Join Jeff Bartels for an in-depth discussion in this video Accessing AutoCAD tools, part of AutoCAD 2014 Essentials: 01 Interface and Drawing Management.
Looking around the interface, it's apparent that AutoCAD has no shortage of tools. Fortunately, AutoCAD's tool set are very well organized, making it easy to find what you need. Lets take a look. The first tool space I'd like to look at, is this area at the top of the screen. This is called the Ribbon. And this is where we'll access the majority of our AutoCAD commands. The Ribbon is divided up into tabs, and you can jump from one tab to another by clicking on the tab names. Note that the tab names are task based. This can be very helpful when you're searching for a command. For instance, if I wanted to create dimension or some text, chances are I would find those tools on the Annotate tab.
If I wanted to export some geometry from this file, or create a plot, chances are those commands would be found on the Output tab. Keep this in mind when you're searching for a specific tool. I'm going to click to return to the Home tab. Home represents a general purpose collection of tools, this is the tab that will be current most often. On each tab, you'll find smaller collections of related tools. These are called Panels. With respect to the Home tab, there is a Draw panel.
This contains commands that we can use to create geometry. The Modify panel has tools for editing geometry. The Annotation panel has tools for creating text and dimensions and so on. Take a look at the right side of my ribbon. I'm betting that it looks a little bit different than the ribbon that you see on your screen. That's because I'm recording at a smaller resolution than what you're probably using on your monitor. For that reason, AutoCAD is collapsing some of my panels. This is actually a good thing. It means that you can run AutoCAD on a smaller screen like in Netbook, and still have access to all of your tools.
If I wanted to select a command on one of these collapsed panels. I can simply click on it. Choose My Tool, and when I move my cursor away the panel will collapse. Note that some of the panels contain a small flyout. If you click the flyout, it will expand the panel, giving you access to additional related tools. Once again, when you move your cursor away the panel will collapse. In the event you'd like a panel to stay open, you can click this pushpin, the panel will then remain expanded on screen until such time, as you come back and click to remove the pushpin. I'm going to flip to the Annotate tab momentarily.
You can see that some of these panels contain a small arrow. This arrow represents that there is a dialogue box associated with this collection of tools. For example, if I click the arrow on the Dimensions panel, AutoCAD brings up the Dimension Style Manager. This dialogue box can be used to create or manage dimension styles. I'm going to click the x to close this, and I'll return to the Home tab. Another place where we can find tools in the interface is at the top left of the screen. This is called the Quick Access Toolbar. This toolbar contains the go-to commands, the ones that are so important, we need them onscreen all the time.
Up here we have New, Open, Save, Save As, Plot, Undo, and Redo. One of the nice things about the quick access toolbar is that it's customizable. You can add your own commands to the toolbar if you like. For instance, to add any command from the ribbon, I'm going to use move as an example. Simply right-click on the command and choose Add Quick Access Toolbar. Just as easy adding a tool we can also take these away.
To remove the command, I'll right-click out of the toolbar and select Remove. One final tool space we'll look at, is this red letter A over here in the upper left corner. This icon represents the Application menu, this is where we'll find many of our file maintenance commands. Here we can create new drawings, open drawings. Save or Save As, we can export content, publish, or print. We also have access to Drawing Utilities. This is where we would go to change drawing units, audit the drawing for errors, or purge unused content from a file.
Notice that some of the icons in the application menu, match the icons that we see in the Quick Access toolbar. It's just another way to access some of the same tools. Probably one of the most helpful areas of the application menu is the search box at the top. We can use this to locate commands in the interface. For example, I'm going to click in the search box, and I'll type Plot. When I do, AutoCAD shows me every place we can find the plot command or any command related to plot. Based on the search, we can see the plot is found in the Quick Access Toolbar, it's also in the Application menu.
We can also find on the ribbon. It's on the Output tab, within the Plot panel. Now, I could navigate there directly to launch this command, but you know what, these options also act like hyperlinks. If I click right here, AutoCAD lets me launch the Plot command directly. We'll talk about Plot in a little bit. For right now, I'm going to click the x to close this dialog box. As you can see, AutoCAD certainly has a large collection of tools. Fortunately, they are extremely well organized, making it easy to quickly access any tool you may need.
- Launching AutoCAD
- Accessing the tools
- Saving a workspace
- Monitoring the status bar
- Understanding the anatomy of a command
- Opening a drawing
- Zooming, panning, and regenning
- Working in a multiple-document environment
- Saving your work