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

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)
    image
  3. After pressing [Ok], you will see the command listed inside the Command Alias Editor.
    image

Save Command Aliases

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

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

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.

About The Author

Donnie is author of the book and Autodesk Official Press, AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required, a columnist for AUGIWorld Magazine, Autodesk University speaker, and former member of the AUGI Board of Directors.

46 Comments

  1. 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.

    Chris

    Reply
  2. How do you do this in AutoCad LT 2010

    Reply
    • You won't be able to use the Alias Editor highlighted in this post since AutoCAD LT doesn't include Express Tools. However, that doesn't mean you can't still create custom aliases, just that you'll have to do so with Notepad (or another text editor). Go to the Manage tab > Customization panel > Edit Aliases tool to quickly find and modify the acad.pgp file.

      Reply
  3. How do you do this in AutoCad LT 2010

    Reply
    • You won't be able to use the Alias Editor highlighted in this post since AutoCAD LT doesn't include Express Tools. However, that doesn't mean you can't still create custom aliases, just that you'll have to do so with Notepad (or another text editor). Go to the Manage tab > Customization panel > Edit Aliases tool to quickly find and modify the acad.pgp file.

      Reply
      • HEY DONNIE
        Finally after an hour I got it to work by going though autocad, i was editing the file in my explorer. How come I have a red dot next to my cursor now?

        Reply
  4. I am new to 2010 (former 2005 user) and i cannot seem to be able to create the transparent keyboard commands i used in 2005. i loaded these in via a partial .mnu file. these commands resided in the accelerator area where the function keys were defined. one of the commands i liked best was the transparent zoom window where i could type in W, say while drawing a line and be able to zoom in. When i try to load my old .mnu file in the cui editor it says it cannot load it.

    HELP!!!!

    Reply
    • It's been a while since I've migrated .mnu's to the CUI command. Based on your description, you'll want to have a look at the Keyboard Shortcuts node within the CUI command. Additionally, you can switch to the Transfer tab within the CUI command, to open an old .mnu / .mns file, and migrate it into your CUI file. Hope that gets you pointed in the right direction.

      Reply
  5. I am new to 2010 (former 2005 user) and i cannot seem to be able to create the transparent keyboard commands i used in 2005. i loaded these in via a partial .mnu file. these commands resided in the accelerator area where the function keys were defined. one of the commands i liked best was the transparent zoom window where i could type in W, say while drawing a line and be able to zoom in. When i try to load my old .mnu file in the cui editor it says it cannot load it.

    HELP!!!!

    Reply
    • It's been a while since I've migrated .mnu's to the CUI command. Based on your description, you'll want to have a look at the Keyboard Shortcuts node within the CUI command. Additionally, you can switch to the Transfer tab within the CUI command, to open an old .mnu / .mns file, and migrate it into your CUI file. Hope that gets you pointed in the right direction.

      Reply
  6. Hello and HELP! :) I have just had to reinstall my stand-alone copy of Autocad 2008 (survived the Win7 upgrade over the last two days) and am now up and running BUT none of my typical keyboard aliases are working. I have checked the path for the acad.pgp file and found it where it was discussed above. I can also launch the editor as described in this forum but I don't want to edit or change any of the traditional keys – I just want them back and working! I can't function without the ability to hit "e" for Erase and "z" for zoom…I'm too old!

    Thanks for any help.

    Reply
    • Stephanie – Have you verified an acad.pgp file exists in your local Windows profile? The path to check will look something like this: C:UsersYour Nameappdataroamingautodeskautocad 20##r##.#enusupport.

      If the acad.pgp file does exist in that directory, make sure it's at the top of the list in the OPTIONS command. Are you having any other errors with AutoCAD, or is it just the PGP file? If it's just the PGP I've recommend copying it from another computer, or if that's not an option, create a new windows user and copy the PGP file from there. If you have issues outside the PGP issue, I'd recommend performing a Repair Reinstall (Control Panel > Add Remove Programs).

