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

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!

22 Responses to “Troubleshooting AutoCAD selection problems, The ‘PICKFIRST’ System Variable.

  • Nestor
    6 years ago

    Every time a make a dimension line or arrow my screen shown square with dot inside

  • Thami
    6 years ago

    Im using autocad 2011, once i select the object first before command, the modify toolbars does not wok

    • Hi Thami,

      Have you tried the advice in the article?

      If it doesn’t help, please post your problem in the AutoCAD forums:

      Not only will you get a quicker and more comprehensive answer than I can give, but the solution will be logged for future AutoCAD users to learn from.

      If you do write a post on the forum, remember to come back here and post a link in reply to this comment so that we can follow your progress!

      Thanks very much,


  • Almuzn
    7 years ago

    Thank you so much !! This was very helpful !

  • Jyotiranjan Behera
    7 years ago

    Thank u so much Sir….

  • THANK YOU so much…………..

  • thanks soooo much

  • bubala
    9 years ago

    iam using autocad 2015 mechanical, please give detail on how to change pick first from 1:0 to 0:1

  • shamir
    12 years ago

    i have problem in autocad 2010 HOW TO REMOVED OSNEP SCROL BATON

    • Hi Shamir,

      I’m sorry – I don’t understand the question. Please could you clarify it?


  • mahas
    12 years ago

    thanks a lot sir

  • Kamlesh
    12 years ago

    i have problem in autocad 2013.when it is getting on Internet explorer pages occurs more than 10 pages automatically and also it get hangup
    it is Network license

  • Sean,

    Have you tried setting ‘Pickfirst’ to 1?

    Next make sure ‘Pickadd’ is also set to 1


  • Hello,

    I am trying to select multiple objects, but after i select the first object, and i select the second object the first object is not selected now.

    how can i fix this?

  • Mmccartney
    13 years ago

    The Cad Model is being modified, but when I view the Modified layout it does not show the changes.
    What is wrong.

    • Hi Mmccartney, thanks for your comment. Could you supply a little more detail? What software are you using? Is it a 3D model? Can you attach a screen shot?

      Fill me in on he details and I’ll see if I can help you out.