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AutoCAD Productivity Articles - 2011


December - Fun Winter Memories

Hopefully this finds you all looking forward to a fun Christmas season! Be it on the beach sunning and swimming or on the mountain trails skiing and schussing, winter activities are always fun. I think my favorite snow-related memory is here at home in Kentucky, after a pretty good snowfall, sledding down our steps, down the front yard, across the road, down the hill, then rolling off before getting to the creek at the bottom. The walk back, however…

On the AutoCAD front, perhaps you will find something in this month's offerings (presents?) that you will remember and use to make you a wee bit more productive, get the job done sooner, and get to spend more time at home! Consider the following…

…How to use the Revolve command to create a Surface Model
…Features of the Navigation Bar that you may actually be able to implement
…A more efficient way of toggling on and off Isolated objects
…Docking your windows to be more productive, especially when checking your drawing

My schedule at the end of December will be not unlike Santa as he jets around the planet; Guam one week and New York City the next. Nonetheless, I'm sure it will be a wonderful - and memorable - adventure. My lovely bride of 25 years keeps telling me to "Enjoy the Moment". Good advice to one and all.

Blessings to you all for a delightful Christmas season and a great New Year!

A Quick Pique at Surface Modeling
That Navigation Bar
‘Isolate Objects’ Status Bar Icon
Optimized Viewing of Your Drawing Info

November - From Autodesk University, to Folsom Prison, to Guam!

My travel schedule gets pretty wacky (not as wacky as Shaan's, of course), but this is probably the most exciting sequence of events and locations I've had in awhile. At Autodesk University, I'll be presenting The AutoCAD Toolbelt lab twice, the following week I have been invited to do some AutoCAD training at Folsom Prison (stay tuned to Michael's Corner for more on how that goes!), then I'll be heading down to Guam again to train customers of the New Horizons Learning Center. Ee-Hah!

This month I'll be covering the following topics of interest expressed by folks in my recent training sessions…

Mapping materials to 3D furniture blocks comprised of 3D faces
Adding a button to the Quick Access Toolbar that will reload all Xrefs at once
Putting the workspace name back on the Workspace Switching icon on the A2012 Status bar
Subtleties of the Join command

Really looking forward to presenting at Autodesk University again, as we learn to Export a customized tab from the Ribbon. After AU, I'll be posting the presentation on my Home page, next to the ones from the previous 2 years.

Ah, and a Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Mapping Materials to Blocks in A2012 and Tweaking a Visual Style
Reload All Xrefs from One Button
Display the Workspace Label in A2012
The JOIN Command

October - Colorful Settings

Not quite sure how I ended up with 3 out of 4 articles involving color, but that's how it turned out. I then discovered that I had not been specific about the type of text object that works best with a Dynamic Block (covered in Michael's Corner, August 2011), so I covered the creating of an attribute so the Dynamic Block will be a wee bit more effective.

So, for my birthday month (October 12th, thank you), here's what I have in store:

…Creating a button on the Quick Access Toolbar to load your favorite linetypes automatically
…Follow-up on the stretching Dynamic Block and how to create an Attribute Definition
…The curious case of a transparent Command line
…How to color new dual-element Command line in AutoCAD 2012

I'll be turning in the content for my AutoCAD University labs soon, so stay tuned for the posting of that workbook on my Home page in December.

Hope your October is great!

Load Linetypes from the QAT
Follow-Up to Dynamic Block that Stretches (August 2011)
Transparent Command Line
Command Line Color

September - Settings & Information

As I reviewed the content for this month, I realized that 3 of the four articles cover running some type of inquiry on a drawing, and the other one shows you how to customize the Osnap setting for quicker access.

Curiously, that's what a significant percentage of your day probably boils down to: Queries, the result of which then enable you to respond appropriately, and settings which enable a quicker response. So here's what I have for you this month:

…Customizing the QAT for quicker Osnap changes
…Configuring Quick Select to use a Wildcard search for text
…Adding the Area property to Quick Properties when selecting a Hatch
…Using Bcount to automatically tally up all your blocks

The cooler evenings make for much more pleasant grilling these days. Hopefully these insights will give you a wee bit more time to experiment with a new recipe, or whatever you may find to do with all that extra time!

Happy Fall to one and all!

Add a Custom Button to the Quick Access Toolbar
Quick Select with a Wildcard for Text
Hatch Area in Quick Properties
BCOUNT [Block Count]

August - Hot Fun

Some of you are filling in the rest of the song, "…in the summertime", the 1969 hit single recorded by Sly & the Family Stone. As I'm writing this, I'm beginning to appreciate — dare I say 'long for' — the oft-quoted "dry heat" of Phoenix, after spending time in the Caribbean, Florida, and now this curious hot spell we've had here in Kentucky the last several weeks.

