How to communicate With AutoCAD

Most tasks in AutoCAD involve commands that are explicitly invoked by selecting an option from a menu.

  • for example, you could pick Draw in the pulldown menu and then pick Line to invoke the Line command.


You should always keep an eye on the command line because this is where AutoCAD communicates with you.

  • for example, when you invoke the Line command AutoCAD will prompt you to “Specify first point”.



In some cases you respond to prompts by selecting an object with your pickbox.

  • in other cases you must specify a point by left-clicking when your crosshairs are in the desired position.
  • you might even type information (such as the length of a LINE or the diameter of a CIRCLE) at the keyboard.

Everything you type at the keyboard in response to command line prompts will appear on the command line as well.

Most menu options are merely a recording of keystrokes stored in a menu macro.

  • when you select a menu option you are simply playing back a recording of these keystrokes.
  • you could do the same thing yourself (without picking the menu option) by typing the same keystrokes at the keyboard.

Commands can often be invoked from more than one menu.

  • for example, you can pick the Line button in the Draw toolbar to invoke the Line command (instead of using the pulldown menu).
  • hold your cursor over a toolbar button to see a tooltip near your 
crosshairs and a help string at the bottom of the screen.
  • you see the same help string when you highlight a pulldown menu option (without picking it).


You will see command access tips throughout this manual when you first learn to use a particular command.

  • these tips show you how to invoke the same command from different menus and list an alias if the command has one.
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1-  LINE or 
L (alias) You could type “LINE” or “L” at the keyboard.
2- Draw + Line You could pick Draw then Line in the pulldowns.
3-  Draw You could pick this button in the Draw toolbar.

There may be more than one option for a command once a command is running and AutoCAD prompts for a response.

  • options are listed on the command line inside [square brackets] and you can select an option by typing keyword letters.
  • you must type all capitalized letters of the desired option to use that option (most options have only one capital letter).

For example, when you invoke the Zoom command manually you will get the following prompts on the command line.

Command: ZOOM↵

Specify corner of window, enter a scale factor (nX or nXP), or [All/Center/Dynamic/Extents/Previous/Scale/Window] <real time>:

  • at the last prompt above you could type the first (capital) letter of each option (i.e. A,C,D,E,P,S or W) to use that option.
  • you must press <enter> after you type one of these letters.

When an option appears inside <angled brackets> you can invoke that option by pressing the <enter> key.

  • for example, at the Zoom prompt shown above you could press <enter> to use the <real time> option of Zoom.

You can also select options listed inside [square brackets] from a shortcut menu (instead of typing keyword letters).

  • right-click in the drawing area to invoke a shortcut.

Command: ZOOM↵

Specify corner of window, enter a scale factor (nX or nXP), or [All/Center/Dynamic/Extents/Previous/Scale/Window] <real time>: (right-click)

There are other ways to invoke context sensitive shortcut menus.

  • Right-click on the command line to access the recent command history shortcut menu.
  • Right-click in the drawing area when no command is running and no objects are selected for the default shortcut menu.
  • Right -click in the drawing area with objects selected when no 
command is running for the edit-mode shortcut menu.
  • Right -click in dialogue boxes or on status bar buttons to access a dialogue-mode shortcut menu.
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The recent commands shortcut is a handy way to invoke a command that you have used recently.

  • Right-click on the command line and select a recent command to repeat from the shortcut.

The default shortcut menu always offers to repeat the last command that you used at the top of this shortcut menu

  • There are also other options to Cut & Paste, Redo & Undo or change the display with Pan or Zoom & other tools.
  • Right-click in the drawing area when no command is running and when no objects are selected for the default-mode shortcut.

The edit-mode shortcut menu is like the default menu but it also includes common edit options appropriate for the selected objects.

  • right-click in the drawing area when objects are selected and no command is running for an edit-mode shortcut menu.
  • for example, select a DIMENSION & right-click in the drawing area to change the precision (number of decimals places).

Dialogue-mode shortcuts offer options that are specific to the dialogue box that you right-click in.

  • for example, in the Layer dialogue box you are presented with options to help select layers quickly.

You create and edit drawings in the Graphics window but AutoCAD may switch to the Text window to display longer reports.

  • the Text window shows the command history and you can scroll back several commands to see previous command line dialogue.
  • press the F2 function key to toggle back and forth between the Graphics & Text windows in AutoCAD.


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