Take charge of AutoCAD’s layers with Layer Filters

Thanks very much to Jaiprakash Pandey for this excellent guest post on AutoCAD’s layer filters.

If you have something to say, and you need to write it down before you burst! Please don’t! (Burst). Instead, feel free to submit your ideas as a Guest post to Cadsetterout.com. Contact me for details.

Over to Jaiprakash…

Why filter layers?

The obvious answer is you have to! As you progress in your project you will find that your list of layers becomes large enough to frustrate you. Finding a layer of your choice can become daunting!

To overcome this you need to create layer filters allowing you to categorize layers based upon certain properties or your preferences. You can then look for your preferred layer among that shorter filtered list.

Property filter

This type of layer filter is created to make a list of layers based upon properties like color, linetype or layer state (on/off, Freeze/thaw & lock/unlock). Let’s start by creating a layer state filter

AutoCAD layer dialogue new property filter

Creating filter based upon layer state

Click on property filter located on top left of layer property manager window (see image). A layer filter window will pop up provide name of filter. In this case I am providing name LOCK (1).

Now go to ‘Lo… or Lock’ on filter definition and click on the box (2). A drop down window will appear. Select the lock symbol from menu and click ok (3).

A new LOCK property filter will be added to the filters tree and all the locked layers will be mentioned in that layer filter.

Tip: You can use a similar workflow to create filters for on/off, freeze/thaw, plot, linetype, lineweight etc.

AutoCAD Layer properties filter by property

Creating filters based upon color

For creating color specific layer filter click on the property filter icon. Now go to color tab on filter definition and click on the blank area under COLOR tab. A box will pop up. Click on that box and you will find select color window. Now go on and select your color and click ok.

A new property filter will be added containing all layers with color you selected.

Creating filters based on Name

This is probably the most important usage of property filters.

Here you can make filters based upon the name of layers. To create filters based on layer name, go to property filter and assign a new name to the filter. Now click once in the name box of filter definition. You will find that a cursor appears followed by star *. Now enter any letter and all layers starting with that letter will be selected. Press ok to create a filter with all layers starting with your selected letter.

There may be situations when you want to make a filter such that only it’s third and fourth letters are known to you (or any letters at specific occurrence of the layer name).

For the sake of this example I will assume that we want to create a filter where third and fourth letters are F and P respectively. Here is the syntax:


this syntax indicates that the first two letters can be anything indicated by question mark (?)

The third and fourth letters are F and P respectively. The asterix * indicates that remaining letters can be anything.

Similar syntax can be used for making filters where you need to select layers based upon letters at certain places in their names. Just keep adding question marks for number of letters unknown in the beginning then add required letters, then end it with * indicating remaining letters can be anything.

AutoCAD Layer properties filter by name

Making Group filters

At times you might need to make a filter that does not have any specific property, you just want to choose the layers yourself.

To make a group filter select group filter icon placed next to property filter icon on layer properties manager. A new group filter will be added to the filters tree. Assign a name to your new group layer filter (To rename a filter later, you can also select contextual menu after right clicking on it and select rename to assign a name to the filter).

Tip: Click on ALL in filters tree to make all layers visible.

Now all you need to do is drag and drop filters from your filters list to Group filter on filter tree you just created. To remove a layer from group filter select that layer from filter and right click and select ‘Remove from group filter’ from the contextual menu.

Note: Make sure you don’t delete from the contextual menu else the layer will be deleted from your drawing file as well!

Layer filter best practices

AutoCAD’s layer filters work particularly well with a layering standard such as the AIA ‘American Institute of Architects’ layering standard.

For example:

‘L-FP-Door’ = L for landscape, FP for floor plan and ‘Door’ is the name of the component.

‘A-CP-Dim’ = A for Architectural CP stands for ceiling plan and ‘Dim’ stands for dimensions.

The main advantage of following an abbreviated layer naming standard is that, once you make a property filter with name starting with ‘A’ all the Architectural layers will be filtered. To make a filter of all architectural floor plan layers you need to make a property filter with name A-FP-* and layers will be filtered.

Tip: Empty layer filters can Bloat your AutoCAD DWG File. Find out how to purge layer filters here.

Over to you…

Do you use AutoCAD’s layering functions? Will you give them a try in the future? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Will you give AutoCAD Layer filters at try?

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Would you like to know more about working smarter with AutoCAD Layers? Read this post:

AutoCAD Layering productivity, never use the Layers pull down again!

17 Responses to “Take charge of AutoCAD’s layers with Layer Filters

  • H Paul
    Do you know a way to transfer layer filters created in one drawing to another drawing with no layer filters? I don’t mean layer states as these are temperamental and always mess up especially when it comes to x-refs. Any tips would be great on this as I am having to create and manage them individually in each file, and across a full set of documentation it can be extremely tedious!
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Carl,

      It seems like this feature is only available in AutoCAD verticals such as Architectural desktop and Civil.

      A work around is to insert a copy of your DWG that has the layer filters into a DWG that doesn’t?

      It might be better to define your layer filters in your template file so that they are always ready for use.

      I hope that helps,


    • Mandy
      8 years ago

      In the layer manager, you can load a Layer filter group og save a Layer filter group.

      If you want to move you moved you grouped layer filter from one drawing to another drawing with no layer filter.

      With 2016 version Civil 3D or AutoCad

  • How about a layer filter for ‘layers containing objects’ – like ACTUAL objects.
    I would think this is an obvious need but here it is 2015 and no such tool. Or am I missing something?

  • I have been using Autocad for 12 Years and I still have things to learn. Thanks for sharing

  • I never found the filters very useful until I started working with clients where the layers were in the hundreds … One of them has 1,700 layers. This is where filters are great. Another great tutorial.

  • JPS1985
    9 years ago

    Wow, glad to find an article that properly explains the ins and outs of layer filters, it has been years since I remembered how to do it. Long gone are the days of me having to select all layers and deselecting the ones that I either did or didn’t want to turn them on or off. *PHEW* THANK YOU!

  • Connie
    9 years ago

    I just found the answer from https://sites.google.com/site/cadkits/autocad-faq/autocad-tips/how-to-only-display-none-xref-layers

    How to only display non-xref layers?
    Open Layer Manager dialogue.
    Create a new Property filter, name it as “No Xref”.
    In Layer Filter Properties dialogue, define the Name as “~*|*”, then OK.
    Select the new filter.
    Now, in the pull-down layer toobar, only non-xref layers display.

  • Connie
    9 years ago

    I often want to just choose from the active layers (whether or not they are used) in the drawing, not just the x’ref layers. Can you create a layer filter based on that property? I know I can create a group, but if I add a layer, I will have to remember to add it to the group, and it is a bit time consuming, so I would rather if there is some symbol I can add to the name in the properties filter that indicates it is not an x-ref, and then I could add this easily to all my drawings.

  • Connie
    9 years ago

    I often want to just choose from the active layers (whether or not they are used) in the drawing, not the x’ref layers. Can you create a layer filter based on that property?

  • Really nice guys.

    The info on Autocad can be daunting and even after 15 years of using it I still find things I didn’t know or used.