AutoCAD Basics: Toolbars and Menus
In AutoCAD, there are many functions that are often overlooked. As is usual with many larger programs, there is a multitude of ways to use the program, and we each use one part, forgetting that there may be several other ways to do the same job.
It’s easiest to do a job when you understand how the menus work, and how you can make them work for you. Putting the right AutoCAD toolbars on the screen, finding the correct commands, and using the shortcut keys are all important to getting the job done quickly.
The AutoCAD Menu and Toolbar System
The classic AutoCAD menu system is based around the typical Windows menu bar at the top of the screen, with buttons like File, Edit, View, Insert, and so on. This is where you can access almost all of the commands. However, there are faster ways to get things done.
Almost everyone has used the shortcut buttons on the toolbar. These buttons are one of the easiest ways to get things done, but many people don’t try to customize the toolbars, as AutoCAD will let you, to what they need for that job. Too many times, people have to go into the menus, slowing the job down.
To customize the toolbars on the screen, right-click on any toolbar. Anything that has a button on it is a toolbar, so you can right-click almost anywhere there is a button. A menu should pop up that allows you to choose any of the toolbars available for AutoCAD. You can remove the toolbars you don’t need, or add the ones that have buttons you use fairly frequently.
One of the fastest ways of getting things done is by shortcut key combinations. You can find out what keyboard shortcuts to use by googling “AutoCAD keyboard shortcuts.” Once you know the most common shortcuts, works tends to go much quicker.
Other Controls in AutoCAD
In the lower left corner of the screen, you should have a row of buttons directly adjacent to the work area. These are for configuring your snap mode and several other options. You can turn them on and off by clicking on them, and configure them by right clicking.
In the very upper right corner should be a search box. You can use this box to search the help files in AutoCAD. Just type in your question, and press enter. You should get a list of files that can help you with whatever you are doing.
These are just the basics of the menu system, but by using the right toolbars and finding the shortcut keys that work for you, you should be able to speed up your drawing times and work more efficiently in AutoCAD.
My AutoCAD 2009 Classic Screen, showing my toolbar setup
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