Customizing takes the first three spots this month as I looked back over some of the requests I received from my customers recently.

…Creating a dynamic block that can be sized (using a Linear parameter) to accommodate the text string
…Adding a command to an existing drop-down list on the Ribbon
…Organizing the position of the columns in the Layer Properties Manager
…Using the 'Hold' feature in Layer Walk

Hopefully these will make your summertime a bit more productive!

Dynamic Block: Two-Directional Stretch
Add a Dimension to the Combo Drop-down on the Home Tab
Layer Properties Header Organization
Layer Walk: the 'Hold Selection' Feature

July - Software Fireworks!

A portion of this month's content was written while I was down in the Dutch Caribbean presenting training for the UTS Training & Development Center in St. Maarten. What a joy and a blessing to be invited down there and the hospitality shown to me by the Center's managers, David & Christine McGregor was positively delightful. My 36 students were pretty great, too, I must say.

This month I wanted to tackle the new AutoCAD 2012 Array feature and at least give you some starting points. So in the fashion of the 4th of July, I'll light the ‘fuse of interest’, and my suspicion is you will all have your own colorful ideas on how to apply these insights:

…Creating and adjusting an Associative rectangular array
…Using the multifunction grips and the contextual tab to edit the Associative array
…Mechanics of editing a source object in an Associative array
…Editing stacked fractions in Mtext (I know, totally random)

I sure hope you all have as much fun with these tips as I did discovering them, and I hope you have a safe summer holiday!

AutoCAD 2012's Associative Array
Multifunction Grip and Contextual Tab for Arrays
Modifying the Source Object in an Associative Array
Stacking Fractions in Mtext

June - Summer Dance

It's been awhile since Donna and I went dancing, but I'm hoping this finds you all looking forward to a drier summer - at least here in the midwest of the USA - and feel compelled to just up and dance a jig to celebrate!

I want to thank David, too, for stepping in and bringing some excellent insights "for Month 101" of Michael's Corner. I was absolutely elated to see his extensive coverage on Excel Data in AutoCAD! That is a topic I have been woefully ignorant about, so hopefully you also feel much more empowered and able to address that topic when it arises.

We'll begin the summer with a customer request and take a look at a few more A2012 entries.

…New UCS Icon power features in A2012
…How to rotate text objects around their insertion point using an Express tool
…How to launch A2012 - or any program - faster by assigning a hot key and a switch
…New Fillet and Chamfer previews in A2012

Thanks again to all of you for your ongoing support and encouragement to the CADTutor team!

The Lowly UCSICON is Lowly No More!
Orient Your Text with Torient
Efficient Startup
A2012 Preview Feature for Fillets and Chamfers

May - Data Links and New Tools

This month I have the great pleasure of standing in for Michael while he takes a well-earned rest after delivering his 100th Corner last month. Never fear, Michael will be back next month, but in the meantime I have a few things you might find interesting.

We all work with data and commonly, we need to integrate this data with our AutoCAD drawings. This month I demonstrate how to make a data link between AutoCAD and Microsoft Excel and how to display your spreadsheets in an AutoCAD table.

In other articles, I'm covering a few things new to AutoCAD 2011 and 2012 that you may have missed but should know about because they are great for productivity.

Data Link Excel to AutoCAD
Blend Curves
The Ribbon AND Toolbars
Add Selected and Select Similar

April - The 100th Michael's Corner: Thank You!

100th CornerWho knew, back in 2002 when Professor David Watson invited me to contribute to CADTutor, that there would still be an audience 100 months later. I am humbled and honored to still be considered a valuable resource for improving your AutoCAD productivity.

Although the celebration in London this month would have been wonderful, the timing wasn't quite right (and I'm still not sure when I'm going to use that round-trip ticket I have, so stay tuned).

Nonetheless, here are a few of the things I was preparing for that event.

…How to add button to the Quick Access Toolbar for a unique Viewpoint position
…The Hatch Transparency two-step
…A quicker way to make a New Layer using the QAT
…Adding the Object Hide and Isolation commands to the QAT
…And a few other random insights that I have been gathering

And yes, AutoCAD 2012 is now available, so once I work with it a bit more, I'll get back to you on what I find under the hood (or in the trunk with the spare tire!).

Selecting a Viewpoint from the Quick Access Toolbar
Hatch Transparency
Quick Access Toolbar - Your Best Friend
Object Isolation Feature [A2011]
User-Defined Field Format
Hot Key to Toggle Between Viewports
Color Scheme: Light or Dark
ViewCube toggle in Options
Hatch: Match Properties (formerly Inherit Properties)
Locked Layer Fading

March - March Right In!

