We probably don’t have to tell you that AutoCAD is one of the leading CAD programs available on the market today. Whether computer aided design is in your life as a business or a hobby, it’s likely you rank this particular software fairly highly (if not top) in terms of its design capabilities.
If you’ve taken the plunge and purchased it for yourself, you’ll soon find that it takes time to get to grips with everything AutoCAD has to offer. The sophistication of the technology, advanced user interface and sheer range of available tools can, understandably, be a little overwhelming at first.
For this article we’re going to assume that you’ve had the opportunity to play around with AutoCAD, get comfortable with the interface and establish which tools will be most useful for your particular line of work.
Got the basics firmly under your belt? Great! Now it’s time to take advantage of the AutoCAD commands. Yes, the folks behind the software know that there’s a lot to take in, so they created handy shortcuts that enable you to navigate the controls with ease. Once a few of these commands become second nature, you’ll be producing work in the most efficient way possible.
- About AutoCAD
- What are AutoCAD commands?
- AutoCAD commands: The essentials
- AutoCAD commands: Final thoughts
AutoCAD is the flagship product of the software company Autodesk. Created in 1982 to enable the production of high quality 2D and 3D technical drawings, it was actually the first CAD software developed for PCs.
Though initially designed to cater to the mechanical engineering industry, the capabilities of AutoCAD have since expanded to suit a wide range of professionals including architects and animators.
Today, AutoCAD is considered to be one of the leading design programs available and has grown to be the most widely used CAD software out there. With new applications facilitating mobile-friendly options and use of cloud storage services, the software continues to evolve by integrating technological advancements.
What are AutoCAD commands?
At the bottom of the drawing screen in AutoCAD, you’ll find the command window. Trust us: this handy little box is a lifesaver when you have lots of work to do and you’re up against a deadline.
In the most basic terms, commands and shortcuts are words or letters that you type into the command window to produce an action. For example, if you wish to draw an arc, rather than searching for an arc among the tools, you could just use a command. In this case, type ‘ARC‘ or even ‘A‘ into the command window, press Enter, and an arc will appear.
Some commands come with shortcuts (a single letter alternative), while actions that are a little less common tend to require a command that is 3 or more letters long. AutoCAD recognizes hundreds of commands and, once you get more advanced, you can even customize the toolbar—adding or prioritizing the commands you find to be the most useful.
AutoCAD commands: The essentials
As you can imagine, given the vast capabilities of AutoCAD, there are a lot of commands available. Whether you’re sketching designs, drawing up blueprints, or producing 3D models, there will be commands available to make the job easier. In the interest of saving time and space, this guide includes the ones that we deem to be the most useful. So, let’s get started!
Before getting into the nitty gritty of drawing and modifying commands, it’s important to get to grips with basic actions you require from most computer software. From pasting to spell check, here’s a selection of commonly required instructions:
|AUDIT||Check and remove errors from your work|
|CLOSEALL||Close all of the open windows in AutoCAD|
|CLOSEALLOTHER||Close all open windows except for the one you are currently working on|
|CO/ COPY||Copy objects or text|
|DI/ DISTANCE||Find the distance between two point in a drawing|
|I/ INSERT||Insert (existing block or drawing as a block)|
|LIST||Access the properties of the different objects within a drawing|
|MATLIB||Import or export materials from a library|
|MULTIPLE||Repeat any command without having to press Enter each time (Press Esc key to cancel)|
|OOPS||Restore the last object you deleted|
|OP/ OPTIONS||Open the options window (contains the settings for AutoCAD)|
|PASTECLIP||Paste copied objects from clipboard into your work|
|PREVIEW||See how your work will be presented when printed|
|QSAVE||Autosave the file you’re working on|
