Since being posted back in April my post titled Linking Excel and AutoCAD with Data Links has been one of the most visited pages here on The CAD Geek Blog. In that post I go through what I will call the manual way of linking an Excel table to AutoCAD. Thus unless you are a part of the Slowskey family, you’ll likely prefer this quicker more efficient way of making the link.
- Start off in Excel by simply selecting the cells you want to link to AutoCAD. Right-click and select “Copy“. This will place the Excel table on your clipboard so we can paste it into AutoCAD.
- Open the AutoCAD drawing you wish to insert your Excel table into, and go to the “Edit” menu, selecting “Paste Special”.
- From the resulting dialog box, Select the “Paste Link” radio button, and then select “AutoCAD Entities” under the “As” heading.
Select an insertion point for your table, and just like that you have a table which is linked to AutoCAD. If you have “DYN” turned on (available from status bar) you will see some helpful information when you hover over the table.
First notice the two icons in the Northeast quadrant of your cursor. The padlock icon to the left indicates that the table is locked. What that means is changes to the Excel document will be updated in AutoCAD as well, however you cannot make a change in AutoCAD and it update Excel. The second icon is supposed to be two chain links. That is letting you know the table contents are being red from an external Excel table.
Finally if you have dynamic input (DYN) turned on the southeast quadrant of your cursor will show some information about the data link associated with the table. AutoCAD automatically generates a Data Link when you use the Paste Special method, hence the Excel Data Link 1 name. Other information like the path to the linked Excel table and what cells are being displayed is among the data previewed.
While AutoCAD does have the ability to write back to Excel, I have found the methodology in doing such to be very cumbersome. Instead, I have found it easier to modify the Excel table by opening the Excel document itself. This is relatively easy to do within AutoCAD by:
- Select a cell within your AutoCAD Table
- Under “Data Links” select “Open Data File“. That will load Excel, and take you to the linked Excel document.
In my humble opinion that method is a lot easier than unlocking the cell(s) you want to modify, changing the data, and then writing back to the data source. Finally if you’re in a drawing, and the Excel document gets modified. AutoCAD will not update the table in real-time. You could close and re-open the drawing, but a little easier method is to select the table > right-click > “Update Table Data Links”.