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How to draw fast in AutoCAD: AutoCAD shortcut commands
The following hub describes one method on how to increase productivity in AutoCAD and how to maintain that productivity when new versions of AutoCAD are released. With the release of an AutoCAD update there is usually an introduction in new screen layout, toolbar icons and feature changes that slows down your productivity as you try to familiarize yourself with these changes.
This article also assumes that you have a working knowledge on how to use AutoCAD although the earlier you can implement these ideas, the easier they will be to master. This article also assumes that you use the mouse in your right hand, i.e. that you are right handed. However you may be able to adapt these techniques for left hand use.
Background and Method
Command input into the AutoCAD interface has gradually progressed over years. In its infancy, when AutoCAD was a DOS (Disk Operating System) based program (AutoCAD Release 12), command entry was via the keyboard, on screen menus or by an electronic tablet board with pointer. Screen tool bar command entry was only introduced when AutoCAD migrated to a Windows based program.
Keyboard entry of commands has not changed over the last decade of AutoCAD releases, even from “DOS” days. This is the method of command entry that I have fine tuned to increase productivity in AutoCAD drafting.
Keyboard entry commands are either long hand or shorthand. For example if you would like to draw a line the long hand keyboard entry would be LINE and the short hand keyboard entry would be L. What I have done is to change (customize) the standard AutoCAD short hand (or short cut) keyboard entry commands so that the most commonly used are on my left hand. With this method I am able to keep my left hand on the keyboard and my right hand on the mouse. My head can remain level, looking at the monitor as I don’t have to see which keys to hit to enter commands from all over the keyboard.
Based on touch typing finger placement you will have to arrange your left hand (or right if you change these instructions to suit yourself) on the left hand side of the keyboard. That is with your index finger on the F key, middle finger on the D key, ring finger on the S key and baby finger on the A key. Please refer to the following diagram.
List of New Short Hand Keyboard Commands
The following list shows the most common AutoCAD short hand keyboard entry commands that I have changed to suit my left hand.
AS = MIRROR
BR = BREAK
CC = CIRCLE
DR = LINE
DF = POLYLINE
E = ERASE
ET = OFFSET
EX = EXPLODE
TR = TRIM
Q = LIST
R = REDRAW
RE = REGEN
RT = ROTATE
SE = POLYLINE EDIT
X = EXTEND
Z = ZOOM
Some of these commands you may already be using, eg Z = ZOOM and some of these command changes will look very foreign. You can change any of these commands to suit your way of thinking. For example I changed LINE from L to DR to get it onto the left side of the keyboard and I used DR because I wanted to “DRaw a line”.
Other commands already existed and I needed to get around this. For example standard AutoCAD command for CIRCLE was CI as it takes the first two letters of circle. To get and alternative I couldn’t use plain C as this was already the command for COPY, so I simply made CC short for CIRCLE.
The following paragraph will show you how to change your keyboard entry commands.
How to customize your keyboard entry commands in AutoCAD
You will need to modify a text file in your AutoCAD support directory called ACAD.PGP. This file located in the following directory:
C:\Documents and Settings\Your User Name\Application Data\Autodesk\AutoCAD 10\R18.0\enu\Support
(Note: I am using AutoCAD 10, therefore select your current version of AutoCAD under the Autodesk directory)
Once you have located the file you should save a copy in the same directory and call it something like ACADPGP.OLD. You can now open the ACAD.PGP file by double clicking it and selecting the windows text editor program (if it does not already open up in windows text editor or similar).
Scroll down through the file until you find the list of commands. The list will be long and will start like this:
To enter a new command, return a new line down after an existing command. Try to put your new command in alphabetical order. If the command already exists you can put a hyphen (‘) in front of the old command and insert your new command. The new command will have to be entered in the same way that the other commands are entered. Also after the command short hand and then the comma, make sure you use a space bar and not the tab key to get to the asterisk. For some reason your new command will now work if you use the tab button.
Example of a replaced existing command:
Once you have made your changes make sure you save the file and then exit the ACAD.PGP file. For the changes to take effect you will have to exit AutoCAD (if you were still in an AutoCAD session) then re-enter AutoCAD.
With your fingers on the correct keys and your new command list printed and at your side as a reference you should be able to increase your drafting speed over time. It will feel alien to you at the start and you will be looking at your finger placement and keys quite a bit. But with time and practice you will improve and your keystrokes and your AutoCAD keyboard entry will become quite fast.
If your speed is not improving and you are struggling just hang in there. Try not to watch which keys you are typing and try not to revert to your old keyboard entry commands. This method is easier to master if you have had Touch Finger Typing experience and you are new to AutoCAD. This way you can get in early and learn the commands from the start. But anybody should be able to adapt these principles and learn how to increase your productivity and draw fast in AutoCAD.