Smart Mousing Around #3 – AutoCAD Training for Beginners

Part 3 (AutoCAD Training for Beginners)  Smart Mousing Around

Welcome back. This blog entry is part of my AutoCAD Training for Beginners series. This is part three of this segment on using your mouse effectively in the AutoCAD interface. As you know, looking for the right tool can take up quite a bit of time for beginners to CAD design. One way to improve your productivity significantly is to know how to mouse around for tools quickly.

If you missed part 2, you can find it right here:

I’d left off discussing how a right-click on the ribbon (that’s the strip of commands at the top of the page) is how you quickly add and remove command groups (tabs and panels) from the ribbon, as well as change how the panels look (large icons, small icons, with or without text).

The Quick Access Toolbar

Let’s right-click on the Quick Access Toolbar. This is the small strip of commands right at the top of the AutoCAD interface:

AutoCAD Training for Beginners

AutoCAD Training for Beginners

Figure 01 – The Quick Access toolbar is the small strip of icons at the top of the AutoCAD interface. Right-click for its contextual menu, which lets you easily add and remove tools.

By default, the Quick Access toolbar contains the standard tools like Save, Undo, Redo and so on. Different tools are available in different environments. When you right-click on the Quick Access toolbar, you can easily add and remove tools. This lets you customize it very quickly, so that the tools you use most frequently are easily accessible. Right-click on a tool to remove it from the toolbar, add a separator (that’s a little line that separates one icon from another), launch the customize window for this toolbar, and to move the toolbar below the ribbon. If you use the Quick Access toolbar frequently, it is sometimes easier for you to have it displayed under the ribbon, since it requires less mouse movement to get there.

The Command Line

Now let’s go to the bottom of the AutoCAD interface and right-click on the command line. The command line is a legacy feature of AutoCAD that is super fast and convenient if you are comfortable with the software. This is where you can enter command short cuts and values directly into the program, rather than using the modern dialog window and multiple choice command selections, like drop down menus, etc.

AutoCAutoCAD Training for Beginners

AutoCAD Training for Beginners

Figure 02 – The contextual menu for the command line.

The top section offers us recent commands; the middle section offers us commands specific to the command line, such as input settings, input search options, copy/cut/paste options, and the bottom section takes us to general options. So, this is the pattern in most of the contextual menus. Most of the context-sensitive menus are divided into three sections like this, and you will learn to expect this when you right-click.  Even if you’re not sure which commands will be there, you can guess that there will be a way to get to recent input, a few commands related to exactly what you’re doing right now, and a way to get to some more general options.

The Status Bar

Beneath the command line is the status bar. It’s got a lot of different information and commands on it. This is a good strip to get used to, and I cover it in greater detail in my AutoCAD tutorials for beginners series about the interface. (Click here for the link to the youtube playlist >> )

AutoCAD training for beginners

AutoCAD training for beginners

Figure 03 – The status bar, at the bottom of the AutoCAD interface.

Let’s right click on the toggles here:

AutoCAD Tutorials for beginnersFigure 04 – the toggles in the status bar.

This is how we can choose which toggles to enable or disable, as well as modifying some of the settings for each toggle.

AutoCAD training for beginners

AutoCAD training for beginners

 Figure 05 – the list of enabled toggles, which we see when we right-click on the toggle portion of the status bar.

In the screen shot above, take note of all the keyboard shortcuts for toggling the tools on and off. Press F9 to enable snap mode, F7 to enable the grid, F8 for ortho mode and so on. The keyboard shortcuts are your fastest way to use these commands, and with a bit of practice you will know them by heart.

To the left of the toggles are the drawing coordinates. Left click on them to turn them off and on. When they’re off, they’re not tracking your mouse movements, and they are light gray. When they are toggled on, they are dark gray as you see below, and the numbers change to reflect where exactly your cursor is at in model space (the drawing area).

AutoCAD Beginner Tutorials

AutoCAD Beginner Tutorials

Figure 06 – The drawing coordinates on the status bar.

When you right click on the drawing coordinates, the contextual menu lets you choose between absolute and relative coordinates, as well as enabling or disabling the coordinates.

(What are absolute and relative coordinates? Check out my AutoCAD Video Tutorial Fundamentals! )

This concludes part three of my article on effective mousing around the AutoCAD interface. Stay tuned for my next installment! (I may have time to post one more over the weekend, but my son was stung by a black hornet this morning so I have to keep an eye on his swelling).

Thanks! Rosanna D, VTN