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An external reference is a link that's made to another file. If you link to a drawing, you can display any of the geometry in that drawing without having to carry all of that line work in your current file. External referencing is widely used in production work where projects are large and geometry is split up into multiple drawings. Fortunately, the Mac edition of AutoCAD is very similar to the Windows version when it comes to managing reference files. In this lesson, we are going to learn how to attach and manage an external reference. On my screen, I had a drawing that represents an existing site.
The cyan line represents a property boundary, and on this site, I have an existing building and parking lot. Let's say that this site is going to be redesigned such that it can accommodate a small fast food restaurant. Let's also say that I've just received the latest site plan from the architect. Rather than inserting the new site plan, I'm going to reference it, this way the architect's geometry can stay in its own file and in the event the architect sends me a newer version of the drawing, I can easily swap out the geometry by referencing the new file.
To externally reference a drawing, I'll used to Reference Manager. We can find it in the Window menu. I will come down and select reference Manager. I can also use the keyboard shortcut Command+7. Now the Reference Manager functions almost identical to the manager that we use on the Windows platform. The dialog box just looks a little different. To reference a drawing, I can click the attach button or I can right-click in the manager and select Attach Reference. Then I can navigate through my hard drive to find my file, and I will select the Proposed Conditions Drawing, and I will click Open.
This brings up the Attach External Reference dialog box. From here, I can see a preview of the drawing I am attaching. I can click these arrows to see information about the Drawing Settings and where the drawing is located. I can determine which settings I'd like to specify on screen. I can also adjust my Path Type and Reference Type, much the same things we see on the Windows platform. I am going to make sure that all of these boxes are unchecked because I'd like this drawing to drop in at the same coordinates at which it was created.
I will move down and click OK. If I move this over, we can see the referenced geometry in our file. Now, to make this a little easier to see, I'm going to do two things. First of all, notice the referenced geometry is faded back. AutoCad does this as a courtesy. We can adjust this Fade setting through the User Preferences. I am going to press Command+Comma to open the Application Preferences. Then I will select the Look & Feel settings, and this slider right over here, controls the fading of referenced geometry.
If I drag this slider to the right, it increases the fading, moving the slider to the left decreases it. I am going to drag this all the way to the left to essentially turn fading off. Let's click OK. I am going to pan this over a touch. Let's do one more thing. I am going to open the layer List, and notice that we can see all of the referenced layers in here. I'm going to drag this down, and I will select the first non-referenced layer. I will drag this all the way to the bottom and then I'll hold my Shift key and select this one.
This selects all of the non- referenced layers in the drawing. I will then click the Color Swatch. I will choose Select Color and I am going to make this a nice neutral gray, and I will click OK. There we go. Since we are talking about referenced geometry, it's important that geometry be easy to see. Now let's talk a little more about the functions available in this manager. In the middle of the manager, I can see the referenced drawings in a tree configuration. Notice we can see the Main drawing, this drawing contains an external reference, one of them and here's the name of the referenced file.
Using these arrows, I can open or close portions of the tree. If I select a reference, that geometry will highlight in the drawing. Likewise, I will see a preview of the drawing down here below as well some additional details. In the event someone was to move or rename this linked file, I can click this Folder icon to point AutoCAD back to the drawing. Let's close this. This re-link icon at the top will do the exact same thing.
If a reference is selected, I can use this toggle load or unload the reference file. This one will detach the reference. This icon will reload the reference in the event it was modified during my current session, and this icon at the end will toggle the display of the drawing details. You'll find if you right-click on a reference in the manager, you can access many of the same options from the pop-up menu. I'm going to click inside the editor to deselect this reference. If you're someone who likes to clip the reference files, you can find that feature by selecting the reference in the drawing, then right-click and select the Clip Xref and you'll find the same familiar options we have on the Windows platform.
As an example, let's clip this. I'm going to select new boundary. I will create a rectangular clipping boundary, and I'll pick a point here, and I will come down and click another point here. Notice that the clipping boundary remains visible although this boundary will not plot. It's only here to make it easier to modify the clipped reference. If I select the edge, I could adjust these grips, let's drag this back over here. I can also click this arrow to invert the clip.
I am going to press Escape to deselect this geometry. To remove a clipping boundary, I will select the reference again, I will right-click, and select Clip Xref. Now the options aren't showing up at my cursor, they are showing up at the Command Line. Notice there is a Delete option. I am going to a right-click and select Delete. Let's make a quick change to this reference, so we can demonstrate the power of linked geometry. I'm going to select the reference over here on the manager, and then I will right-click and select Open File.
This takes me into the drawing, where I can make a change. I'm going to launch the Move command and I will select this car, and I will press Return, and I will move this up to here. When I'm finished, I will click File and Save and then I will close this drawing. Next, I will right-click on the referenced file and I will select Reload. And as you can see, I'm now seeing the most current version of that file in my drawing.
Now that my file has been updated, I'm going to click in the middle of the manager to deselect the drawing. When you're finished with the Reference Manager, you can dock it to the interface. You can click this icon to minimize it. It can also be closed by clicking this X or by pressing Command+7. As you can see, managing externally referenced drawings on the Mac is virtually identical to the workflow used in the Windows platform. So no matter, how large your project may be, you'll feel completely at home working inside the Mac environment.
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