Startup Switches Take the Tedium Out of Starting Up

14 Jan, 2005 By: Lynn Allen Cadalyst

Customize your AutoCAD environment so it looks and acts the way you want even before you see the Command line

Wouldn't it be nice if AutoCAD started up with your sheet set loaded and ready to go? Or maybe you share your computer with someone else and find yourself resetting the profile each time you go to use it. Do you know you're going to be working on the same drawing file, layout or view for awhile and would love for AutoCAD to launch and take you straight there? Startup Switches to the rescue.

Getting Started with Startup Switches
We are all pretty much programmed to launch AutoCAD and just get what we get. Startup switches are there to help you customize your environment before you even see the Command prompt. You can set up several different startups for different projects -- it's not uncommon to have several different AutoCAD startup icons on a desktop, all customized differently. Simply right-click on the icon you use to launch AutoCAD and select Properties from the shortcut menu. You will see four tabs in this dialog box; select the Shortcut tab (figure 1).

Figure 1. Select the Shortcut tab from the Properties dialog box to begin customizing a startup switch.

Our startup switches will be added to the end of the target line -- don't accidentally wipe out the information that tells the system to run AutoCAD! The syntax for using Command line switches is?

This is what your vanilla setup probably looks like now:

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2005\acad.exe"

This launches the AutoCAD-executable file from the Program Files\AutoCAD 2005 directory. But we will be adding powerful parameters after this statement that will save you time up front. The parameter syntax looks like this:

/switch "name"

For example, if you'd like AutoCAD to automatically run a script file after it launches, you would use the switch /b.

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2005\acad.exe" /b "Disney"

You won't see the Command line until your script file has run. (The above example runs a script file called DISNEY.)

Note: A script file can be used to automatically set up system variables, styles, layers and so forth in a new drawing.

Would you like to see AutoCAD launch just a little bit faster? You can turn off the logo splashscreen, shortening up your wait time by just a smidgeon (technical term). Use the \nologo switch.

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2005\acad.exe" /nologo

My favorite switch is the one that specifies a sheet set to be loaded so you don't have to load it yourself after AutoCAD launches. Every day I found myself loading the sheet set manually (because AutoCAD doesn't seem to remember that I had it loaded when I left the drawing). And I am not a fan of tedium. If the name of the sheet set was TIFFANY -- it's close to Valentines Day, can't help myself -- your startup would look like this:

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2005\acad.exe" 
/set "C:\ACAD 2005 Project\Tiffany.dst"

/set is the switch
C:\ACAD 2005 Project is my directory path
TIFFANY.DST is the name of my sheet set

Some switches require complete pathing information (like the sheet set switch) and some do not (like the script file switch). For those that do not, make sure the desired file is somewhere along the support path or AutoCAD won't be able to find it.

If you know you will be working on the same drawing file for awhile, you can launch AutoCAD and tell it to open a specific drawing file. To load the drawing file called ENGINE from your ACAD 2005 project directory you would use the following syntax:

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2005\acad.exe" 
"C:\ACAD 2005 Project\Engine"

Other Types of Switches
Let's look at some other switches:

/t. Creates a new drawing based on the indicated template file. AutoCAD assumes a DWT filetype so complete pathing information is not needed.

/layout. This switch will open a specific layout in the indicated drawing file. The syntax is a little different in that you'll specify the drawing file and the layout separated by a vertical bar. For example, if you had a drawing file called ENGINE and a layout called ASSEMBLY:

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2005\acad.exe" 
/layout "C:\ACAD 2005 Project\Engine|Assembly"

/v. Opens the indicated drawing file and zooms to a specific view.

/p. Launches AutoCAD and loads a specific profile. This profile is only in effect for the current AutoCAD session unless you go to the Options dialog box and set it to be the current profile.

/nossm. For those of you who haven't embraced the new Sheet Set Manager, you can suppress its existence upon entering AutoCAD using this switch.

/ld. Loads a specified ARX or DBX application. You must include the complete pathing information.

/c. Specifies the path for the hardware configuration file you want to use during your AutoCAD session.

Finishing Touches
Taking a look at the Properties dialog box, you'll find that you can change the title that shows up with the icon in the General tab, making it easy to distinguish which icon does what (figure 2). You can also change the Tooltip in the Shortcut tab by modifying the contents in Comments (figure 3). The Shortcut tab also allows you to tell AutoCAD you always want it to launch maximized, which comes in handy if you find yourself maximizing it manually each time.

Figure 2. Changing the icon title.

Figure 3. Changing the Tooltip.

The AutoCAD help file has a nice chart that summarizes all the startup switches as well -- look up Startup Switch -- should you require a little more information.

I think you'll find you can save yourself some valuable time by customizing various startups to meet your project demands. It will take some time to set things up, but is well worth it in the long run.

Until next month -- Happy AutoCAD-ing!

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