      Reply
  7. Hello and HELP! :) I have just had to reinstall my stand-alone copy of Autocad 2008 (survived the Win7 upgrade over the last two days) and am now up and running BUT none of my typical keyboard aliases are working. I have checked the path for the acad.pgp file and found it where it was discussed above. I can also launch the editor as described in this forum but I don't want to edit or change any of the traditional keys – I just want them back and working! I can't function without the ability to hit "e" for Erase and "z" for zoom…I'm too old!

    Thanks for any help.

    Reply
    • Stephanie – Have you verified an acad.pgp file exists in your local Windows profile? The path to check will look something like this: C:UsersYour Nameappdataroamingautodeskautocad 20##r##.#enusupport.

      If the acad.pgp file does exist in that directory, make sure it's at the top of the list in the OPTIONS command. Are you having any other errors with AutoCAD, or is it just the PGP file? If it's just the PGP I've recommend copying it from another computer, or if that's not an option, create a new windows user and copy the PGP file from there. If you have issues outside the PGP issue, I'd recommend performing a Repair Reinstall (Control Panel > Add Remove Programs).

      Reply
  8. Hey there everyone i was just introduceing myself here im a first time visitor who hopes to become a daily reader!

    Reply
  9. Hey there everyone i was just introduceing myself here im a first time visitor who hopes to become a daily reader!

    Reply
  10. I have one problem,
    I do not get command alias editor dialog box after clicking Express > Tools > Command Alias Editor
    Any one suggest me what can I do for same.

    Reply
  11. I have one problem,
    I do not get command alias editor dialog box after clicking Express > Tools > Command Alias Editor
    Any one suggest me what can I do for same.

    Reply
  12. HST and Donnie, I’m working in 2007, and I have a similar problem. I’m not able to change any of my aliases… in fact no one in my office is. quite frustrating, really. I read HST’s comment about unloading the lisp… how would one go about doing this. And also, Donnie, how do I know if my .pgp file is in the right spot? I looked in this folder and i am sorry to say that I have no clue what i’m looking at.
    any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • bigD – Not knowing how your CAD Manager has set up your CAD environment, it’s rather difficult to pinpoint what’s going on here. As for the LISP thing, I’d recommend looking in the startup suite (APPLOAD command), and/or look at the LISP node within the CUI command. There’s a number of ways to load LISP, hence the reason so much hinges on how things were setup in the first place.

      If you’re having a hard time locating your acad.pgp file. use the Command Alias Editor mentioned in this post, and go to File > Open. Look at the location that defaults to. On Win XP things should look something like this” C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR USERNAME\Application Data\Autodesk\AUTOCAD VERSION\enu\Support” (note the variable for both the username and product name).

      Reply
  13. HST and Donnie, I’m working in 2007, and I have a similar problem. I’m not able to change any of my aliases… in fact no one in my office is. quite frustrating, really. I read HST’s comment about unloading the lisp… how would one go about doing this. And also, Donnie, how do I know if my .pgp file is in the right spot? I looked in this folder and i am sorry to say that I have no clue what i’m looking at.
    any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • bigD – Not knowing how your CAD Manager has set up your CAD environment, it’s rather difficult to pinpoint what’s going on here. As for the LISP thing, I’d recommend looking in the startup suite (APPLOAD command), and/or look at the LISP node within the CUI command. There’s a number of ways to load LISP, hence the reason so much hinges on how things were setup in the first place.

      If you’re having a hard time locating your acad.pgp file. use the Command Alias Editor mentioned in this post, and go to File > Open. Look at the location that defaults to. On Win XP things should look something like this” C:Documents and SettingsYOUR USERNAMEApplication DataAutodeskAUTOCAD VERSIONenuSupport” (note the variable for both the username and product name).

      Reply
  14. I just upgraded to 2010 and none of my aliases are working. The .pgp file is there, and shows them as being what I want, but they don't actually work. Any ideas on how to fix this?

