AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts, easy productivity hack!

AutoCAD Keyboard ShortcutsThanks very much to Nick Williams of Acuity training for this excellent AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts productivity hack.

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When it comes to interacting with AutoCAD, for better or worse we all fit somewhat into one of three user types:

  1. The Keyboard King – he/she works almost exclusively with the keyboard and mouse, and takes pride in having memorised many of the commands within AutoCAD.
  2. The Mixed Master – he/she likes to mix it up opting for a combination of keyboard-entered commands as well as the occasional use of AutoCAD’s toolbars and ribbons.
  3. The Ribbon Navigator – he/she navigates the sea of AutoCAD ribbons and toolbars with ease, and finds comfort in doing so.

No one approach to AutoCAD is better than the other, however in many cases there is only so much time that can shaved from tasks by customising ribbons and toolbars. This may be a hard fact to face for the Ribbon Navigators out there.

However if you are to truly increase your speed you should look to introduce some AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts to your gameplay.

To some that have avoided using keyboard-entered commands altogether this may seem like a daunting task. Fear not though as this article will explain how simple it is to make full use of keyboard shortcuts within AutoCAD. Meaning they will be more memorable than ever, and most importantly customised to your needs.

As you are probably aware in the early days of AutoCAD the only way to enter a command was to type it, in many cases though this is only marginally faster than using ribbons and toolbars.

By making use of keyboard shortcuts true efficiencies can be made to your workflow, no matter if you are already a die hard keyboard user or somebody who naturally gravitates towards the use of AutoCAD’s ribbons and toolbars.

Default AutoCAD Shortcuts

AutoCAD commands can often be long winded and hard to type especially if they are being used repeatedly. As such command shortcuts have been part of the software for some time now.

Sadly many users do not make use of them (some Keyboard Kings included). The table below shows some of the One Key Shortcuts included within the software by default:

Alias Command Alias Command Alias Command

Table 1, Default AutoCAD One Key Aliases (Shortcuts)  

It is highly likely that you have used some of the shortcuts outlined within Table 1 at some point, if not they are a good first base in your journey towards mastering shortcuts. To observe all of the shortcuts contained within AutoCAD though, open the software’s PGP File.

  1. To open the PGP File, select Edit Aliases from the Edit Aliases dropdown menu within the Customization section of the Manage ribbon:

AutoCAD Edit Aliases

Alternatively enter the command AI_EDITCUSTFILE, and then enter “acad.pgp” (use “acadlt.pgp” if using AutoCAD LT)

  1. This will open the software’s Programme Parameters (PGP) File.

Note: The PGP File is a notepad file contained within AutoCAD’s Support folder of your computers C Drive. If you are you using a pre 2004 version of AutoCAD or having trouble opening it from within AutoCAD navigate to it in this way using your computer’s default file explorer.

  1. Scroll down through the PGP File until you find a list of shortcuts and their relevant command:

AutoCAD PGP Shortcuts file

A lot can be learned from the PGP File. You may wish to “copy and paste” out or print the extensive list of AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts contained within the PGP File, for future reference.

One tip could be to print out the .PGP file and keep it beside you on your desk. Referencing the list on an ad hoc basis, as and when needed, could see the shortcut commands slowly creep into your working routine.

Making Your Own AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts

While printing a list of the default AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts and referring to it on an “as you go basis” may help some users, this is certainly not the fix for all.

Often the best solution is to create your very own keyboard shortcuts. After all the PGP File contained within your AutoCAD software is designed to have users edit it as required.

  1. To edit the PGP File, select the Command Aliases button contained within the Tools section of the Express Tools ribbon:

AutoCAd Edit Aliases Express Tool

Note: While the previous steps highlighted how to access the PGP File, this is recommended approach to editing it.

  1. This will open the AutoCAD Alias Editor window, which includes a list of all of the default short cuts contained within the PGP File:

AutoCAD Alias Editior

  1. After checking that the command you wish to create a shortcut for does not already have an alias, click the Add button contained within the AutoCAD Alias Editor.

