75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer

If you would look to turbocharge your AutoCAD user experience, then these 75+ shortcuts and commands will really make your day.
Christopher McFadden
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AutoCAD is one of the most popular engineering applications worldwide, and for good reason. In the 1980s, AutoCAD was one of the first computer-aided design (CAD) programs designed for personal computers, unlike industrial computers.

Autodesk, the company that made AutoCAD, made it so that more people could use CAD as desktop computers got faster and better. It has come a long way since the 1980s and is still one of the best products today.

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What's more, a new edition is published yearly, and new features are continually added. It is an engineering gift that keeps on giving.

But it gets better. AutoCAD also comes with several valuable shortcuts and commands that make it easier and faster. Let's take a look at some of the most useful.

A quick introduction to commands and shortcuts in AutoCAD

Before getting stuck, it is helpful to explain the difference between two main functions in AutoCAD; commands and shortcuts.

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD is an incredibly powerful design tool.

Word groups known as 'commands' are used to carry out specific tasks. Unlike a shortcut, the command must be entered in its entirety to be used.

The command bar at the bottom of the screen is where commands should be entered. As you type, AutoCAD will suggest similar instructions that start with the same characters, which is helpful.

They are almost always given their names based on the action they will perform. As a result, commands can be simpler to use than shortcuts because you don't need to memorize particular key combinations.

Learning commands (and shortcuts) is a great way to speed up how you use AutoCAD without constantly needing to scroll through those listed on AutoCAD's interface.

Which AutoCAD version should you choose?

AutoCAD comes in a variety of flavors and versions. But, you might be wondering, as someone unfamiliar with the software, which one should you choose?

The short answer is that none of the current versions of AutoCAD, according to experienced users, are, technically speaking, the best. The consensus tends to be that whichever you choose depends entirely on your requirements and tastes.

AutoCAD LT, for example, is considered by many to be the best professional CAD software for creating everything from simple 2D drawings to intricate 3D models.

However, if you're just starting and don't want all the features of the complete edition, Autodesk's free DWG viewer may be a better fit. It allows you to browse, print, and annotate DWG files without purchasing or installing AutoCAD.

Some experienced users believe that earlier versions, such as AutoCAD 2000, are more user-friendly, while others prefer the more advanced capabilities of recent releases, such as AutoCAD 2016.

However, recent versions (such as AutoCAD 2017) include numerous features and advancements that can make your design work more efficient. A more recent version of AutoCAD may be your best option if you seek a more modern and potent CAD program.

What are the most common commands in AutoCAD?

AutoCAD has more than 150 shortcuts and commands, and simply looking at them all at once might be intimidating.

Therefore, we thought it might be helpful to distill out the most useful ones. We'll deal with shortcuts in a little while, but many people frequently wonder which, if any, are the most useful commands.

Answering that does depend on how you use AutoCAD, but for most general users, the following commands are invaluable to learn by rote.

The following are in alphabetical order.

  • ARCTEXT: This command lets you create an arc-aligned text object that follows the curve of a selected arc.
  • AUDIT: This command will check for simple errors in the AutoCAD file and attempt to fix them. To use this command, type AUDIT on the command line, press enter, select Yes from the command line options, or type "Yes" and enter.
  • CAL: This command is used to evaluate mathematical and geometric expressions in AutoCAD. It is an inline geometry calculator that estimates point (vector), real, and integer expressions like CEN, END, and INS to access existing geometry. You can carry out the fundamental operations directly from the command line by typing this command.
  • CLOSEALL: This command closes all open windows and tabs in your AutoCAD workspace. It differs from other closing commands because it won't take you back to your desktop.
  • COPY: This command copies/clones objects at a specified distance in a specified direction. It is handy in all your designs.
  • DIST: This command lets you measure the distance and angle between two points.
  • LIST: You can display and then copy the properties of selected objects to a text file with this simple command.
  • OOPS: You can also use OOPS after BLOCK or WBLOCK because these commands have options that can erase the selected objects after creating a block. You cannot use OOPS to restore objects on a layer removed with the PURGE command.
  • PREVIEW: This one lets you preview the results of Trim, Extend, Lengthen, Break, and MatchProp operations before selecting the objects. The command also lets you preview Fillet, Chamfer, and Offset operations.
  • RECOVERALL: Repairs a damaged drawing file along with all attached xrefs. The RECOVERALL command recovers or audits DWG, DWT, and DWS files.
  • SAVEALL: SAVEALL will attempt to save all open drawings, leaving the drawings open for continued editing. If a drawing has not been named yet, SAVEALL will prompt for a file name.
  • SPELL: AutoCAD, like other software packages, has a spell-checking function. While not particularly "sexy," it is a potent tool nonetheless. To launch the spell check, simply use the command “Spell.” This will open the Check Spell Window. Checks the text you've picked for spelling mistakes and flag them (as you'd expect).
  • TIME: Displays the date and time statistics of a drawing.

What are the most helpful 3D commands in AutoCAD?

AutoCAD, as we've previously discussed, is a robust engineering and architectural design tool. Because most objects engineers design will tend to be 3D when made, it should be no surprise that AutoCAD is more than capable of dealing with those models.

