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AutoCAD Productivity Articles - 2004


December - Holiday Gifts for Everyone

Have you ever found that Autodesk, bless them, will put really cool features and options in the commands of AutoCAD but, for some yet-to-be-identified reason, the default option is NOT the really useful one? The Extend and Trim commands have this really great option called Edge… but the default is set to <No Extend>. Take a look at the Basics article and you'll see what I mean.

Also in our December bag of presents is a quick overview of the Gradient hatch, a bit of insight into the frame feature of the Wipeout command and an idea for a command tool on your favorite palette. Have a safe and blessed holiday season then flip that calendar and get ready for more surprises in the New Year!

Gradient Hatch
Node Snap on a Palette
No Ortho or Polar with Wipeout
Edge Option for the Extend and Trim Commands

November - Power Edits, Points and Palettes

Last month I covered some fun editing features and I found a couple other ones that I wanted to pass along. As I was reviewing the last 22 months of tips (yes, I am coming up on the two year anniversary of writing this column for this terrific website), I discovered that I needed to pass along the updated features of Palettes in AutoCAD 2005. Now that may take a couple issues. In the meantime, carry on and pass along your questions and insights anytime.

On a personal note, it looks like I will be traveling to the continent of Africa to present training in Egypt and Zimbabwe early next year. There are a number of you in the UK/EU who have visited my website, too, so if you are interested in hosting or attending my AutoCAD Toolbelt Workshop, please contact me soon as planning this trip will take a bit of time.

Rotate to Parallel
Tool Palette Updates for A2005
Under the Option Radar
Why a Closed Polyline?

October - Power Edits and Buried Treasure

As I was presenting an AutoCAD workshop to an architectural firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado last month (, I came to the startling realization that I had failed to present some very fundamental, yet powerful features in the pages of this column. I will frequently use the archives of this column (found at the bottom of this page), when a question is brought up during a training session…

The Align and Lengthen utilities are under-utilized mostly because folks don't know they're out there. One of the more misunderstood features is Pedit, a feature that may take a couple months to fully review. Also, the Region command has been around since R11, I think, and believe it or not, is part of AutoCAD LT. And LT even has the three Booleans of Intersect, Union, and Subtract.

Polyline Edit

September - Productivity Solutions

This collection is, once again, driven partly by questions from the many emails I receive, as well as a follow-up to last month's article on the UCS. The Basics section reaches back to a very fundamental but important element in creating and editing objects.

And in response to those managers who need to know why you should upgrade to A2005, let me refer to a customer response after I presented my A2005 Update course: "We won't be saving just minutes, we'll be going home before dark!".

Saved Views & the UCS
Prompt for Rotation
Deleted Hatch Boundary?
Polar Coordinate Entry

August - UCS: It's Yours - Use It!

The User Coordinate System is overlooked frequently when, in fact, there's lots of power if you know where to look. This month we take a look at a few of the integral parts of this feature. Also this month I just wanted to mention that there's a whole array of "underground" features that can be found on just the Command line. If you have some favorite Command line only routines that you can't do without, pass 'em along.

UCS: Not Just for 3D Drawings
Real-Time UCS
“Command Line Only”
UCS Icon and Its Properties

July - Summer Fun

The feature that really won me over to the whole DWF thing is the ability to plot to scale, a feature that's built into Autodesk's Express Viewer. The Viewer is included on your AutoCAD 2005 installation CD and can be downloaded from their website at This is where you want to send your contractors and collaborators who don't have AutoCAD so they can download it and view the DWF files. Then I found a couple other Text-related things that I thought were worthy of note that may escape the casual observer… or those of us who just don't take the time to investigate stuff because we're so darn busy. And finally, just to make sure we're all on the same page, a quick overview of the A2005 Revcloud routine; their fourth iteration of this feature. Carry on.