    Reply
    • @HST – The first thing I would check is to see if the acad.pgp file is located in the correct location. Keep in mind for the last several releases AutoCAD uses the local user directory for the acad.pgp file. In 2010 the path should look like this (C:\\Documents and Settings\\USERNAME\\Application Data\\Autodesk\\PRODUCT NAME\\enu\\Support)

      Reply
      • Hi, thank you for your response. I actually figured out the problem (after going through EVERYTHING). The .pgp file was in the correct place, with all the correct aliases. What was happening was when our new AutoCAD was loaded, all the existing lisp files our office had were also loaded even though I didn't use all of them. One of the lisp files was for shortcut commands (which were different) and it was overwriting my alias commands. So once I unloaded the lisp, everything worked perfectly! Hopefully if anyone else comes across this problem my solution will help!

        Reply
  15. I just upgraded to 2010 and none of my aliases are working. The .pgp file is there, and shows them as being what I want, but they don't actually work. Any ideas on how to fix this?

    Reply
    • @HST – The first thing I would check is to see if the acad.pgp file is located in the correct location. Keep in mind for the last several releases AutoCAD uses the local user directory for the acad.pgp file. In 2010 the path should look like this (C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Autodesk\PRODUCT NAME\enu\Support)

      Reply
      • Hi, thank you for your response. I actually figured out the problem (after going through EVERYTHING). The .pgp file was in the correct place, with all the correct aliases. What was happening was when our new AutoCAD was loaded, all the existing lisp files our office had were also loaded even though I didn't use all of them. One of the lisp files was for shortcut commands (which were different) and it was overwriting my alias commands. So once I unloaded the lisp, everything worked perfectly! Hopefully if anyone else comes across this problem my solution will help!

        Reply
  16. How do you change the .pgp file inside Autocad LT? There is no Express Tools in LT.

    Reply
    • @Carlos – You will have to modify it manually using notepad (or something similar). The location will vary based on which OS you are using. Vista/Win 7 will be something like C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\PRODUCT NAME\enu\support\acad.pgp. In XP it will be something like C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\AutoDesk\PRODUCT NAME\VERSION\ENU\Support\.

      If you can’t find it using those paths, do a search for acad.pgp on your C drive.

      Reply
  17. How do you change the .pgp file inside Autocad LT? There is no Express Tools in LT.

    Reply
    • @Carlos – You will have to modify it manually using notepad (or something similar). The location will vary based on which OS you are using. Vista/Win 7 will be something like C:UsersUSERNAMEAppDataRoamingAutodeskPRODUCT NAMEenusupportacad.pgp. In XP it will be something like C:Documents and SettingsUSERNAMEApplication DataAutoDeskPRODUCT NAMEVERSIONENUSupport.

      If you can’t find it using those paths, do a search for acad.pgp on your C drive.

      Reply
  18. Continuing the off-topic. Actually I found a weird way to solve this problem. I filter out all non-mleaders, block them and then explode. This severs the associations.

    Reply
  19. Continuing the off-topic. Actually I found a weird way to solve this problem. I filter out all non-mleaders, block them and then explode. This severs the associations.

    Reply
  20. It’s worth mentioning that when you make changes using aliasedit, they are added to the bottom of your acad.pgp file. So if you’re upgrading to a new version, or reinstalling or want to share your command aliases with other people, you can simply cut and paste this section out of the acad.pgp file.

    I also try to avoid overwriting existing commands; for example I use cla for classiclayer. This means that someone using my computer doesn’t get unexpected results.
    My all time favourite alias is t2 for text2mtext.

    Reply
  21. It’s worth mentioning that when you make changes using aliasedit, they are added to the bottom of your acad.pgp file. So if you’re upgrading to a new version, or reinstalling or want to share your command aliases with other people, you can simply cut and paste this section out of the acad.pgp file.

    I also try to avoid overwriting existing commands; for example I use cla for classiclayer. This means that someone using my computer doesn’t get unexpected results.
    My all time favourite alias is t2 for text2mtext.

