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AutoCAD Essentials with Jeff Bartels is a multi-part series that takes a more modular approach to this massive program, used for everything from 2D and 3D CAD design, drafting, and modeling to architectural drawing and engineering projects. This first installment includes a lengthy tour of the interface, from understanding the concept of model space to customizing the AutoCAD preferences and working with dockable palettes. The second half of the course show how to manage your drawings, including getting the most from the mouse and many shortcuts, creating time-saving templates, and plotting from either model space or in a layout.
In addition to being able to customize the location of tools onscreen, we can also customize our overall AutoCAD user experience. In this lesson, we're going to look at how to adjust AutoCAD's preferences, otherwise known as options. To open the Options dialog box, I'm going to open the application menu and I'll come down and choose Options. Now since we're just starting out, we're not going to be making extensive changes to the preferences at this time. The goal in this lesson is to show you where these setting can be found, how they're organized, and how they work.
This way, as you gain more experience using AutoCAD, and you'd like to make a few changes, you'll know exactly what you need to do. First of all, notice the Options dialog box is organized into tabs, and the tab names are task-based, much like they are on the Ribbon. On each tab are a large number of settings, and these settings are further organized into smaller groups, much like the panels on the Ribbon. If you have a question regarding a specific setting, simply hover over it and AutoCAD will give you more information about what it does. Let's make a change.
I'm going to jump over to the Display tab and if you look over here in model space, you can see that I have scrollbars that are displayed onscreen. There are better ways to pan our view these days, so the scrollbars are not needed. I'm going to come up to the Window Elements group, and I'm going to remove the check from the Display scrollbar setting, and I'll come down and click Apply, and notice that the scrollbars go away. As an example, I'd like to make another change. Maybe I would like to change the background color of model space.
To do that, I'm going to click the Colors button, and notice that you can control the color of just about every interface item in AutoCAD. First of all, you select the context. In this case, 2D model space is selected for me, and that's perfect. Then you can come over and select the interface element that you'd like to change. Uniform background is selected. Once againc that's perfect. I will then come over and choose a new color. I'm going to choose red, I'll click Apply and Close, and then I'll click Okay.
Now, maybe red isn't the optimum background color for drafting, but it's important to note that you could use this color if you wanted to. Let's return to Options, and I'd like to put things back the way they were. To do that, I'll click the Colors button. And you may wonder if you get in and change a lot of these things, you know, maybe do you have to write the numbers down so you can remember in the event you'd like to restore them? That's not the case. You don't have to worry; AutoCAD will do the remembering for you. Over here on the right side, I have several buttons I can use to put things back the way they were.
In this case, I've only changed one thing, so I'm going to restore the current element. In the event I changed several things within this context, I could restore everything by clicking the Restore current context button. I can also restore all contexts. Let's finish by clicking Apply and Close. I'm going to jump over to the Open and Save tab now. If we look right here, we can see that AutoCAD by default is going to save the drawings in the 2013 format. If I click the flyout, notice I can set AutoCAD to automatically save as an older release if I want to.
Now be aware, if you do save your drawings as an older release, your drawing will be permanently converted such that it will display properly in the older version. Since 2013 represents a brand-new file format, the only way to open these drawings using an older version of AutoCAD will be to save the drawings as an older release. So keep this in mind if you want to save backwards. Let's make one more change. I'm going to jump over to the 3D Modeling tab. And if we look right down here, you can see that we have a display setting for the ViewCube.
The ViewCube shows up right here in model space. Now if you are only going to be working in 2D and you don't see yourself needing the ViewCube, you can remove the check from this setting, click Apply, and he will never bother you again. Once again, I'm going to restore my settings by rechecking that box. I'll click Apply, and when I'm finished fine-tuning AutoCAD to my needs, I'll come down here and click OK. In this lesson we learned that AutoCAD can be greatly customized by adjusting the settings in the Options dialog box.
As you become more comfortable using AutoCAD, I would encourage you to revisit these settings, and with a little effort, you can personalize your version of AutoCAD to exactly match the way you like to work.
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