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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.
Another major interface item AutoCAD uses are palettes. Palettes give us access to commands, settings, drawing content, or calculation tools, among other things. Palettes are also notorious for taking up large amounts of screen real estate. In this lesson, we're going to learn how to optimize our palettes. Let's start by looking at some of the palettes that we have available. To do that, I'll go to the View tab, and, if I come right down here to the Palettes panel, I will find an icon for each of the palettes that I can display in the interface.
One of the palettes that I use frequently is the Properties palette. This guy allows us to change the properties of any selected object. To turn it on, I'll click the icon. Note that you can also toggle the display of this palette using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1. I'll tap Ctrl+1 to turn it off. Ctrl+1 again to turn it on. Just to give you an example of how this tool works, I'm going to click to select this circle, and if we look to the palette, we can see all of the settings that are associated with that geometry.
Right here I can see the radius. Maybe the radius of this circle was supposed to be 3. I'm going to click on this value. I'll type 3 and I'll hit Enter. And notice the circle instantly changes. When I'm finished, I'll hit Escape. So you can see this palette is very handy. It would be nice to have this guy available all the time. Unfortunately, it's quite large. Let's see some of the ways we can apply palettes to our interface. I'm going to start by clicking and holding on this title bar. This is kind of like the handle. I can use this to drag the palette around.
If I get this guy close to the edge of the screen, you can see the shape changes. If I release my mouse button at this point, it will dock the palette to the interface. Now when the palette's in this state, I can click and hold on this edge and I can drag left and right to change the width of the palette. Now this isn't bad, but it is still taking up quite a bit of room. I'm going to try something else. I'm going to move my cursor up and click and hold on the title bar again. I'll drag this guy away, and then I'll release. This time I'm going to right-click on the title bar and I'll select Anchor Left or Anchor Right, depending on which side of the interface you want to go to.
I'll select Anchor Left, and this collapses the palette down to the margin on the left side of my screen. Now, if I want to access the settings, I can hover over the margin, utilize the tools, and then when I move away, it will collapse. Now this is good. I can even take it one step further. If I right-click on the margin and choose Icons Only, I can collapse the palette down to a single icon. Now if I want to access the tools, I hover over the icon, use the tools, and move away.
Having a palette collapsed down this small means that I could have several palettes available on my screen while taking up the absolute least amount of space. In the event I needed this guy to stay open for any length of time, I'll move up and expand it, and then I'll click the Auto Hide button to turn that feature off. That converts the palette back into a docked state. To convert it back into an icon, I will hover over the name bar and I'll click the Minimize button. Knowing what we know now, I'm going to add one more popular palette to my interface, that is the calculator.
The icon is right here. As a side note, the keyboard shortcut for the calculator is Ctrl+8. I'll add this guy to my interface by right-clicking on the name bar and I'll choose Anchor Left. And this guy is now available whenever I need him. When it comes to managing your palette, nothing beats the Anchor feature. Anchoring allows you to squeeze all of the functionality of a palette into a single icon onscreen.
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