AutoCAD Super-Secret Commands
In AutoCAD, there are Super-Secret commands that you might not know of. These Super-Secret commands are called system variables and have values that control command settings, interface behavior, and options. Some system variables are stored with the original DWG file while others are stored in the windows registry.
FILEDIA: This is always one that needs to be brought up and I’m sure some of you have had to reset this registry-stored variable before. When this variable is set to 0, which is “off” to AutoCAD, the dialog box is suppressed when you use the Open and Save As commands. A lot of scripts or LISP routines will set this variable to the off position while it runs, however, it will reset itself back to 1 to turn it on again at the end of the process. If the script or lisp happens to be stopped, or AutoCAD crashes, the variable does not get reset to the proper value; thereby, displaying no dialogue box for SaveAs or Open.
GRIDSTYLE: If you use the Grid command, you will find the new look makes the polar tracking hard to see. If you change value for GRIDSTYLE to 1, it will take the grid back to the pre-2011 dotted appearance. If you set it to 2, it will display the dotted grid for the Block Editor. If you set it to 4, it will display the dotted grid for Sheet and Layout. The on or off setting is saved in the drawing, but gridstyle variable is saved in your computer’s registry.
GRIPMULTIFUNCTIONAL: AutoCAD 2012 has a great new feature called multifunctional grips and works on a little bit of everything in AutoCAD. If you hover over a grip you will see these new pop-up menus. It is important to remember all of these are also accessible by picking the grip and right-clicking also. For some people, these new pop-up menus have become annoying and cause them to wonder if there is a way to turn them off. GRIPMULTIFUNCTIONAL has multiple variables that you can use to fine tune how you want them to work for you. Using 0 will turn off multi-functional grips altogether. Using 1 will allow you to access the grip-goodies by holding down the control key as you click. Using 2 gives you hover-only grip menus. Finally, selecting 3, which is the default setting, gives grip menus with or without using the CTRL key.
PEDITACCEPT: Setting this variable to 1 will kill the prompt about converting lines, arcs, and splines into polylines. By setting this to 1, the objects will automatically convert to a polyline and save you a step.
PLINEGEN: Setting this to 0 will set how linetype patterns generate around the vertices of a 2D Polyline.
SELECTIONANNODISPLAY: Annotative objects have been an uphill battle for some but can be a great tool to help in annotating a drawing in AutoCAD compared to the “old days” (pre-AutoCAD 2008). One thing that I see that annoys people who use this feature is how AutoCAD will create a shadow of the text at its different sizes and positions. To get around this issue, set your SELECTIONANNODISPLAY to 0 allowing only the current scale to be displayed; thereby, discontinuing the shadow text.
WHIPTHREAD: AutoCAD can utilize multiple processors by setting the WHIPTHREAD variable. By default this is set to 1, which only REGEN is sent to the secondary processor. Setting this to 3 will maximize AutoCAD’s performance when panning and zooming along with REGEN and REDRAW to the secondary processor. Don’t expect your computer to magically turn into a rocket ship, but every little bit helps.
ZOOMFACTOR: What would everyone do if all of a sudden their wheel on their mouse quit working in AutoCAD? The ZOOMFACTOR system variable determines the amount of zoom level that the wheel changes on the drawing window. Setting it to 3 will make your zoom incredibly slow, whereas setting ZOOMFACTOR to 100 will make it incredibly fast.
ZOOMWHEEL: This sets how the wheel interacts with you; for example, rolling forward is zooming in and rolling backward is zooming out. If you use other software this might be different. If you want to swap how this feature works then changing the default value from 0 to 1 will reverse the behavior.
VPROTATEASSOC: Do you ever rotate a viewport and notice that the objects in it never rotated? Are you still doing the “Dview” command and “Twist” to fix this issue? Make sure that the system variable called “VPROTATEASSOC” is set to “1”.