So, for those who want the most out of their AutoCAD experience, here are some invaluable 3D commands for the program.

The following are in alphabetical order.

  • EXTRUDE: This creates a 3D solid from an object that encloses an area or a 3D surface from an object with open ends. Objects can be extruded orthogonally from the plane of the source object, in a specified direction, or along a selected path. You can also specify a taper angle with this command.
  • INTERSECT: This creates a 3D solid, surface, or 2D region from overlapping solids, surfaces, or regions. With INTERSECT, you can create a 3D solid from the common volume of two or more existing 3D solids, surfaces, or regions.
  • MASSPROP: Calculates the mass properties of selected 2D regions or 3D solids.
  • REVOLVE: Creates a 3D solid or surface by sweeping an object around an axis. Open profiles create surfaces, and closed profiles can create either a solid or a surface. The MOde option controls a solid of the surface is created.
  • RENDER: Creates a photorealistic or realistically shaded image of a 3D solid or surface model. The RENDER command begins the rendering process and displays the rendered image in the Render window or the current viewport.
  • SECTION: Uses the intersection of a plane with 3D solids, surfaces, or meshes to create a 2D region object. The SECTION command creates a region object representing a 2D cross-section of 3D objects, including 3D solids, surfaces, and meshes.
  • SLICE: Creates new 3D solids and surfaces by slicing, or dividing, existing objects. The cutting plane is defined with 2 or 3 points by specifying a major plane of the user coordinate system (UCS), or by selecting a planar or a surface object (but not a mesh). One or both sides of the sliced objects can be retained.
  • SOLIDEDIT: This command lets you edit the faces and edges of 3D solid objects. You can also extrude, move, rotate, offset, taper, copy, delete, and assign colors and materials to faces. It also lets you copy and assign colors to edges. You can imprint, separate, shell, clean, and check the validity of the entire 3D solid object (body). It cannot be used on mesh objects, however.
  • SURFPATCH: This lets you create a new surface by fitting a cap over a surface edge that forms a closed loop. You can also add a curve over the closed loop to constrain and guide the patch surface.
  • SURFTRIM: This command lets you trim portions of a surface where it meets another surface or type of geometry. Trims portions of a surface where it meets or bisects a curve, region, or another surface.

Where are the most useful modification commands in AutoCAD?

Modifying in AutoCAD refers to performing edits like erasing, changing, and trimming objects in a drawing. This is a common task, so we thought it might be helpful to summarize the most common functions.

The following are in alphabetical order.

  • ALIGN: This command lets you align the surfaces of two selected objects without manually choosing and moving the object to a point. It can be used for 2D or 3D objects.
  • BREAK: This command lets you break a selected object between two points. In other words, you can create a gap between two specified points on an object, effectively splitting it into two objects. If the points are off of an object, they are automatically projected onto it. For example, BREAK is often used to create space for a block or text.
  • CHAMFER: Bevels or chamfers the edges of two 2D objects or the adjacent faces of a 3D solid. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • ERASE: Again, another obvious one, but this command removes objects from a drawing. This method, however, does not move objects to your computer's "Clipboard", where they can be pasted to another location.
  • EXTEND: This command lets you extend objects to meet the edges of other objects.
  • MIRROR: Great for symmetrical objects and drawings, MIRROR creates a mirrored copy of a selection.
  • FILLET: Related to, but different from CHAMFER, FILLET lets you produce rounded corners on an object.
  • GROUP: This command is excellent for pre-combining objects on your drawing that need to be moved as one throughout the project.
  • LAYER: One of AutoCAD's unique selling points, LAYER lets you organize objects in distinct, well, layers on your drawing. AUTOCAD's layers are one of its many distinguishing characteristics. This could be by floor, walls, whether objects are furniture or services, etc. Effective layer management is essential; this command provides quick access to the Layer Properties Manager.
  • OVERKILL: This command eliminates any overlapping objects in your drawing and notifies you of the erased lines. It can also combine any objects that are partially overlapping or contiguous.
  • PURGE: Removes unused items from the drawing, such as block definitions and layers. Unused named objects can be removed in this way too. This could include block definitions, dimension styles, groups, layers, line types, and text styles. Zero-length geometry, empty text objects, and orphaned DGN line-style data can also be removed.
  • SCALE: This command enlarges or reduces selected objects, keeping the proportions of the object the same after scaling.
  • SCALETEXT: Similar to SCALE, this command lets you enlarge or reduce the size of selected text objects without changing their locations.
  • TEXTFIT: This command automatically scales your text to fit within a space.
  • TRIM: This command lets you trim selected objects to meet the edges of other objects.

What are all the shortcut keys in AutoCAD?

AutoCAD comes with many shortcuts that can be learned by heart or referenced when needed. There are hundreds of them, and everyone's needs vary, so it is likely not helpful to list them all.

However, the following are some of the most commonly used and valuable. To help guide you, we've broken them down into various significant use areas.

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
Get the most out of AutoCAD with these commands and shortcuts.

