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In AutoCAD 2011: Tips, Tricks, and Industry Secrets, Jeff Bartels shows AutoCAD users how to become more efficient power users, reducing the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task, increasing profit margins, and strengthening marketplace competitiveness. The course covers everything from shortcuts used in geometry creation, to program customization, to real world solutions to common problems. Interface customization, block and reference management skills, and express tool usage are also covered. Exercise files are included with the course.
AutoCAD's Ribbon is a very efficient way of launching commands. However, the fastest way to launch commands is by using the keyboard. By typing a command alias, we can launch any command we like, regardless of the current Ribbon tab and without having to move the mouse. In this lesson, we're going to learn how to create a command alias. Now a command alias is simply an abbreviated version of a command name that we type at the command line. For instance, rather than typing line to launch the line command, I'll type l and I'll press enter.
As you can see, I'm in the line command. If I type the letter C and press Enter, we can see that the letter C is associated with the circle command. To be honest, I'm actually not pressing the Enter key. I'm pressing the Spacebar. When working in AutoCAD, the Spacebar acts just like the Enter key. Let's try another alias. I'm going to type S and press the Spacebar and we can see that S is associated with the Stretch command. The nice thing about command aliases is that we can set these up however we like.
We don't have to stick with the out-of-the-box settings. For instance, take a look at the left side of your keyboard. You have the keys Q, W, E, R. Imagine if those four buttons represented your top four drawing commands, Line Circle, Rectangle and Hatch. May be the next row, A, S, D, F, represents your favorite modification tools, Move, Copy, Rotate and Scale. Maybe the next row down represents tools to create dimensions or text.
If you place your left hand over the keyboard while you work, you can launch these commands as fast as you can tap the keys and you never have to worry about the current Ribbon tab or moving your mouse. To create a command alias, I'm going to type aliasedit and I'll press Enter. Now aliasedit is considered an Express Tool. So if you're not seeing this dialog box, it means the Express Tools weren't loaded when you installed AutoCAD. If that's the case, click your Start button, jump out to the Control Panel, select Uninstall a program, and then select AutoCAD 2011 from the list and then click Uninstall/Change.
From here you can select Add or Remove features and then you can come over to this list and make sure that the Express Tools are selected. In my case they are. If yours are not, you can click to put a check in a box and then you can click Next and proceed with adding that feature to AutoCAD. I'm going to close this and return to AutoCAD. Now in the aliasedit dialog box, we can see two columns. The column on the left represents the alias or the keys that we press on the keyboard and the column on the right represents the command that's going to be launched.
To create an alias, I'll click the Add button. Now let's say I'd like the letter Q to launch the Plot command. In the alias area I'll type Q and then I'll click in the AutoCAD command area and I'll type plot, then I'll click OK. As you can see that alias has been added to the list. Also note that we can remove or edit an alias if we wish. I'm going to click OK. I'll overwrite my original configuration. AutoCAD tells me that my command aliases have been updated on my system and I'll click OK.
From now on each time I press Q and tap the spacebar, AutoCAD launches the Plot command. We could now go back to aliasedit and set up additional commands if we like. At this point, you may be wondering if there's an easier way to launch aliasedit. I mean do we always have the type it at the command line? No, we don't. There is an icon. However, we have to turn it on. Remember that aliasedit is considered an Express Tool and Express Tools are optional bonus tools that are loaded separately when AutoCAD is installed.
If the Express Tools are loaded on your system, look in the Ribbon and see if you can see the Express Tools tab. If not, you can load it by typing expressmenu and press Enter. This is something you should only have to do once and the Express Tools tab will be available each time you launch AutoCAD in the future. If I select the Express Tools tab, we can find the ALIASEDIT icon right down here. When it comes to command aliases, you probably don't want to use them for all of your commands.
However, if you create special aliases for your top 10 or 12 commands, you'll be surprised that how much faster you can access your tools.
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