The user's efficiency and speed will be greatly enhanced by the use of keyboard shortcuts in Autocad 2D interface. These are virtually the same whether you're using the Windows or Macintosh platform.
In addition, in common with many other programs, an operation can be performed in three or four different ways. The drop-down menus are the first stop for Autocad 2D commands, however this is probably the most laborious method. The tools arranged in various tabs on the Ribbon at the top of the Windows version interface can also be used. The Ribbon was first introduced to the PC version in 2009, but the later Macintosh version, only released in 2010, the various commands are executed via drop-down menus and panels. In both interfaces there are the context-sensitive options available by right-clicking on the screen - the options vary depending on what stage of the operation you are in. All in all, the quickest way of executing a command by far is through using the keyboard shortcuts.
Many of these are identical to the Microsoft commands, for example Control key plus S to Save, Control plus O to Open, Control plus P to Print, and Control plus Z to Undo a command. This is if you're using the Windows operating system. If you're working on the Macintosh platform, use the Command key instead of the Control key, and the Option key instead of the Alt key.
Autocad 2D is mainly used for drafting plans and as such most of its keyboard shortcuts apply to the areas of drawing and modifying commands. For example, hit the L key then the Enter key to select the Line tool. The Rectangle tool is selected by typing REC into the Command line. Or if Dynamic Input is on, we may enter the command at the cursor field. Then we hit the Enter key as always (or Return on the Mac). The A key plus Enter selects the Arc tool. Note that you must always hit Enter after the key. And you would type PL into the Command line in order to select the Polyline tool.
The C command is a bit different in that its function will depend on the context in which it's used. For example, when choosing a tool the C key stands for the Circle tool, but if you were in the middle of the drawing command C will close a shape.
When we wish to modify existing shapes keyboard shortcuts can also be used. For example, M stands for the Move tool, type CP to Copy an object, O is to Offset a line or series of lines, MI is to Mirror, SC is for scaling. Other functions are: AR for Array, X to Explode a block, F to Fillet a corner, and TR to Trim. And as above you must always remember to hit the Enter key after each keyboard shortcut.
Functions on the bottom Status bar can also be activated by using the keyboard shortcuts: F2 to show the Text Screen, F3 for Object Snap, F5 for Isometric Views, F7 to show a Grid, F8 to draw lines orthogonally, and F9 to Snap to the Grid. Many other shortcuts exist: LA to bring up the Layer Properties Manager, DI to measure a distance, DC to launch Autocad's Design Centre (a very useful feature which is only available at present on the Windows version, however), and type XR to import an External Reference. For a complet list of keyboard shortcuts in Autocad, it's recommended that you visit the AutoDesk website.
Tom Gillan has been training Autocad 2D to corporate clients in Sydney for over seven years. Visit our website for more information at Design Workshop Sydney.