Note: If the command you wish to shorten already has an alias you can change the shortcut to something of your liking by selecting the Edit button rather than the Add button. Further note that is possible to have multiple aliases attached to one command, so do not get too focused on this point.

  1. The key to increasing your chances of creating a shortcut that you will use on a regular basis is to make it as memorable as possible. There are no rules to making shortcuts though; as far as AutoCAD is concerned you can make the alias anything you like so long as it is not already in use.

Note: For aliases already in use you may want to consider editing the command it is attached to, or removing the shortcut altogether if you simply do not require the shortcut. To remove shortcuts use the Remove button within the AutoCAD Alias Editor.

  1. Once you have selected the Add button this will open the New Command Alias window.
  1. Enter the shortcut you wish you to use in the Alias box (1), and the command you wish to apply it to within the AutoCAD Command box (2):

AutoCAD new command Alias

  1. If the alias is already in use you will get something similar to the following message (indicating that a duplicate has been found). Click the Yes button to redefine it:

AutoCAD duplicate alias found

Note: If you are struggling to create a shortcut because the desired alias is already taken, consider a system based on the first letter of the command. If you want to use A as the alias for the ARRAY command (taken by the ARC command by default) consider using AA (taken by the AREA command by default) or AAA instead.

In cases such as this where you have conflicting aliases consider which command you use most. If you use ARRAY more than ARC and ARC more than AREA, you may wish to set up your shortcuts as follows:

AutoCAD Command Aliases

  1. When you are happy with the modifications you have made within the AutoCAD Alias Editor click the Apply button, Click Yes to indicate that you want to overwrite the PGP File to reflect your newly made modifications:

Saving an AutoCAD PGP file

  1. Exit the AutoCAD Alias Editor by clicking the OK button. Upon successfully applying the changes made within the AutoCAD Alias Editor the following message should appear, again click the OK button:

Save AutoCAD PGP file

  1. Because AutoCAD does not constantly monitor changes to the PGP File the modifications you have made within the AutoCAD Alias Editor are not effective immediately. Close and reopen AutoCAD for the changes to take effect.

Alternatively enter command REINIT and check the PGP File box of the Re-initialization window:

Re-init Re-initialise an AutoCAD PGP file

Finally click the OK button; this will prompt AutoCAD to recheck the PGP File as if opening the software from scratch. In turn eliminating the need to close and reopen AutoCAD before you can start using your new or newly modified shortcuts.


As we have discussed in previous articles, customisation is king when it comes to increasing productivity in AutoCAD. There is however only so much time that can be saved by using ribbons and toolbars, no matter how much you modify and adjust them.

If you are to truly increase your speed in AutoCAD you need to make an effort to introduce some keyboard skills. Memorable AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts are a great way to achieve this.

This article has covered:

  • The benefits of using AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • The function of the PGP File within AutoCAD.
  • How to access the PGP File.
  • How modify and create new shortcuts by editing the PGP File.


Click here to download the official Autodesk PDF of AutoCAD Shortcut keys.

6 Responses to “AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts, easy productivity hack!

  • There is a new solution for shortcuts, it lets you to customize shortcuts much easier and run them by pressing just one key instead of two or more. It’s implemented by adding an AutoCAD mode to your keyboard.

  • Alagupandi
    8 years ago

    Very use the you are cad shortcut keys .

  • Great article. One thing I’d like to add is…being right handed, I’ve made a number of my PGP short cuts for my left hand. Things line “PLINE” is “1”, “MATCHPROP” is “2”, “MLEADER” is “3”. This keeps my left hand in it’s “normal” place on the keyboard and keeps my right hand on my mouse. It takes a little memory work to start out, but then becomes second nature with some practice.

    • That’s a great tip Mike :)

      It reminds me of this article by Evan Yares, where he talks about the use of a ‘Launch pad’ programmed with all commands as a sequence of numbers:

      Here is my key take away:

      In the case of the Launchpad, the improvements come from two areas:

    • Converting controlled cognitive processes (things you have to think about, such as finding and selecting commands) to automatic cognitive processes (things you don’t have to think about.)
    • Reducing “split attention,” where you have to shift focus to different parts of the screen (for command entry.)
    • Paul