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So, you'd like to draft using metric units. Well, in the big scheme of things, there is a little bit more to drafting in metric than simply changing our unit setting. The first thing we have to understand is that AutoCAD, by default, is set to an Imperial drafting environment. If you look at my screen, you can see I've just launched my AutoCAD 2011, and I'm sitting in the unsaved Drawing1 file. This is the default startup drawing. Let's take a look at our unit settings. I'm going to open up the Application menu. I'll come down to Drawing Utilities, and I'll select Units. Right here, I can see AutoCAD is defaulting to Inches.
Now, let' say I'd like to work in Metric, maybe, I'd like my units to be Millimeters. I wish I could say that it's as simple as clicking this fly-out, selecting Millimeters from the menu, and we're good to go. I'm afraid, that's not the case. There is a little bit more to working in Metric than adjusting this one setting. You see, this setting doesn't account for the scale of my line types or my paper sizes. Watch this! I'm going to click OK to accept this setting, and then I'll come up to the Quick Access Toolbar and launch the Plot command. We'll be talking about plotting a little bit later, but for right now, notice that AutoCAD is still referencing my paper sizes in inches.
So, even though I've adjusted my units, I'm still not working in a fully metric environment. I'm going to move down and click Cancel to close this. The easiest way to work in metric is to start from a metric template. Let's try that. I'm going to start a new drawing by clicking the New icon. In the Select Template dialog box, I'll select this template, acadiso. This template is designed for metric drafting. I'll move over here and click Open. Now, let's take a look at the units in this drawing. Once again, we'll go back to the Application menu, come down to Drawing Utilities, and I'll select Units.
Notice that this drawing, started from the acadiso template, defaults to Millimeters as the unit of measure. I'm going to click the X to close this and let's open up the Plot dialog box. Notice that AutoCAD is now referencing my paper sizes in millimeters. As you can see, I am now working in a metric environment. At this point, you may be wondering what template AutoCAD uses for the default startup drawing. Let's take a look. I'm going to click the New icon and AutoCAD normally starts with this file, the acad template. If you happen to do a lot of metric drafting, you may be wondering if it's possible to use acadiso as your startup drawing.
Let me show you how we can do that. It involves adjusting a user preference. I'm going to close this, and then we'll visit our options. To do that, I'll right-click and I'll select Options from the bottom of the menu. I'll make sure the Files tab is current. I will then click the Plus to open up Template Settings. I'll click the Plus to open up Default Template File Name for QNEW. I'm going to grab this slider. I'll pull it down a little bit to center this setting on screen. I will then select this value and I'll click Browse.
This takes me right back to the Template folder where I can select acadiso and click Open. As you can see, I've now added that path to my new default template file. I'm going to click OK to save the changes. Then let's close out of AutoCAD. Now that I'm back to my Desktop, we'll re-launch the application. As you can see, I'm in the Drawing1 file. Let's take a look at the units in this drawing. As you can see, this drawing is defaulting to Millimeters. Let's close this.
We'll open up the Plot dialog box. This drawing is also defaulting to Metric paper sizes. So, from now on, AutoCAD startup drawing will be defaulting to Metric. Now, if you're like me, once you make a change like this, you may be wondering, how can I put things back the way they were. To restore the original startup drawing, we'll go back to Options. I'll go back to the Files tab, and I'll come down and open up Template Settings. I'll open up the Default Template File Name for QNEW. I'll select my path and I'll click Remove. Then I'll come down and click OK.
From this point on, each time I launch AutoCAD, it will use the original template drawing. If you have a desire to draft using metric units, it's nice to know that AutoCAD can be configured to suit your needs. If you're an occasional metric user, you can simply use the acadiso template when needed. For those of you who use metric units all the time, AutoCAD can easily adapt to a default metric environment.
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