10 Best AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts to Save You Time

By Pook Villegas | CAD, News

Top 10 AutoCAD Keyboard Shortcuts for Architects & Designers

Every architect who incorporates technology in his work knows firsthand how vital it is to have an efficient workflow. One of the best ways to save time and streamline your design processes in AutoCAD is by using keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts allow you to quickly access commands, tools, and settings without having to navigate through multiple menus, increasing your overall productivity. In this blog post, I will share my top 10 AutoCAD keyboard shortcuts that can save you time and help you become a more efficient architect or designer.

CTRL + S: Save

One of the most important keyboard shortcuts to remember is CTRL + S. This shortcut quickly saves your current drawing, ensuring you don’t lose any of your hard work due to an unexpected computer crash or power outage. Make it a habit to use this shortcut frequently throughout your design process.

F8: Ortho Mode

Ortho mode is crucial for creating straight lines and maintaining accuracy in your drawings. Pressing F8 toggles Ortho mode on and off, allowing you to easily switch between freeform drawing and precise horizontal or vertical lines.

F3: Object Snap

Object Snap, or OSNAP, is an invaluable feature that allows you to snap to specific points on objects, such as endpoints, midpoints, or centers. Press F3 to toggle OSNAP on and off quickly. When used in combination with Ortho mode (F8), you can efficiently draw accurate lines and shapes that connect to existing geometry.

CTRL + Z: Undo

We all make mistakes, and that’s where the Undo command comes in handy. Pressing CTRL + Z allows you to undo your last action, helping you quickly fix errors or revert to a previous state in your drawing.

CTRL + 1: Properties Palette

The Properties Palette is an essential tool for editing and inspecting objects in your drawing. Press CTRL + 1 to open or close the Properties Palette, giving you quick access to modify object properties such as layer, color, or line type.

CTRL + SHIFT + C: Copy with Base Point

When you need to copy an object or group of objects and maintain their position relative to a specific point, use CTRL + SHIFT + C. This shortcut allows you to select a base point and then copy the selected objects, maintaining their relative position to the chosen point.

P: Pan

Navigating your drawing is crucial for efficient work, and the Pan tool is a great way to do that. Press “P” followed by “Enter” to activate the Pan tool, then click and drag your mouse to move the view of your drawing. This shortcut is particularly helpful when working on large, complex drawings.

Z + Enter + A: Zoom All

To quickly zoom out and view your entire drawing, type “Z” followed by “Enter” and then “A” followed by “Enter” again. This shortcut will zoom out to display all objects in your drawing, giving you a complete view of your work.

X: Explode

The Explode command is useful for breaking down complex objects or blocks into their individual components. Simply type “X” followed by “Enter,” then select the object you want to explode. This shortcut is especially helpful when working with imported objects or blocks that need to be modified individually.

M: Move

Moving objects is a common task in AutoCAD, and using the “M” shortcut speeds up the process. Type “M” followed by “Enter,” then select the objects you want to move, and finally pick the base and destination points. This quick command enables you to efficiently reposition objects within your drawing.

What if You Need a Custom Shortcut?

In addition to the built-in shortcuts, AutoCAD also allows you to create custom keyboard shortcuts to further optimize your workflow. Custom shortcuts can be assigned to frequently used commands or tools that may not have a default shortcut. These can be particularly helpful if you find yourself constantly repeating a process not covered by the default shortcuts or if you need a combination of those. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create custom shortcuts in AutoCAD:

  1. Type “CUI” in the command line and press Enter. This will open the Customize User Interface (CUI) dialog box.
  2. In the left pane of the CUI dialog box, you’ll find the ‘Customizations in All Files’ section. Expand the ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’ node by clicking on the plus (+) sign.
  3. Click on the ‘Shortcut Keys’ node to view a list of existing shortcuts in the right pane. You can scroll through the list to see all the default shortcuts and any custom shortcuts you may have previously created.
  4. To create a new custom shortcut, click the ‘Command List’ tab located at the top of the left pane. Scroll through the list of commands or use the search box to find the command you want to assign a shortcut to.
  5. Drag the desired command from the ‘Command List’ pane and drop it onto the ‘Shortcut Keys’ node in the right pane. The new command will now appear in the list of shortcuts.
  6. Select the newly added command in the ‘Shortcut Keys’ list. In the ‘Properties’ section at the bottom of the right pane, click inside the ‘Key(s)’ box.
  7. Press the desired key combination for your new custom shortcut. Note that the combination must include the CTRL or SHIFT key, followed by other characters. AutoCAD will display the key combination you’ve pressed in the ‘Key(s)’ box. If the key combination is already assigned to another command, a warning symbol will appear, and you may want to choose a different combination to avoid conflicts.
  8. Once you have selected an available key combination, click the ‘Apply’ button at the bottom right corner of the CUI dialog box to save your changes.
  9. Click ‘OK’ to close the CUI dialog box. Your new custom shortcut is now active and ready for use in AutoCAD.

By creating custom shortcuts for your most frequently used commands, you can further improve your efficiency and productivity in AutoCAD. Remember to practice using both the built-in and custom keyboard shortcuts regularly, as they will soon become second nature and significantly speed up your design process. You’ll find yourself resorting to the ribbon less and less, saving precious time. If you still find yourself reaching for the mouse, the Quick Access Toolbar is there for you, keeping your most used commands at the distance of a click.

INDUSTRIES: Architecture

Published on December 12, 2023 in .

About the Author

Pook Villegas is an AEC Application Specialist at Microsol Resources. She is responsible for providing the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) clients with BIM health checks, developing and implementing BIM standards, assisting with BIM Execution Plans (BEP), training, technical support, and other BIM-related services. She brings extensive architectural design and technological skills, having worked with BIM technology in a variety of project types, including K-12 facilities, residential, and interior projects.