Preferences is right clicking over the command line, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Right-clicking over the command line makes it easy to get to the PREFERENCES command.

Here, you'll find the fast track to Preferences as well as options for Copying and Pasting. I admit I only use the Preferences option from this cursor menu (but I use it often!).

Cursor Menu #3
Right clicking in the Open dialog box is very powerful. Depending on where you are at any given time, you'll get different cursor menus. Select one of the files, right click and you'll be faced with the cursor menu shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Highlighting a filename and right-clicking in the Open dialog box displays this cursor menu.

Perhaps one of the most valuable options in this menu is the Print option-you can actually print from this dialog box. You'll also find that you can Zip files (if you've got WinZip installed), send files to disks, delete, rename and so forth. By selecting Properties, you can change a file's attributes and make it hidden or read-only. Don't bother selecting the Create Shortcut while in the Open dialog box-it will actually create a drawing file called Shortcut to dwgname.

Cursor Menu #4
If you haven't highlighted a file, right clicking displays the menu shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. An alternate cursor menu that displays in the OPEN command.

The View option controls this display. The Standard MFC options of large and small icons, list or details view appear in the flyout. Arrange Icons can be used to organize your drawing files by name, size, file type or date (type isn't too exciting since they're likely to all be DWG files). The New option makes it easy to create a new folder, but I didn't find many of the other options working from this particular flyout.

(Note: you'll find cursor menus in all of the new MFC dialog boxes, for example, SAVEAS, WFIN, EXPORT, PSIN and so on.)

Cursor Menu #5
If you're a Grips user (don't tell me you're not!), you'll appreciate the awesome cursor menu that's available for gripping. After selecting a hot grip, right click to display the cursor menu shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Right-clicking after selecting a hot grip displays this cursor menu.

The Grips cursor menu eliminates tedious command-line entries. Here you'll find the basic grip modes as well as their individual options, and an option that lets you quickly change the properties of the object(s) you've selected. You'll also find the absurd option of Go to URL.... This launches your Web browser if you have defined a URL for that object using the AutoCAD Internet Utilities. I'm sure this option is valuable for some, but I for one can't believe it merits residing on the Grips cursor menu (let me know if you feel differently!).

Cursor Menu #6
Hopefully you're a fan of the new REALTIME PAN and ZOOM commands. Sometimes, I find it restricting that it always zooms into the center of the display. Before R14, you had to manually bounce back and forth between PAN and ZOOM-now the cursor makes it only a pick away. Try right clicking while in RTZOOM and you'll find the cursor menu displayed in Figure 6.

Figure 6. If you right-click while in RTZOOM, you'll access the cursor menu shown here.

You'll find it easy to navigate between PAN and ZOOM. You'll also find the popular Zoom options of Zoom Window, Previous and Extents. It should be noted that the Zoom Previous option returns to the last full ZOOM command executed and not the last one selected within REALTIME ZOOMing. Kudos to the new Zoom Extents improvements. Now, you don't zoom completely to the outermost edge of the drawing, and they got rid of those evil regenerations!

Cursor Menu #7
Of course, there's always the old stand-by cursor menu you get by combining a Control with a right-click, as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7.The original cursor menu that displays the object snaps and point filters.

Here you'll find all of the object snap modes, tracking as well as the xy and z filters.

We've relied heavily on this menu for years to quickly snap to endpoints, midpoints and the like. With the new AutoSnaps, we haven't been using it quite as much as before (at least I haven't). I do use it to change my running object snap settings by selecting the Osnap Settings option.

Cursor Menu #8
Yet another right-click menu is hiding within the new Bonus Tools (sorry, you LT users are out of this one). Under the Bonus pulldown menu, go to Tools and Popup menu. After selecting this, you'll see the following at the Command-line prompt:

Command: (bonuspopup)
Popup application loaded.
Ctrl right mouse click to use, or Alt right mouse click to configure.
A Ctrl-right mouse click displays the View pulldown menu. I'm not too crazy about the View pulldown, so I opt to select a different menu. Following the instructions, I see that this can be done with an Alt-right mouse click, displaying the dialog box found in Figure 8.

Figure 8. The Bonus Popup Menu options are accessed by doing an Alt-right mouse click in the Tool and Popup menu.

From here you can select the pulldown of your choice (my personal favorite is Bonus). If you've added any additional pulldown menus to the AutoCAD menu, you'll see them displayed within this dialog as well.

Cursor Menu #9
The final right-click menu was covered in last month's column (October '98, "Circles and Lines: Creating Your Own Toolbars (For the Technically Challenged!,"). Right clicking on any toolbar displays the Toolbars dialog. Okay, I admit it's not really a cursor menu, but I snuck it in anyway! Within this dialog you can control which toolbars are displayed, make a new toolbar and delete or customize an existing one. You can also use this dialog to change the size of the buttons on your toolbars.

So, there you have it, all the right-click cursor menus I could find. I'm guessing that many of you have probably found one or two that slipped by me-do share. I'd love to add some more to my repertoire (and I'll be sure to share them with the rest of you). Until next month, happy AutoCADding!

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