|RECOVERALL||Recover and repair a corrupted or damaged drawing|
|RO/ ROTATE||Rotate an object|
|SAVEALL||Save all of the open drawings in AutoCAD|
|SP/ SPELL||Perform spell check on selected text|
|ST/ DDSTYLE||Open the text style window|
|TIME||Access information such as the date you created a certain piece of work, or time spent editing a drawing|
This software is specifically designed with technical drawing in mind, so you’ll find a wide range of geometric shapes and sketching capabilities at your disposal when working in AutoCAD. To save yourself the time of scrolling through the library every time you need a particular line or solid, learn some of these commands:
|A/ ARC||Create an arc|
|AREA||Find the area of closed or open shapes in a drawing|
|AR/ ARRAY||Make a rectangle, polar or path array|
|B/ BLOCK||Create a block|
|BCOUNT||Count the number of blocks in your drawing|
|C/ CIRCLE||Create a circle|
|DS/ DDOSNAP||Open the Drafting Settings window|
|GROUP||Group multiple objects into a single unit|
|HIDEOBJECTS||Hide selected objects in a drawing|
|HIGHLIGHT||Highlight a selected object in a drawing|
|ISOLATE||Hide all objects in a drawing except the one you have selected|
|L/ LINE||Create a simple line|
|MI/ MIRROR||Produce a mirror copy of an object|
|MLINE||Create multiple parallel lines|
|PL/ PLINE||Make a polyline|
|PO/ POINT||Create a single point within a drawing|
|POL/ POLYGON||Produce a polygon (you select the number of sides, from 3 to 1024)|
|QSELECT||Make a particular selection from your drawing according to applied filters, i.e – select all lines below a particular length|
|REC/ RECTANGLE||Create a rectangle|
|SKETCH||Draw a freehand sketch within a piece of work|
Your first draft is complete—now it’s time to play around with the properties and tweak your designs where necessary. For this stage, the following commands are sure to come in handy:
|BASE||Alter the base point of a drawing without changing its origin|
|BREAK||Create a break (or gaps) in objects at one or two points|
|BURST||Explode a block but retain its attribute settings and layer definition|
|CHA/ CHAMFER||Add slanted edges to sharp corners of objects|
|COPYBASE||Copy an object according to a base point|
|DIVIDE||Divide objects into multiple equal parts|
|F/ FILLET||Add rounded corners to the sharp edges of objects|
|LA/ LAYERS||Open the Layer Properties Manage Palette (which allows you to tweak the settings for layers)|
|MA/ MATCHPROPERTIES||Copy the properties of one object onto another|
|MOCORO||Move, copy, rotate and scale an object in one command|
|OVERKILL||Remove overlapping or unnecessary objects from your work|
|PURGE||Remove unused objects from a drawing|
|SC/ SCALE||Change the scale of an object|
|SCALETEXT||Change the scale of text|
|TEXTFIT||Alter the size of a piece of text so that it fits into the required space|
|TEXTTOFRONT||Bring annotations to the front|
|TORIENT||Change the orientation of text|
|TR/ TRIM||Trim a shape or line|
|UNITS||Alter the unit settings of your drawing|
|X/ EXPLODE||Break up an object into its individual components—i.e., a polyline into simple lines|
Fear not—the commands are not exclusive to 2D work! If you’re taking your AutoCAD project to another dimension, there are plenty of commands that can speed up the process. Here’s a brief taster:
|3DALIGN||Align a 3D object with another 3D solid|
|BOX||Create a 3D box|
|FLATSHOT||Convert a 3D drawing into a 2D image and view it from multiple angles|
|HELIX||Create a helix|
|IMPRINT||Imprint a 2D drawing onto the face of a 3D surface within your work|
|INTERFERE||Locate points in a drawing where 3D solids intersect with one another|
|POLYSOLID||Create a 3D wall-like object|
|SECTIONPLANE||Section 3D objects along different planes|
|SURFPATCH||Fill open areas of a surface|
|SURFTRIM||Trim surfaces within a piece of work|
AutoCAD commands: final thoughts
There you have it—an introduction to some of the most useful AutoCAD commands. They really can transform your experience of working with this software and improve overall productivity significantly. Plus, if you reach the level where you’re able to customize the quick access toolbar, you’ll end up with a program tailored to your particular style of work. Mastering the commands is therefore one of the best ways to get the most out of your investment in AutoCAD.
While our list is fairly comprehensive, should you wish to find more, Autodesk include a full guide to shortcuts on their website.