You want me to do WHAT??

Since the dawn of AutoCAD, the debate has raged on regarding drawing setup and project management. Model space versus paper space drafting. External references…yay or nay. Truth is…there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. One would think though, that the software makers would have included these tools for a reason. Not utilizing the software to its fullest potential is a common theme among the AutoCAD users I’ve encountered. The question remains. Why?

My humble opinion is this. We (generalizing AutoCAD users) make excuses. “I don’t have enough time to learn everything.”, “My company won’t pay for training.” “It’s just the way we’ve ALWAYS done it!” We get into a comfortable rut, chugging along with the tools and procedures that we know, acknowledging that more tools are available for our use, but refusing to delve in the unknown. In a way, we are cheating our employers and clients of increased productivity, simply because we are comfortable. Can we or should we change this culture? If so, How?

How many times have we upgraded our AutoCAD version, only to immediately customize the interface so it looks like the last version? I’m sure there are many of us “old schoolers” who still type in commands or overuse shortcut keys (guilty). I started using AutoCAD with a digitizer and 16 mouse buttons. I still don’t know what all the buttons did. I was mentoring a brand new AutoCAD student just last week, and it took all I had not to teach her my bad habits. “Type in this command…no, wait…there’s a ribbon button for that.”

My challenge to you is this. Take just a few minutes today to learn one new feature in AutoCAD. Just one. Then tomorrow, find another one…you get the picture. There are plenty of resources at your fingertips. Assuming you’re reading this blog on some kind of technological device, you are just a few clicks away from increased AutoCAD knowledge. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn everything at once. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”…but who knows, maybe you can build your AutoCAD repertoire one new feature at a time.

Kimberly FuhrmanKimberly Fuhrman, LEED AP BD+C, has more than 20 years’ experience in both the civil and architectural fields using a variety of Autodesk software products. She is a Revit Architecture Certified Professional and the Revit Structure Content Manager. for AUGI World. Kimberly is the BIM Manager for LSC Design, Inc., in York, Pennsylvania. Contact her at @FuhrmanKimberly


  1. rdh288

    Learning new ways to do things is very important. Typing commands isn’t a bad thing, though. I started AutoCAD after the ribbon was released and I still use the command line as much as possible. It’s just faster.

  2. Roy

    I started with autocad back in 2004 and my boss encouraged me to use the keyboard.
    Of course I had to learn the commands first. But as i learnt them I also learned a few more things.

    Toolbars are annoying! with something like architectural desktop back in 2004 for example you had the standard toolbars plus the additional architectural toolbars.
    On a single 17 inch screen these soon became a problem.
    I then learnt how to customize toolbars and that saved me a lot of hassle, but my workspace was still cluttered, and still there were too many little buttons to sort through.

    It wasn’t long before i forced myself to use the keyboard.
    The command prompts gave me more control over the options available, and i was able to customize the pgp file to only use my left hand so i could keep my right hand on the mouse.

    Can you say goodbye toolbars? Hello clean screen and faster work flow.

    I am amazed at the reaction i get when colleagues need me to do something for them in a hurry. They say “Wow, I know autocad, and I tried to follow what you did but I couldn’t keep up. I’d still be looking for the button in the toolbar.”

    And dont get me started on the ribbon! actually i dont have much to say except that i dont use it, most of its function is in the properties palette which is still better to use.

    Anyhow i haven’t found a need for all the improvements that have been made,
    And i find myself learning lisp for more automation.

    Acad.pgp and Acaddoc.lsp are my favourite customisations for now in autocad.

    Hmm… my 2 cents was a bit long winded.

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