I don't know about you, but I was very glad to see March come in - lamb, lion, or otherwise. That was one curious Winter, and Spring can't come soon enough. It also means we're that much closer to the 100th month of Michael's Corner in April, a fantastic milestone for us.

I have some great ideas for next month's edition of Michael's Corner - one of those "you heard it here first" situations for those who get to read it - and then I'll use 'em in my next Autodesk University seminar if my session is selected.

Meanwhile, this month is comprised of some customizing and some off-the-beaten-path bits, including:

…Drawing in Surveyor's Units
…Adding the Single Viewport button to the Quick Access Toolbar
…Locking layers with a Crossing Window (this is a buried treasure!)
…Insights about Xref layers

It has a been a great treat to provide you with 99 months(!) of AutoCAD tips and insights so far, and I hope to make a real splash next month for our 100th month celebration in April!

Drawing With Surveyor Units
Button to Create a Single Viewport
Lock Layers with a Crossing Window
Xref Layer Insights

February - Sweetheart Solutions

I've always liked Valentine's Day. Being a friendly kinda guy, I enjoyed the whole card swapping that went on in school and now as an adult, it's always a fabulous opportunity for a date with my lovely bride of nearly 25 years. And then there's the chocolate!

Hopefully, this month you will find a feature or two you can learn to 'love' and look forward to using in your daily AutoCAD grind. The four command-truffles I have boxed up for you this month include…

…How to make use of the recently-released AutoCAD WS
…Adding batt insulation to the walls of your floorplan
…Some random AutoCAD tech tips
…How to add a hatch to selected objects

Hope you have a wonderful February!

"On Your Mark…"

The preparations for the celebration of the 100th month of Michael's Corner are beginning to take shape!


A one day seminar presenting April's Michael's Corner content in realtime, some things I am planning for my next AU seminar, along with a few hours worth of tips I have collected and have yet to write about!

Proposed Date

Monday, April 11, 9:00 - 15:00. The time can be tweaked if necessary, and the specific day that week will be determined based on venue availability.


A location in London's West End, easily accessed by Tube. David has a place in mind, but we have yet to secure the hall; we will definitely know by next month. The hall we are considering holds 70, classroom style. Unfortunately, we cannot provide the logistics for you to hook up your laptop, but you can bring it if you want.


  • A workbook similar in layout to Michael's Corner and The AutoCAD Workbench covering the day's topics.
  • Door prizes:
    3 Copies of The AutoCAD Workbench
    2 Flash drives containing the PDF version of The AutoCAD Workbench
    1 3G iPad (seriously!)
  • Lunch will also be provided


This is based on the venue and the number of you attending! We have no idea how many people to plan for, but at this point, I'm looking at between £75 & £100 per person for the day. The more folks we have, the better the price we can offer!! I would love to have so many that we need to have two days!

*** Please let me or David know if you think you can make this event ***

There will be reduced pricing for Early Registration and for Students with a valid Student ID.

Please tell your friends, co-workers, former employers (that you like), and anyone else you think would enjoy this one-time event. I'm really looking forward to this opportunity. For me, this will be more exciting than Autodesk University! Once all the logistics are in place, I will forward the information to my friends Shaan Hurley and Kate Morrical to post on their blogs.

If any of you in western Europe would be intersested in onsite AutoCAD training while I'm over there, please contact me to discuss availability.

Mechanics of AutoCAD WS
Adding Batt Insulation to Walls
Need-To-Know Tech Tools
Hatch Selected Objects from the Hatch Tab

January - 2011?? Really?!

Hard to believe, isn't it. The 'new' millenium isn't so new anymore. Well, I guess in light of 1,000 years, 10 isn't so far along. Did you realize there's over 1,000 commands listed in the CUI; closer to 1,500 actually. Let's say that this year you learn 11 new commands/features/insights/tips over the course of the next month. I'll try to do my part, too. To that end, rather than specific commands, we'll start the year with some settings and general concepts, such as…

…Features of the Quick View Drawings and Quick View Layouts interface
…Subtle settings when using the wheel button on your mouse
…How to toggle off the frame of a PDF Underlay
…Customizing the plot scale list

What's in store for 2011? The CAD Tutor folks and I are making plans for a special 100th Michael's Corner coming in April, so stay tuned for that announcement, hopefully coming next month. And, of course, the 2nd edition of The AutoCAD Workbench will be available in June. That edition will include the previous 12 months of tips, so I'll have an announcement about that in the Spring.

Blessings to one and all and I hope you have a rockin' solid 2011!

Quick View Drawings and Layouts
Turbo your Wheel Mouse!
PDF Frame
Viewport Plot Scale

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