DWF: Writing and Reading
Convert Text to Mtext
Mtext Property Edits
Revision Cloud IV

June - EXPRESS Train: NeoCon 2004 Special

This month's coverage of Express Tools is in recognition of the attendees of my "AutoCAD Toolbelt" presentation at the NeoCon World's Trade Fair 2004 in Chicago June 14-16. I mentioned a few of my favorite Express Tools at the end of the handout, so I thought this would be an appropriate venue for an overview on those particular features.

To review last month's column or to see a listing of topics since January, 2003, check out the Michael's Corner archive page.

Draw: Break-line Symbol
System Variable Editor
EXPRESS: Enclose Text with Object

May - EXPRESS Train: Mind the Gap

The history of the Express Tools has a checkered past, at best. They were part of Release 14 as the Bonus Tools, then the early subscription program sent them out monthly to those that signed up. They were migrated from R14 to A2000, but the effectively suppressed from migration in A2000i. There was about 18 months when they were free from the Autodesk website, then resurfaced as "Express Tools; Volumes 1-9"… for a price.

With the introduction of AutoCAD 2004, you now have the full collection of Express Tools (and no longer have to dink around trying to make the ones you had from A2000 work). Please note, if your IT Department is responsible for installing the software, please tell them that the installation of Express Tools is a separate item in the installation wizard.

This month and at least next, I'll take a look at a few of these utilities that will definitely improve productivity.

EXPRESS: Layer Walk
Layout Tools: Change Space
Undocumented Express Tool: BCOUNT
EXPRESS: Layer Isolate

April - Grab Bag

As I've mentioned before, many of the features I bring to you each month are based upon questions from my customers as I present AutoCAD training across the US, or from emails I receive from you folks, both domestically and internationally. Once again, this month's tips are an assortment.

Some of this month's contributions came to mind, I was writing the book for Autodesk, Inc., Transitioning from AutoCAD 2000 to AutoCAD 2005 [AOTC]. In the chapter regarding gradient fills, I wanted to line up the paper space viewport objects and remembered the old MVSETUP Align option. As I was preparing the exercise to illustrate the various attribute editing features, I modified attribute values using -ATTEDIT… and forgot all about the ability of the Find/Replace command to modify attribute values. And that whole thing with the text style is a pig.

Thank you for your continued support. As I find out more information about the Transitioning book, I'll post it on my website, If you would like to be contacted directly, please let me know.

Viewport Alignment
Attribute Quick Edit
Text Style Property Hook
Variable Width Polylines

March - Palette Parade

Tool palettes are quite the hit among my customers across in the US. Once they understand how they can be implemented I'm getting high fives and big smiles. This month will be an overview of the whole palette thing.

For those of you considering the upgrade to A2005 [it was announced last month and should be at a reseller near you soon], you will find some additional enhancements made to this timely feature. Suffice it to say that if you have yet to upgrade to A2004, it would be worth your while to go ahead and get in the A2005 boat.

Tool Palettes in A2004

February - New Stuff and Old Favorites

This month I've mixed the new with the old. AutoCAD 2004 has some great features in Qnew and the Fillet command that are certainly time savers, and I have been remiss in not pointing out the fundamentals of a template. I also came across an old variable that just might be helpful for those of you working in 3D.

Use Qnew for New A2004 Drawings
Fast Fillet on Polylines, and a New Multiple Option, too!
Template Fundamentals

January - New Year of Tips

Where I came up with 48 AutoCAD productivity features over the course of 2003 continues to surprise even me, but if you click here it will take you to the "michael's corner" archives where you may find any number of things to float your AutoCAD boat. As the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Therefore, this year I will continue to bring you insights into AutoCAD that will hopefully make you QBSF (quicker, better, smarter, faster).

This month we take a look at the Partial Open/Partial Load features that will save time when loading, saving, editing, and plotting large files. Then, one of my favorite utilities is the Places area in the Open/Save dialogs because it also can save lots of time, especially if you open drawings from several different locations. And finally, the Quick Leader routine is another one of those buried treasures.

Load Only What You Need
Right here, right now
Profiling Your Places
Mtext with a Quick Leader

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