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Michael’s Corner

Michael BeallMichael's Corner is a monthly publication written by Michael E. Beall, Autodesk Authorized Author and peripatetic AutoCAD trainer. Michael travels all over the USA, bringing his fantastic experience and great understanding of AutoCAD to his clients. Michael's Corner brings together many of the tips, tricks and methods developed during these training sessions for the benefit of all users.

Michael's Corner provides something for every AutoCAD user. Every month, a number of articles cover a wide range of topics, suitable for users at all levels, including "The Basics" for those just starting out. Essentially, the aim of Michael's Corner is to help all AutoCAD users work smarter and faster.

This month…

October - One-derful!!!

It's a God-thing.

I had no idea that 14 years ago I would be given the opportunity to make an impact on the professional lives of so many. Only God knew what was ahead, and hopefully, the contributions I have made through Michael's Corner have equipped many of you to be more productive and a bit more savvy using AutoCAD. And apart from all the AutoCAD bashing that is going on, I'm sure it has a long life ahead.

So, in an effort to keep the AutoCAD fires burning, here's what I have for my final installment…

…A reminder on how to customize your hot keys
…Three Power Tools — one for Zoom, one for editing, and one for Layers
…Two Odd Spots — one for Layers and one for Hatching
…Buried text treasure
…And how to Search 14 years of the Archives

As for what's ahead for me, I will continue to present a variety of AutoCAD sessions — Fundamentals, Intermediate, Customizing, Updates, and 2D & 3D. I will also keep training CAP Designer, 20-20 Worksheet, Visual Impression (those three from 20-20 Technologies, Inc.), and some Revit Fundamentals. Next year I'm looking forward to being very involved in training CET (from Configura, Inc.) when Herman Miller joins the growing number of manufacturers embracing this software that is being touted as the ‘Future of Space Planning’. Personally, I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time with Donna, my lovely bride of 30 years. When this posts, we'll probably be within days of going on our 30th Anniversary vacation to the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson; Ee-Hah! We had such a good time when we went for our 20th, we figured we'd do it again!

Ah, and I'm hoping to have The AutoCAD Workbench, Final Edition out before snow flies.

And with that, Mike drop! …so to speak.

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

This month's articles

Change F1 to ESC
Smoother Zoom
Stretch with Extension
Lock Layers with a Crossing Window
Layer Columns & Hatch Background Color
Text Frame on Mtext

From the Vault

Originally published July 2008

Free AutoCAD

One question I am always asked by AutoCAD beginners is: "how can I get hold of my own copy of AutoCAD so that I can practice at home?" In the past, there wasn't a great deal of choice and the sheer cost of AutoCAD caused many to seek illegal solutions to their problem. Fortunately, things have changed recently and there are now two potential routes a beginner can take to facilitate their learning. If you're a student or an employee working with AutoCAD at work, there's a pretty good chance you can install a legitimate copy of AutoCAD at home for free.


Students have a great choice of free Autodesk software at the Autodesk Student Community. Any college or university student can sign up and download whatever they want from the extensive list that includes 4 AutoCAD vertical products. The only limitation is the usual educational product overprint and the 13 month licence. Other than that, these are fully functioning products and are provided in the latest versions.


With the release of AutoCAD 2009, Autodesk improved some of the benefits to those with a subscription. The big headline change was the opportunity for subscribers to install and use any previous version of AutoCAD, even if we never owned it in the first place. While this may be useful for some, the most useful benefit of subscription for beginners is the opportunity to install a second copy of AutoCAD at home. So, if you use AutoCAD at work and your company has a subscription, ask your subscription manager to request a copy for home use. Take a look at the Home Use FAQ for more details.

Both the student and subscriber home use versions of AutoCAD are available for free so if you are entitled to either of these, what are you waiting for?


AutoCAD e-learning

Subscription brings further benefits to beginners in the form of some excellent e-learning materials. These are essentially self-paced slide-show tutorials with simple quizzes at the end of each section. I have to admit that I found them incredibly useful for getting to grips with the new interface.

Autodesk Impression

Autodesk Impression And finally, as an added incentive to subscribe, Autodesk have made Impression a free download for subscribers. As you may know, Impression can be used to transform your AutoCAD drawings into rich presentation images like the one on the right (see the Impression Design Gallery for more). Again, if you're a subscriber, it's free so why not give it a go?

Oh, and while we're on the subject of free stuff, don't forget that you can discuss any of the topics in this month's Corner (and/or other stuff) over at our forums.

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