Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

Lost your Block Authoring Palettes?

8 July 2009

Yesterday one of our more advanced AutoCAD users had a peculiar problem. When using the Block Editor to edit dynamic blocks, he was not seeing the usual block authoring palettes (these are the tool palettes containing actions, parameters etc.) Instead he was seeing only the regular office tool palettes. So he was unable to create dynamic blocks.

Well, after a bit of messing around, I found that the path in Options/Files/Authoring Palette File Locations had been fiddled with to include one of the office palettes. I’m not sure how this happened, but I know that one of our CAD “gurus” has been playing with tool palettes. Anyhow, removing this stray entry fixed the problem.


AutoCAD 2008 Slow Startup Fix

5 June 2008

You or your users may have noticed that AutoCAD occasionally takes a ***long*** time to start. Apparently there are a number of issues related to Autodesk’s communication modules. These are the modules which use your net connection to “phone home” to check for updates etc. Sometimes one of these will stop responding and freeze the system until they time out a minute or two later.
They can cause other error too, such as the “pure virtual function call” C runtime error.
Fortunately, there is an easy fix by editing the demand load registry key at
Change the LOADCTRLS value to 0 to disable demand loading.
More info from Owen Wengerd’s excellnt blog at

Moribund Overkill

13 March 2008

For quite a few years now, AutoCAD’s Express tools have included a great command called “Overkill.” It’s found in the Express pulldown menu, under Modify/Delete duplicate objects. Or you can simply type “overkill” at the command line.

However, users have complained that it often doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do when you give it a mixture of lines and polylines. If, for example, you select both a polyline and line drawn on top of each other, overkill doesn’t work. Funny that, because I’m sure it used to work properly in earlier AutoCADs!

Anyway, after a lot of stumbling around, and bearing in mind the previous comment, I’ve discovered that overkill seems to be dependent on the PEDITACCEPT system variable. We all breathed a sigh of relief when PEDITACCEPT was introduced to AutoCAD in around version 2004. Naturally, we set it to 1 so we wouldn’t get that annoying message asking if we were sure we wanted to turn it into a polyline (doh – what do they think we were using the pedit command for, then?)

Now, it seems that setting PEDITACCEPT to 1 kills that function in the overkill command. If you set PEDITACCEPT to 0 before you run overkill, then it works. Set PEDITACCEPT back to 1 after you finish and all will be tickety-boo!

AutoCAD Tool Palette Rollup and Rollout Speed

29 May 2007

I’ve found the “new” user interface elements in AutoCAD, such as Tool Palettes, to be a real time saver and thus a worthwhile enhancement. However, they sometimes drive me mad by hanging about and obscuring stuff that I want to see! Basically, I find that the speed of appearing and disappearing is too slow for me. I was sure that there was a way to change that speed, but could never find it. Until now, that is….

Shaan Hurley of Autodesk maintains a blog called Between The Lines on the Autodesk site. It’s a fantastic resource, and one that’s worth keeping an eye on. Recently, he published an article which describes exactly how to change the rollup / rollout speed of tool palettes. It’s worth repeating here, so you can give it a go. Find the original article and many more like it at

And I quote:

“A huge Thank You to John Beltran of the AutoCAD Software Development Team for this excellent explanation of how to change the speed of the Tool Palette Rollout and Rollup. I have been asked this question several times as some want a slower speed and some want a faster almost instant click rollup and roll out. Please use caution when editing your profiles and be sure to back them up first before experimenting with them.

The timer settings for rollup, rollout, the new “roll out then rollup” (called “holdopen”) are stored in the fixed profile XML file. By default these settings are not specified and the defaults are used. You can add these settings to the file by editing it to provide non-default values for each of these behaviors.

To make the changes first back up the “” file in your support/Profiles directory and then edit it using any text editor. The file will be hard to read because it is not well formatted, but thankfully the changes to make are near the top of the file.

Search for the word ” <AcApData> ” (should be right at the top), and immediately after this string paste in the following:

<PaletteRolloutInfo PaletteRolloutDelay="100"/>
<PaletteRollupInfo PaletteRollupDelay="800" PaletteHoldopenDelay="4000"/>

It’s OK to insert carriage returns or additional white space in this file, just be sure to not introduce any returns/spaces in the middle of a word (like “PaletteRolloutDelay” or value). Each of the values is specified in milliseconds. In the sample above the values provided are the same as the defaults (1/10th second rollout delay, 8/10th second rollup delay, 4 second holdopen delay). These changes are global and affect all palettes.

So to change the holdopen delay to 3 seconds use:
<PaletteRollupInfo PaletteRollupDelay="800" PaletteHoldopenDelay="3000"/>

You will need to restart AutoCAD for these changes to take effect.”

Free AutoCAD Drawing Viewer Available

10 November 2006

One of the few free products that can read the AutoCAD 2007 DWG file format, Informative Graphics has release a free drawing file viewer. It can view measure and control displayed layers in both DWG and DWF files.

I’ve tried it out here (on Acad 2006 DWG’s) and it does work well. However, a limitation in the free version is that you can’t print anything. To get printing ability, you have to “upgrade” to the paid for version. Oh well.

Still, it’s a useful addition to your toolbox and at least the price is right!

Get it at

New AutoCAD 2007 Bonus Tool

1 November 2006

Well, who’d a thought it? After a long hiatus, Autodesk have finally released a cool new Bonus Tool called Drawing Tabs.

(For the younger readers, I’d better explain… Many years ago, in a land far away, Autodesk used to regularly release add-on goodies for AutoCAD. These were nearly always useful and well worth grabbing They included many functions which are now in the core AutoCAD program, such as layer picking and xref management tools. Unfortunately, they’ve been rather thin on the ground lately, so this is a welcome return to form.)

The new Drawing Tabs tool allows you to quickly navigate the files which are currently open in your drawing session. It takes the form of a bar at the top of the drawing window with a tab for each open drawing file. If you’ve used Excel, you’ll be right at home here. The only limitation seems to be that it only works on AutoCAD 2007 and above (like MS Paintbrush!)

Find it at

Here’s a screen shot: