AutoCAD for Dummies – interface basics (application menu, part 3)
Welcome back to my AutoCAD basic tutorials series. I call it AutoCAD for dummies, but I don’t think you’re dummies; my wordpress SEO plugin told me to use a different keyword string here, ha ha! So, we were talking about the Application Menu.
Wait, you’re thinking; this doesn’t help me draw?! But in fact, much of your wasted time in learning a new software is figuring out what is where. The Application Menu is your one stop shop for admin commands in AutoCAD, and if you know this up and down you will most certainly save yourself quite a bit of mousing around time. In addition, you’ll be able to customize your workspace just how you like it from this menu.
We’d left off talking about how to change the number of recently opened and open documents that display in the application menu. Remember, if you click the pin icon next to each document, you can ‘pin’ the document to the recently opened documents menu. When it’s pinned down, that document will stay there at the top of the list even if you haven’t opened it recently. So, pin down the documents you need to use as reference, or anything you want to find quickly, even if you don’t use it so often.
AutoCAD for dummies – the application menu
Figure 01 – pin down documents you want to find quickly
In this post, I’ll show a high-level review of the many commands available to you from the Application Menu. Some of these, like Drawing Utilities, warrant a more detailed review and I’ll give you that in a later blog entry.
At the bottom of the Application Menu is the Close command. If you click the menu flyout (that’s the little arr0w beside the word Close), you get the option to close the current drawing, or close all drawings. This is useful because one tends to have a lot of documents open in AutoCAD, and this gives you a quick way to just close everything all at once, instead of closing one at a time.
Figure 02 -the Close submenu
Next is Drawing Utilities. (See the screen shot below). Here AutoCAD stores all the tools you need to adjust options for your drawing. I’ll be covering some of these menu options in greater detail in a separate post. You can change:
- Drawing Properties, like line weight and line type,
- Units of measurement (say, imperial or metric),
- the Audit tool, which is where AutoCAD offers some built-in intelligence to help you fix your mistakes,
- the Status tool, which helps you see various metrics of your work at a glance,
- the Purge command, which lets you removed unused named items like block definitions and layers from your drawing,
- the Recover tool, which helps you fix damaged files (say you lost an external or internal reference on your hard drive, or are trying to fix an imported or non-native AutoCAD file). The Recover tool comes with a Drawing Recovery Manager, which works like a standard “wizard”, to help you sort out.
Figure 03 – the Drawing Utilities menu
Above Drawing Utilities is the Print menu. You think at least this would just be a simple thing, but actually there are many different options for printing your work. That’s because often AutoCAD documents are massive and need to go to really big printer called a plotter. You can
- send the document to a regular laser / ink jet printer, or a plotter, or just save as a printer file.
- do a batch print, where you send a bunch of drawings to the printer, plotter, or a PDF.
- do a preview
- get a summary of the completed plot and publish jobs.
- set up the page for printing
- open the “Plotter Manager”, where you can configure custom settings for your printers.
Figure 04 – the Print menu
Next we’ve got the Publish menu. How’s this different than the Save as or Print to PDF option? Well, it gives you a few different options that are intended for sharing immediately with others, usually 3rd parties:
- You can send your docs to your 3d print service using a customizable interface.
- You can the drawing as a compact set of files called an archive. This you can then back up to external media, share with colleagues, email, ftp and more.
- eTransmit is a similar package of drawing files, just more than the current sheet set files.
- and of course, good ole email; clicking this option will launch your local email software and package the current drawing file as an email attachment.
Figure 05 – the Publish menu, different than Print or Save As.
Now let’s take at look at the Export options. Here’s where you export to specific file types such as DWF, DWFx, PDF, DGN, FBX. Only some of these file types are available in the Save As menu.
Figure 06 – the Export menu, different than Publish – save as specific file types.
Speak of the devil; right on top of that is Save As, which is where we can save to the default document type, a DWG.
- You can also save it to the AutoDesk cloud; this is the online file storage system AutoDesk gives you. You’ll need an account with AutoDesk to do this.
- This is where you save a document as a template (DWT) and a drawing standards file (DWS).
- You can also do other file types like DXF.
Figure 07 – the Save As menu, different than Publish – save as specific file types.
Our next option is the Open menu, and yes, even the Open menu gives you plenty to choose from. You can
- open a regular AutoCAD drawing (DWG) from your hard drive or from the Cloud.
- open a sheet set data file into the Sheet Set Manager. Basically, this is a bunch of connected drawings. You’ll be using these more when you work on bigger projects with other people.
- you can also import the data from a DGN file into a new regular AutoCAD file. A DGN file is a legacy file from the main CAD software that was used before AutoCAD took over the market. A lot of really big projects like bridges, roads and such are in native DGN format.
- Finally you can open some sample files from local or online locations.
Figure 08 – the Open menu lets you open & import documents that are not native to AutoCAD.
Lastly is the New command, where you can choose to create a new AutoCAD document (a .dwg file) using a template that you select. Or you can create a sheet set data file, which is kind of like the Inventor “project” file, a small independent file that manages the layouts, file paths and data of interconnected drawings (so this information isn’t stored in the sheets themselves).
Figure 09 – the New menu – create a new AutoCAD doc or a new Sheet Set.
That’s all for now, folks! Stay tuned for part 4 of this post.
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This concludes part 3 of this AutoCAD basic tutorials series on using the application menu button. Stay tuned for part 4.