AutoCAD Shortcuts – The Basics
Anyone just starting out in architecture, or possibly new to AutoCAD will be unaware of the level of complexity that can be achieved by merely typing in a shortcut on the keyboard. The program is deep, offering the user a myriad of options, which can appear overwhelming to beginners. Luckily, you only need to know a few basic tools to become an efficient AutoCAD user. Below is an introduction to the most basic of AutoCAD shortcuts, which should have you up and running and an efficient CAD drawing machine in no time!
F1 – Help Dialogue Box
The help dialogue box on AutoCAD can at times provide nothing but more confusion, but if you can manage to sift through the jargon, the answers to most of your questions are there and waiting.
F3 – OSNAP Toggle
This toggles the Object Snap control on and off. The ability to snap any object to another is very useful, and can greatly increase the speed you can draw.
F8 – ORTHO toggle
Orthogonal tool. You want your lines to be nice and straight, this is the command that controls this. When on, EVERYTHING happens in a straight line (although aligning to an object can override it). OK, now we come to the ‘tools’, the things that are going to actually enable you to draw up your survey or scheme. The following list is by no means everything. Not even close. It is however the selection of tools that I use 99% of the time, and they are the few that I believe are essential to drawing in AutoCAD.
A – ARC
If you want to draw a curved line, but not an entire Circle or Ellipse, then ARC is your tool. It allows you to draw a nice and quick ARC between 2/3 points with ease. Great too if you don’t need to worry about exact dims.
CO – COPY
You can use the usual cut/copy/paste commands that extend across all PC’s, but the COPY command allows you to copy an object from its base, to another location, without it being pasted in. What this means is it is very easy to make sure you can copy an object from a specific point, or make sure it aligns with the original.
DI/DIST – DIST
Want to know how long a line on your drawing is, without having the dimensions sprawled across your page? DIST is the tool you need. By clicking at either end of your line, DIST will show you the length of the line in the dialogue box at the bottom of your page.
DIV – DIVIDE
A fine example of when to use the DIVIDE tool is when designing a new set of stairs. You know the distance between the 2 floors, and you know roughly how many steps you need. Draw a line, and use the DIV tool to divide that line equally into the number of segments you require. Need 14 steps? simples.
EL – ELLIPSE
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Draws Ellipses.
EX – EXTEND
There are times when you need a line/curve to extend an meet another point. There are a few ways you can do this, and EXTEND is one of them. Once an ‘extend to’ line has been chosen, it is a simple matter of clicking on the lines/curves that you want to extend to meet that line. Easy!
F – FILLET
If you are working on lines that you require to meet at a corner, rather than fussing around, just use the FILLET tool. This tool will join them together at a point where they both meet if you were to extrude them along their current lines.
H – HATCH
HATCH allows you to apply a pattern (be it brick, concrete, solid fill) to an object. You can create an object by selecting lines that create an ‘area’ to be filled.
L – LINE
The most basic of tools. This allows you to draw single lines. They begin and end with the first and second clicks. If you are drawing a second line from the firsts’ end point, then that line BEGINS at the firsts’ second point, and then has its own second point.
M – MOVE
Want to move something without making a copy of it? MOVE tool.
MA – MATCHPROP
All of the objects you work with on screen are assigned a look, based upon the layer they are on. At the beginning, you probably wont work too much with layers, but they become extremely helpful when you want to identify different areas of your drawing (say, external walls from internal). MATCHPROP allows you to easily match the layer properties of one object to another. A very quick way of changing an objects layer.
O – OFFSET
If you need a line that is the same as another, but 100mm to the right, this is your tool. (Same can be achieved with the COPY tool).
PL – POLYLINE
Sometimes a single line isnt enough, and you may want all the lines you draw at that time to be joined together as one object. This is your tool.
RE – REGEN
When working on larger drawings, AutoCAD selects the level of detail something needs based on how far out or in you are zoomed. If you are zoomed out to view an entire street, there is no need to show a door handle as perfectly round. The downside to this is that when you do zoom in, AutoCAD simply wont have enough detail cached to then render out the door handle correctly. REGEN regenerated the drawing so what is now on your screen appears as it should.
REC – RECTANG
If you want t draw a rectangle, this is a nice quick way to do it. You can of course draw one with the line tool, but they will be separate entities.
RO – ROTATE
Self explanatory, surely?
SC – SCALE
If something on your screen is at the wrong size, this is where you need to go. A hard tool to master at first, but offers very accurate scaling.
TR – TRIM
Did you draw a line too long? Use this tool to trim it back to an intersecting point.
XL – XLINE
I personally like to make sure all things align on my drawings. XLINE draws lines that go on for infinity in both directions. Perfect if you want to make sure your floor levels are the same throughout your sections. These really are just a snippet of the control that you can exert over AutoCAD. If you think I’ve missed any essential tools out, why not let us know through the comments section!