Avatech Tricks: Function Key and Object Snap Overrides

12 Feb, 2006 By: Jerry Berns Cadalyst

Use the Function, Control and Shift keys to temporarily override your drafting settings in AutoCAD 2006.

This tip will demonstrate how to temporarily override your drafting settings in AutoCAD 2006. Through the use of Function, Control and Shift keys, you can enable/disable Snap mode, Ortho mode, Polar mode, and Object Snap or Dynamic Input for a user pick point. These methods will help to reduce the number of picks or the frequency of toggling function keys while inputting pick points.

The Process
To temporarily disable the Object Snap tool, typically you would toggle it off using F3, pick the point and then toggle the Object Snap tool on again. This process is not difficult, but AutoCAD 2006 allows you to press and hold the F3 key and then pick the point. When you release the F3 key, you will have picked the point and restored the Object Snap tool to its original state with a single keystroke instead of two.

Figure 1. Override indicated by the keypress symbol.
The key to this process is a little patience. When you press and hold the override key, AutoCAD takes a short moment to determine that you activated an override. The wait period is usually less than a second. When the override is activated, AutoCAD displays an indicator next to the crosshair as a fingertip pressing a key (figure 1).

You may continue to hold the override for multiple picks. Upon release, the previous drafting state is restored.

Supported Functions
You may override all the drafting tools while picking points. This procedure applies to both draw and modify commands that request a user pick point. By pressing and holding F3 (Object Snap), F8 (Ortho), F9 (Snap), F10 (Polar), F11 (Otrack) or F12 (Dynamic), you will toggle the current state of that drafting tool for the next pick.

Other temporary overrides include Object Snap overrides. This process allows you to set a specific object snap without the using a mouse right-click followed by a menu selection. If the next pick you need requires a search for an end point only, you may press and hold Shift+E. When the override symbol is displayed, AutoCAD will search for end points only. You can use Shift+M for midpoint and Shift+C for center. Several temporary object snap overrides exist in AutoCAD; you can view or modify them in the CUI (Custom User Interface).

To access the temporary override keys list, use AutoCAD's CUI. Once the interface is open, browse the top left window to display the Temporary Override Keys category (figure 2). The list of keys is shown in the top right window.

Figure 2. CUI temporary override keys.

Expand the Temporary Override Key category by selecting the + symbol. Figure 3 shows a partial list. The dialog box includes an option to print this list or copy to clipboard. You can use this list as a reference until you memorize the shortcuts.

Figure 3. List of temporary override keys.

I will create a new override for a tangent object snap. Scroll the key list in the left window to locate the Object Snap Override -- Tangent (figure 4).

Figure 4. Object Snap Override -- Tangent.

Note the absence of the shortcut key in the right window. Select the Key(s) option in the lower right window, and then select the Edit option figure 5).

Figure 5. Tangent override definition before editing.

When the Shortcut Key editor appears, select the edit box then type the shortcut keys. For this example, I used Ctrl+T. The keys should display in the box. Click the Assign button to complete the assignment (figure 6).

Figure 6. Input the keyboard shortcut.

Upon return to the CUI dialog box, select the OK button to save the changes and close the interface.

The power of the temporary override keys allows you to rapidly select specific modes for their point inputs, so you can reduce the frequency of your keystrokes and mouse motion. With the information provided in this tip, you can customize the AutoCAD CUI to create the override keys that best fit your design needs. I hope you find yourself working more efficiently in AutoCAD.

About the Author: Jerry Berns

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