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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 September 2012

A Quick Access Button to Set a Layer

Keeping track of the layer you need to be on is a daily struggle. Over the years we've seen how to set that up on the Tool Palette to automate the layer the Text or Dimension is going onto. But what if you just want to set your default layer to current, such as the Shell layer, or, in the case of many of my customers, A-FURN.

We'll add this to the Quick Access Toolbar, too, but first we have to break down the command we'll be adding.

Layers From the Command Line

The button we add can't launch the Layer Properties Manager; it has to launch the Command line version of that feature: -LA

To launch the old-timey version of many AutoCAD commands, you precede their alias with a hyphen. For the Layer command you get the following:

Enter an option [?/Make/Set/New/Rename/ON/OFF/Color/Ltype/LWeight/Transparency/ MATerial/Plot/Freeze/Thaw/LOck/Unlock/stAte/Description/rEconcile]:

Of the first three options — Make/Set/New — Make will not only create the layer, but it will also set it to current AND, if the layer already exists, it will simply set that layer to be current. Basically, cake & eat it, too!

How to Configure the QAT to Set a Layer to Current

  1. Create a new commandLaunch the CUI, then expand Quick Access Toolbars, then Quick Access Toolbars 1 to display the current content of the QAT.

  2. Just above the Command List, click the button for Create a New Command. You will then see ‘Commandx’ in the list.

  3. Drag your new command into the Quick Access Toolbar list of commands.

  4. Now click on the command in the list to display the Properties in the lower right area of the CUI.

  5. Give it a Display ‘Name’, and a ‘Command Name’, then enter the following in the Macro line, where you put the layer name you want to be current:


    Note: Many times, we will launch a command and only then discover that the layer needs to be changed. The leading apostrophe in the above macro will run the -LA command as a ‘nested’ routine; it won't cancel the current command, just put it on hold. Since the -LA command returns the option string after each requested setting, the final semi-colon completes the command.

  6. Sets layer to be currentRather than making a new button top [See Michael's Corner April 2011 for that process], find an icon in the vast collection of existing AutoCAD buttons and click it to assign it to the blank command button.

  7. You may also want to add a ‘Tooltip Title’ before clicking OK to complete your QAT addition.

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