AutoCAD Tutorials: Basic Commands and Tools

AutoCAD Tutorials: Essential Commands and Tools

In this post today, we will continue the course that we started the last time; For those who didn't read the First Part, it is highly recommended to do so because of the relevance of the information included, which is essential for fully understanding the topics discussed.

➤ Related: Anyway, here is the link to the part 1: AutoCAD Tutorials: Learning Basics for Beginners.

I'd like to notice hereby, that the purpose of writing those learning courses is just informative, which means, it is always advised to practice and practice all the way long because it is the only way to get better when it comes to Mastering AutoCAD and other related graphic software.

Having that said, the following topics will define the functionality of the major and most utilized AutoCAD tools or commands. First of all, let's get started with the UI (User Interface) overview:

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The AutoCAD Logo

The AutoCAD UI Explained — AutoCAD basic commands

At a glance, the classic AutoCAD User Interface (UI) is divided into 7 main parts as follows: (See Fig.1 below)

  1. The pull-down menu bar
  2. The Toolbars (by default: the Standard Toolbar and the Properties Toolbar)
  3. The Model Space Area or the Working Area v/s The Layout/Paper Space
  4. The Command Prompt and the Prompt Area
  5. The Status Line (it gives you useful information about the current drawing)
  6. Properties Dialog Window
  7. Ad Center Window (AutoCAD Design Center)

So, those are the main tools and functions that form the layout of the AutoCAD User Interface. It can slightly differ from other presets or workspace settings; This is because AutoCAD comes with a collection of "Preset Workspaces" such as, and not limited to, the Drafting & Annotation, the 3D basics, and the 3D modeling.

As its name indicate, each configuration is provided with a group of selected tools and AutoCAD basic commands designed to help the user for a better experience in using his favorite commands that he needs to complete his task. We will be describing each part in a more detailed explanation of its features and characteristics in the next section.


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Fig.1- The Various Parts that compose the UI of the Classic AutoCAD- Photo from the version 2013

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Fig.2- The ACAD Design Center is used for various tasks such as inserting Blocks or importing Layers from other files, etc...

A Note about Picking Points | Applicable on all Commands

To practice with the Cursor. Move the Cursor (via the mouse) around the Working Area. In the Status-Line, at the bottom of your screen, note how the Coordinates Readout changes as you drive to display your Cursor's position. It is located at the lower left of the Status-Line, as we said, and shows the coordinates in the usual arithmetic (X, Y) axis format. (See Fig.1 above)


Objects Selection

Now, try picking a point by Pressing the mouse pick button, then moving the cursor: a rectangle follows. Try to include some existing objects inside; This is the Selection Window. 

  • Important note: Actually, it differs in which direction are you forming the rectangle: if it is from the left to the right, it is a normal window selection, in which only fully contained objects will be selected. (The rectangle mentioned here is the color blue). But in the second case, which is from the right to the left, we are talking about a crossing-window selection, which means every touched object by the rectangle will be selected. (The rectangle here is the color green by default)


The UCS Icon

In the lower-left corner of the working space, you will notice the "User Coordinates System" (UCS for shortening), which informs you about the drawing orientation; X and Y indicate both the referential axis of each point in the working space, used for mathematical graphics.


How do you communicate with AutoCAD?

The Command-prompt Area is the area that should have your prior attention as a beginner user of the software. In fact, this is where and how you can "COMMUNICATE" with AutoCAD. Practically, when the sentence "Type a command" is displayed in the box, it means that AutoCAD is waiting for your command input and other instructions to act accordingly.

In addition, while running a command, it is very useful to always keep an eye on this active area because it displays the options that come usually with a specific command such as various parameters to select from to define the object to draw or modify.

Besides giving you messages and requirements, the Prompting Area records your activity and provides you with information about objects within your drawing. Try using the LI (As an abbreviation of the LIST command) which lists all the available data of any selected element in the drawing starting with the relevant coordinates of every point composing it, passing by the layer name that it belongs to, etc...

Press the F2 button for a full page displaying the history of your latest session.

The Button's Tooltips and the Status-Line

Practice this small test: Place the arrow cursor over any button in a toolbar for 2-4 seconds: Note that the name of the button will appear within a light yellow Tooltip, and a brief description of its function will also display at the Status-Line.


Opening an Existing Drawing

  • File Management: The AutoCAD files carry the (.dwg) extension and the (.bak) as a backup file. The .bak file is automatically created when the first file saving occurs and by default in the same containing folder. In case of file damage or harm the reuse of the backup file is helpful and very beneficial sometimes: Just change the (.bak) extension and replace it by typing dwg instead and you are done!
  • To open a file from the Select File DIalog Box, place the arrow-cursor over the File menu and click it with the mouse right-click button, then click on Open ... The Select File dialog box appears.

Note: the three dots [...] that appear with a command name in a pull-down menu indicate that a Dialog Box will come after.


Getting Closer Views | Zoom Tool

Click on the VIEW menu → Zoom → Window. Next, always check what the Command  Prompt Area is displaying and try to follow the instructions, as you will next specify the area to zoom in by defining a rectangle with 2 points on its corners...

Also, let's try the other zooming tools:

  • zoom dynamic
  • zoom all (regarding the drawing limits area)
  • zoom extents (regarding the drawn objects)
  • zoom previous (returns to the previous view)
  • zoom in
  • zoom out

Editing your Drawing

From the Modify menu choose Erase command and practice performing the task. Note that the cursor has turned from its original form to a small square that allows you to select the desired objects; This new shape is called the pick-box.

As you already should do, check also the Command Prompt Area which should display the Select Objects: request. Place now the pick box over an object in the drawing and selected it by clicking the left button on your mouse: the object is highlighted instantly.

Now press Enter or right-click the mouse; the object was erased. The sequence of steps is almost common to many of the AutoCAD basic commands:

  1. First, you have to launch the desired command or tool.
  2. Then you select the objects using the pointing device or mouse.
  3. Press Enter again to let AutoCAD know that you did finish your selection.
  4. Then, as the command request, some additional parameters will be required, as you have to provide those respectively.
  5. To complete the command, press Enter again.

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Ending a Session

To close your session in AutoCAD just go to the FILE menu and click on Exit. Note that AutoCAD will prompt you if you want to save the changes you made recently to your work via a Dialog Box. To save the modifications done, you should click Yes; if not simply choose No.

At the end of this learning review and as I mentioned earlier, this is not a tutorial course: it is just a general introduction to AutoCAD Basic Commands which is essential for those who want to get started in mastering the program, typically for AutoCAD tutorial architecture. The goal is to increase your knowledge of the AutoCAD Basics and with the how-it-works which leads to better assimilation of the tough and complicated material that the program provides in general.


If you need to learn more...

In some cases, you might need more in-depth references concerning some specific commands or else. If so, don't worry:

Nadim Maani

Blogging about Architecture and Designs AutoCAD, Photoshop, 3DS Max, and other software Tips and Tutorials, Lebanese Traditional Style, Real Estate, Home Improvement, Travel, and Places to Visit.

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