These handy shortcuts are invaluable for toggling AutoCAD's general features

Like most software packages, AutoCAD comes with handy general feature shortcuts. Learning these will significantly increase your time management when completing most projects in AutoCAD.

1. Ctrl+G

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Toggle Grid

2. Ctrl+E

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Cycle isometric planes

3. Ctrl+F

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Toggle running object snaps

4. Ctrl+H

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Toggle Pick Style

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD has many useful shortcuts.

5. Ctrl+Shift+H

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Toggle Hide pallets

6. Ctrl+I

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Toggle Coords

7. Ctrl+Shift +I

Shortcut type: Toggle General Features

What does it do?: Toggle Infer Constraints

2. These shortcuts are for managing your screen in AutoCAD

1. Ctrl+0 (zero)

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Clean Screen

2. Ctrl+1

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Property Palette

3. Ctrl+2

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Design Centre Palette

4. Ctrl+3

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Tool Palette

5. Ctrl+4

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Sheet Set Palette

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD shortcuts are a great way to increase your user efficiency.

6. Ctrl+6

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: DBConnect Manager

7. Ctrl+7

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Mark-up Set Manager Palette

8. Ctrl+8

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Quick Calc

9. Ctrl+9

Shortcut type: Manage Screen

What does it do?: Command Line

Manage your drawings with these great shortcuts

1. Ctrl+N

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: New drawing

2. Ctrl+S

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Save your drawing

3. Ctrl+O

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Open a drawing

4. Ctrl+P

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Plot dialogue box

5. Ctrl+Tab

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Switch to next

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD is a very powerful design tool.

6. Ctrl+Shift+Tab

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Switch to the previous drawing

7. Ctrl+Page Up

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Switch to the previous tab in the current drawing

8. Ctrl+Page Down

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Switch to the next tab in the current drawing

9. Ctrl+Q

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Exit

10. Ctrl+Shift+S

Shortcut type: Manage Drawings

What does it do?: Save drawing as

You toggle AutoCAD drawing modes with these shortcuts

1. F1

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Display Help

2. F2

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle text screen

3. F3

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle object snap mode

4. F4

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle 3DOsnap

5. F5

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle Isoplane

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD shortcuts really do save you a ton of time.

6. F6

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle Dynamic UCS

7. F7

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle grid mode

8. F8

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle ortho mode

9. F9

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle snap mode

10. F10

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle polar mode

11. F11

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle object snap tracking

12. F12

Shortcut type: Toggle Drawing Modes

What does it do?: Toggle dynamic input mode

These shortcuts will help you manage your AutoCAD workflow

1. Ctrl+A

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Select all objects

2. Ctrl+C

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Copy object

3. Ctrl+K

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Insert hyperlink

4. Ctrl+X

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Cut object

5. Ctrl+V

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Paste object

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD has hundreds of commands and shortcuts.

6. Ctrl+Shift+C

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Copy to clipboard with base point

7. Ctrl+Shift+V

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Paste data as a block

8. Ctrl+Z

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Undo the last action

9. Ctrl+Y

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Redo the last action

10. Ctrl+[

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Cancel current command (or ctrl+\)

11. ESC

Shortcut type: Manage Workflow

What does it do?: Cancel current command

Here are some more one-key shortcuts for AutoCAD

1. Q

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: QSAVE ("Quicksave")/Saves the current drawing.

2. A

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: ARC/Creates an arc.

3. Z

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: ZOOM/Increases or decreases the magnification of the view in the current viewport.

4. W

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: WBLOCK/Writes objects or a block to a new drawing file.

5. S

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: STRETCH/Stretches objects crossed by a selection window or polygon.

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD has many useful shortcuts.

6. X

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: EXPLODE/Breaks a compound object into its component objects.

7. E

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: ERASE/Remove objects from a drawing.

8. D

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: DIMSTYLE/Creates and modifies dimension styles.

9. C

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: CIRCLE/Creates a circle.

10. R

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: REDRAW/Refreshes the display in the current viewport.

11. F

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: FILLET/Rounds and fillets the edges of objects.

12. V

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: VIEW/Saves and restores named views, camera views, layout views, and preset views.

13. T

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: MTEXT/Creates a multiline text object.

14. G

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: GROUP/Creates and manages saved sets of objects called groups.

15. B

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: BLOCK/Creates a block definition from selected objects.

75+ essential AutoCAD shortcuts and commands for the speedy engineer
AutoCAD shortcuts and commands can help you perform a variety of tasks.

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16. H

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: HATCH/Fills an enclosed area or selected objects with a hatch pattern, solid fill, or gradient fill.

17. J

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: JOIN/Joins similar objects to form a single, unbroken object.

18. M

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: MOVE/Moves objects a specified distance in a specified direction.

19. N

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: NEW/Create a new drawing.

20. I

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: INSERT/Inserts a block or drawing into the current drawing.

21. O

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: OFFSET/Creates concentric circles, parallel lines, and parallel curves.

22. L

Shortcut type: One-key shortcuts

What does it do?: LINE/Creates straight line segments.

And that's your lot for today.

We've covered a lot of ground above, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. We recommend you check out Autodesk's official guides if you can't find the shortcut or command you are looking for above.