    Reply
  22. To expand on this topic, about a year ago I came up with the idea to make my number keyboard on the right my favorite commands, and let me tell you it was a fantastic idea if I do say so myself. It’s perfect, the enter key is right there. My only suggestion is to do it over time. If you just assign each one a command chances are you won’t remember them all.

    Heres how I have mine setup:
    [0] -Polyline [00]-Line
    [1]-Rectangle [ 11]-Polygon
    [2] -Circle [22]-Arc
    [3]-MatchProperties
    [4]-LayMCur [44]-LayCur
    [5]-LayIso [55]-LayUnIso
    [6]- QLeader
    [7]-DimAngular
    [8]-DimAligned
    [9]-DimLinear
    [+]-Copy [++]-Copy with Basepoint
    [-]-Paste [–]-Paste as Block

    Oh yeah, I also made AE the alias for AliasEdit in case I need to make a quick change. I hope that some of you try this and let me know what you think.

    Reply
  23. To expand on this topic, about a year ago I came up with the idea to make my number keyboard on the right my favorite commands, and let me tell you it was a fantastic idea if I do say so myself. It’s perfect, the enter key is right there. My only suggestion is to do it over time. If you just assign each one a command chances are you won’t remember them all.

    Heres how I have mine setup:
    [0] -Polyline [00]-Line
    [1]-Rectangle [ 11]-Polygon
    [2] -Circle [22]-Arc
    [3]-MatchProperties
    [4]-LayMCur [44]-LayCur
    [5]-LayIso [55]-LayUnIso
    [6]- QLeader
    [7]-DimAngular
    [8]-DimAligned
    [9]-DimLinear
    [+]-Copy [++]-Copy with Basepoint
    [-]-Paste [–]-Paste as Block

    Oh yeah, I also made AE the alias for AliasEdit in case I need to make a quick change. I hope that some of you try this and let me know what you think.

    Reply
  24. Hello! Sorry for off-topic question.

    I started doing a project with DIMASSOC set to 2, I drew lots of multileaders, copying some of them from the existing ones.

    Somewhere along the way I copied one particular multileader which was associated with an object (I didn’t know that). Now when I paste/copy those multileaders, their lines “return” to that object, no matter what the DIMASSOC variable is set to. And I found no way to disassociate multileaders from that object except by deleting it, which is a very inconvenient way, to say the least (DIMDISASSOCIATE doesn’t work on mleaders).

    Is this the AutoCAD bug, or is there a way to disassociate mleaders from objects after all?

    I use Acad2010. Thanks.

    Reply
  25. Hello! Sorry for off-topic question.

    I started doing a project with DIMASSOC set to 2, I drew lots of multileaders, copying some of them from the existing ones.

    Somewhere along the way I copied one particular multileader which was associated with an object (I didn’t know that). Now when I paste/copy those multileaders, their lines “return” to that object, no matter what the DIMASSOC variable is set to. And I found no way to disassociate multileaders from that object except by deleting it, which is a very inconvenient way, to say the least (DIMDISASSOCIATE doesn’t work on mleaders).

    Is this the AutoCAD bug, or is there a way to disassociate mleaders from objects after all?

    I use Acad2010. Thanks.

    Reply
  26. Keyboard keyboard keyboard! That’s why it’s there! I couldn’t agree more. I agree so much that I am trying to teach a class about this at AU 2009! I call it “Two-Handed CAD”. One on the muse and one on the keyboard. Get more done by doing less! I am admittedly biased on this because I started using AutoCAD in DOS. I was trained in DOS. I still work like I am in DOS. I love the ribbon because I hardly use it! Good post.

    Reply
  27. Keyboard keyboard keyboard! That’s why it’s there! I couldn’t agree more. I agree so much that I am trying to teach a class about this at AU 2009! I call it “Two-Handed CAD”. One on the muse and one on the keyboard. Get more done by doing less! I am admittedly biased on this because I started using AutoCAD in DOS. I was trained in DOS. I still work like I am in DOS. I love the ribbon because I hardly use it! Good post.

    Reply

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