Troubleshooting AutoCAD selection problems, The ‘PICKFIRST’ System Variable.

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There are a number of problems associated to picking and editing objects in AutoCAD that can be tracked down to the troublesome ‘PICKFIRST’ system variable.


‘When I double click on some Mtext, Nothing happens’

‘When I select an item and then use the Layers drop down, the Item’s layer doesn’t change’


AutoCAD's Selection modes - settings

Check out the ‘PICKFIRST’ System Variable. This Variable Controls whether you select objects before (noun-verb selection) or after you issue a command.

0 Turns off PICKFIRST; you select objects after you issue a command

1 Turns on PICKFIRST; you select objects before you issue a command

You can also set the PICKFIRST value in the ‘OPTIONS‘ Dialogue on the ‘SELECTION‘ tab under ‘SELECTION MODES

An explanation of Noun-Verb selection

AutoCAD has two ways of selecting items and performing commands. Either you can start the command, and then select the item you want the command to process – or you can pick an item, and then start the command. AutoCAD will assume that the item you have selected is the one you want to process.

PICKFIRST’ Controls this behaviour, and it can be affected by ‘The ghost in the machine’, so write that system variable down in your notebook, on a post-it, or on the back of your hand – it’s worth remembering!

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