Nine AutoCAD tips to increase productivity and make your life easier

Nick WilliamsBoss on your back? Not enough hours in the day? We could all use an extra edge – right? This week I have 9 AutoCAD tips to help increase your productivity from Guest blogger Nick Williams. Nick – thanks from all of us for your time!

What’s your Favourite AutoCAD Productivity tip?

1. When I start a new drawing using AutoCAD, my drawing doesn’t fit on the screen.

This is a common problem and can be really frustrating but luckily has a simple solution. To solve this we use the Limits command. This sets the extents of the drawing grid and defines the limits of the area you want to be drawing within. Here’s an example:

Type Limits in the Command line, and at the prompt do the following –

Specify lower left corner or [ON/OFF] <0.0000,0.0000>: Type 0,0 and press Enter
Specify upper right corner <420.0000,297.0000>: Type 10000,4000 press Enter

You can now use the Zoom All command. This zooms to the extents of the user-set limits as opposed to Zoom Extents which zooms to the extents of the drawn objects. The screen will now represent an area 10 metres by 4 metres.

2. I want to use AutoCAD Array command, without using the Ribbon.

Love it or hate it, the Ribbon user interface looks like it’s here to stay. If you’re one of those people that prefer the older style AutoCAD array interface there’s some good news; by typing ARRAYCLASSIC into the command line you can use the pre-2009 (non-associative) array command as shown in the photos:

AutoCAD parametric Array command AutoCAD Classic array dialogue box

3. How can I create a collection of Blocks or Objects to make it easier for me to manipulate them?

This is one that I use every day when manipulating a collection of objects in a drawing. Here’s an example: I was exploring the position of a desk in an architectural drawing. Now every time I want to move the desk & chair together I need to select each object separately. As I’m sure you know, this gets boring very quickly. By using the Group command, you can combine a number of objects into a group and by selecting any part of the group, all of the objects in the group are selected.

AutoCAD group commandHere’s how: type GROUP into the command line, at the prompt, Select objects or [Name/Description]: Pick the objects or Blocks you wish to Group, press Enter. They are now grouped and the Group can be manipulated as if it were one object.


Don’t forget you can Ungroup, Edit and Explode these groups.

AutoCAD Group command  AutoCAD Group command - Group selected

4. How do I quickly access the Design Centre?

Little tips like this can really speed up your workflow in AutoCAD and are worth learning. To access the design centre you hold down Ctrl+2.

5. Are there other uses for the Design Centre apart from the obvious Blocks, Layer and Layouts?

If you work in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sectors, you can access a wealth of design content from the internet using Autodesk Seek. Select the icon in the top right hand corner of the Design Centre:

Autodesk seek

This will allow you to access the Autodesk Seek web site. It’s full of free downloadable content from manufacturers, including 3D models, 2D drawings and product specifications.

Autodesk seek - browser

6. How do I change the direction of Zoom on the mouse wheel?

This is one of those small things that can make moving from another design package or learning AutoCAD from scratch all the more easier and enjoyable. To change the zoom direction use the ZOOMWHEEL command. The initial setting is “0”, if “1” is used instead, the direction is reversed. Sp to sum it up:

0 = Roll wheel forward to zoom in; roll wheel backwards to zoom out.
1 = Roll wheel forward to zoom out; roll wheel backwards to zoom in.

7. When I zoom using the mouse wheel it’s not smooth, can I improve this?

Again, this is a small thing that can become really annoying if you start to notice it. To change this use the ZOOMFACTOR command, the initial setting is 60, if you reduce this the zoom should be smoother. Try reducing it to 25 to start with.

8. I have a problem using Scale on an inserted a Block, it measured 423mm and should be 2400mm.

AutoCAD scale command - After scaling

Try the following, type Scale into the command line. When prompted, select the object you want to scale and choose a base point. You will then be prompted for the Scale Factor, select Reference. Enter the Reference length of 423, finally, when prompted enter the new length of 2400.

AutoCAD scale command - Before scaling

9. I need to Move/Rotate an object accurately without knowing the rotation angle?

For this you can use the Align command. This is a really useful command, it moves and rotates an object to the required position all in one go. So, start by typing Align into the command line. Next select the objects that you want to align. Specify a source point (A) and then the corresponding destination point(B). Specify a second source point (C) followed by a second destination point(D). Press Enter twice to end the command and align the object.

AutoCAD Align command - Before  AutoCAD Align command - After

Thanks Nick! Did Nick cover your favourite AutoCAD tip? Make your favourite tip No.10 by leaving it in the comments below :D

7 Responses to “Nine AutoCAD tips to increase productivity and make your life easier

  • Evrim
    6 years ago

    ALIGN is such a useful command.


  • Haley
    7 years ago

    I know this is an old post, but a couple of tips I use all the time that others find handy:

    – Double clicking the zoom wheel on the mouse to zoom extents
    – The fillet command to join & trim intersecting lines in one go. A radius can also be specified & added

    Great list! I love finding out new handy autoCAD hints

    • Hi Haley,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave your tips!

      To build on your fillet/trimming tip – holding down ‘Shift’ whilst filleting will automatically filet with a Zero radius, and your previous fillet radius will be preserved!

      Keep up the great work,


      • Shahbaz Ansari
        6 years ago

        Hi Paul,
        Thanks for this amazing trick.

  • Michel Asboth
    8 years ago

    Nice set of tips! Will share them at my next internal AUG.