Becoming a Keyboard Warrior – The Command Alias Editor

image As much as I love the enhancements to the ribbon inside AutoCAD 2010, I have a slight confession to make. I hardly click buttons, navigate menus, or even browse the ribbon to launch many of my most used commands. Instead I revert to a simpler time before such user interface enhancements – the keyboard. Call it archaic, but with minimal effort, you too can become an AutoCAD keyboard warrior! How you ask? To find the answer you need to look no further than the beloved Express Tools.

Looking to the old Express menu, the lesser known Command Alias Editor is tucked away under Express > Tools > Command Alias Editor. Users of AutoCAD 2010 do not have to look far at all as the Command Alias Editor is the biggest button on the Tools ribbon panel on the Express Tools ribbon tab. As you may have guessed, the Command Alias Editor is the secret to configuring your keyboard like an AutoCAD pro!

AutoCAD veterans are probably familiar with modifying the acad.pgp file.  For the uninitiated, the acad.pgp is really just a text file containing all of the command aliases used within AutoCAD.  For instance, there’s no L command inside AutoCAD, but you’ve probably used it to draw a line at one point or another. The entering L at the command line lets you draw a line is because the alias L is mapped to the LINE command. While AutoCAD ships with L mapped to the LINE command, with the help of the acad.pgp file you’re free to change it to anything you want.

Making things even easier (by putting a graphical interface on the acad.pgp file) is the Command Alias Editor Express Tool. With just a few clicks you can add, remove, or edit any of your command aliases.

To Edit an existing alias

Let’s say you want to remap the LA alias (LAYER command by default) to CLASSICLAYER.

  1. Launch the Command Alias Editor from the Tools panel within the Express Tools ribbon tab.
  2. Find the LA alias from the Command Alias Editor, and click the [Edit] button
  3. From the Edit Command Alias dialog, enter CLASSICLAYER into the AutoCAD Command textbox, and press [Ok]
  4. The following warning will display. Press [Yes] if you’re ok with the edit you just made.
  5. The following dialog will display to confirm the change.

Add a new Alias

Let’s say you want to create an alias LLI to launch the LAYISO command.

  1. Click the [Add] button to create a new alias.
  2. From the New Command Alias dialog, enter LLI as your alias, and LAYISO as your AutoCAD command (see illustration)
  3. After pressing [Ok], you will see the command listed inside the Command Alias Editor.

Save Command Aliases

Once you have made the desired changes within the Command Alias Editor…

  1. Click the [Ok] button
  2. You will be asked to confirm overwriting your current acad.pgp file.
  3. A confirmation, letting you know the aliases you just modified have been saved, and made available to your current AutoCAD session.

And that’s it! With a little imagination you can quickly conjure up all sorts of two and three character shortcuts to your most common commands.

  • Fakey McFake

    I just googled “autocad alias editor no confirm” to see if I could remove a few of those tedious confirmation dialog boxes when I found this. Glad I did and glad there are other still AutoCAD folks who prefer the keyboard! For those of you who don’t, try it, you’ll like it! This ain’t MircoStation!

    Although more and more the keyboard is being marginalized. Used to be, you could navigate easily in the FILE OPEN dialog box without touching the mouse — like so…. CTRL+O (or ALT+F, O) then you could simply hold down SHIFT and hit TAB once (I can do that with my eyes closed just like CTRL+S, CTRL+C, CTRL+V, etc….) and be in the navigation portion of the FILE OPEN dialog box. Once there, navigation was quick and easy, sans mouse.

    Now SHIFT+TAB in the OPEN dialog box cycles through a bunch of options that keyboard people don’t need — the first option being the select initial view checkbox — even though the “e” in select is already underlined so ALT-E would enact it easier then SHIFT-TAB, SPACEBAR — if that makes sense.

    It’s small potatoes but it just shows keyboard people were not considered when the OPEN dialog box was “upgraded.”

    ….end soapbox.

    My favorite command line commands are ones I can stack near my left hand like V for mirror (V is symmetrical!), X for stretch, C for copy (not circle!), S for scale, RT for rotate not RO….. etc.

    Last unsolicited tip: have your computer use CTRL+ATL shortcuts to open common programs like CTRL+ALT+C for calculator, CTRL+ATL+X for Excel, CTRL+ALT+W for Word — lightning fast to open — then just roll your left hand across ALT+SPACEBAR+C to close it just as quick. Do that by right click on the program’s shortcut then select properties.

    Good article, Donnie.


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