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How To

9 vital AutoCAD tips and tools for new users

Gabriel Paul Gomez

Published

If you work in any professional design field, it’s likely that you’ve heard of AutoCAD. A leading computer-aided design and drafting application, AutoCAD software from Autodesk lets users create accurate two- and three-dimensional representations to develop infrastructure and plan commercial and residential buildings.

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For those just getting started with AutoCAD, here are nine essential tips and tools to remember as you begin familiarizing yourself with this powerful CAD modeling program.

9 vital AutoCAD tips and tools for new users

The Content Explorer tool

After you’ve created an Autodesk account and downloaded AutoCAD, start by getting acquainted with the Control panel, where you’ll find the Content Explorer tool. To search for anything relevant to your current project, click on the Content Explorer and enter your key terms into the search bar. This tool is the quickest way to find the exact content you’re looking for and navigate directly to it. The Content Explorer tool is particularly effective at helping you distinguish between the various layers in your drawings while enabling you to locate any text you’ve embedded therein.

Find any content associated with your AutoCAD drawing with the Content Explorer

The Saveall command

When you’re in the command prompt, you never want to inadvertently lose any of your drawings by closing the application without saving an open project. AutoCAD provides you with a Saveall function to preserve every model you currently have open. This command helps out in a hurry, but it’s also the best way to safeguard your valuable works in progress.

Save each of your open projects at once with AutoCAD's Saveall feature

The Align tool

As you start working with AutoCAD and similar programs, you’ll quickly realize how difficult it is to align your drawings correctly. The mere process of scaling, rotating, and repositioning your model sends it out of alignment. Fortunately, AutoCAD provides a convenient Align tool that instantly brings your drawings back into alignment. Align is a reliable time-saving feature that many experienced AutoCAD users commonly forget about.

The Align tool lets you align your drawing automatically after making various adjustments to your 2 and 3D models

The Lasso Selection tool

AutoCAD took cues from other top graphic design applications at the introduction of its Lasso Selection tool in 2015. Since the software is over 40 years old, many longtime users may not even know this function exists. To activate the Lasso Selection tool, click and hold the left mouse button. Create your lasso by dragging the cursor over the desired selection. You can repeat this process multiple times until you’ve selected all the required objects in your model.

Since 2015, AutoCAD users can activate a lasso selection feature by left clicking the mouse

The Burst Command tool

If you need to separate elements of an object or block, use the Burst Command tool. This feature is the fastest route to separating select elements of your object while keeping the original attributes intact. To use Burst Command, type “burst” into the command prompt. This command will separate each element of the selected object while preserving its original attributes.

Use AutoCAD's Burst Command to separate a block into its components while retaining its original attributes

The Snap to Hatch tool

Previous editions of AutoCAD let you “snap to a hatch.” To the dismay of many experienced AutoCAD users, this feature was eliminated in subsequent releases of the software — only to be reintroduced in the most recent version. To use the Snap to Hatch tool, go to Draft Settings, and click on the Option tab. Navigate to Object Snap Options, and deselect Ignore hatch objects to restore the original “snap to a hatch” function.

Snap lines to existing hatch boundaries by enabling the Snap to Hatch feature from AutoCAD

The MATCHPROP tool

When you create multiple drawings to different specs, matching the relevant attributes of your various models is crucial. One way to go about this is to match the specific properties after you complete each individual drawing. For a more efficient workflow, however, the MATCHPROP tool allows you to choose the properties of each representation you want to match in one place.

Use the MATCHPROP tool to match selected objects to other objects in AutoCAD

PDF Creation

From time to time, you may need to create a PDF copy of your AutoCAD drawings. The program’s default settings allow you to create PDF files easily. To change the original settings, select Plot, choose DWG to PDF from the drop-down menu, and alter the file properties as desired.

Convert files to PDF format directly in AutoCAD

The Closeall command

Like the Saveall option, the Closeall feature lets you close out all the drawings you have open at once. Before using the command, verify that you’ve saved all your open models to avoid losing progress. If you’re working on several drawings at once, the ability to close your projects simultaneously saves time and lets you move on to your next task more efficiently.

Type Closeall in the command prompt and all your drawings close simultaneously

Model your next project with AutoCAD

Getting started with AutoCAD is simple. All you need to do is download the software, create a New project in AutoCAD, and click Start drawing. AutoCAD is a robust computer-aided design and drafting program with one of the best toolkits for generating 2D and 3D drawings. Learn more about an alternative easy-to-use design solution in this recent expert review of Adobe Express.

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