Getting Started

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Getting Started:

Like most programs ACADUI requires a little patience during the learning stages. ACADUI provides an entirely different and more efficient way of working with AutoCAD.  It may initially surprise you to discover how little input is required when CAD is run efficiently.  This will require some personal adjustment from your regular way of working, time for the discovery of many more commands and the cryptic but highly efficient command shortcut language that binds ACADUI together and provides rapid access to AutoCAD’s hidden power.

Committed mouse users may initially question ACADUI’s intensely keyboard approach and both good mouse users and good keyboarders will need to adjust to ACADUI’s dramatically reduced input.

ACADUI can be learned and used sporadically but because of its highly integrated nature works most efficiently when it is used exclusively.  No harm will come from reverting to AutoCAD under moments of pressure but give yourself time to slow down for a few days and we promise that within a week you will never want to revert to standard AutoCAD.

You will begin to wonder why AutoCAD was not designed with this level of control and power in the first place.

First steps:

When you are ready to start go to Object Selection and Object Snap to refresh your memory of AutoCAD's basic drawing aids and to see how these are enhanced by TOOLS-UI and also Data Picks to see how the mouse is used more efficiently.

Start by experimenting with basic commands such as creating and editing objects.  Discover the reduced input and enhanced selection and snapping options.  Look for opportunities to use the right mouse button.  You may initially be frustrated by your old habit of pressing <enter> to confirm every step in a command but do not let the initial frustration put you off.  Entry of command options, once the command has started, requires only ONE key-stroke.  No <enter> key needed unless the response is a number or text string.  You will quickly become adapted to the flow of a much reduced input.

Experience has shown that once you have learned the basic construct of the command shortcut language you will be able to guess the name of unlearned commands that you are looking for and will also be able to predict the function of commands that you have not previously seen.

Command names:

KEYS-UI shortcut command names are arranged into functional groups that make both naming and remembering easier.  Most edit commands are given priority and have single keystroke names such as C for Copy and M for Move.  All Object creation commands are two-character e.g. PL Place Line and PA Place Arc.  Most other commands are arranged in logical groups and also require only two characters e.g. JF Join Fillet, JT Join Trim, JF Join chamFer, QA Query Area, QO Query Object (List).  Refer to Command list -Basic for further detail.

Command prompts:

Because of ACADUI’s greatly enhanced command functionality there is an inevitable increase in the number of command options.  As with AutoCAD, the last line of the command entry window displays a prompt for the next user action.  Explanatory notes or other options relating to the command are shown on the one or two lines above.  Often a fuller description may be obtained by scrolling back a few lines or by viewing the text-screen (F2).

Actions in response to a prompt may be of the following types:

  • Select objects.
  • Pick or enter a point.
  • Supply a value.
  • Accept a default value.
  • Select a command option. 

ACADUI often provides more than one default value.  When multiple options are available they may be accepted by pressing [spacebar], <enter>, tab:>, or <:backspace as indicated.  The [spacebar] is the most easily accessed and thus is the most commonly used. 

Both left and right mouse buttons are used for pointing and selecting.  The right mouse button is often used to select sub-entities within blocks or to select an alternative default value and is thus not always available as an alternative <enter>.  Keep an eye on the prompts to indicate the options

Keyboard and mouse:

Unlike AutoCAD aliases that are limited to the 26 letters of the alphabet, ACADUI uses almost every key on the keyboard including the numbers and their shifted versions such as brackets, # and @ symbols etc. providing approximately 50 options.  Interpretation of non‑alphanumeric characters is assisted by visual or mnemonic relationships such as “|” line-type, “$” style, “@” attribute.


Simple tutorials are provided to give you both a quick start into ACADUI commands and to explain their more advanced features.

AutoCAD settings:

There are very few restrictions in the way AutoCAD may be used with ACADUI however it has been written by CAD professionals with many years of experience and naturally incorporates their tried and tested way of working. For example: objects should always have color and line-type BYLAYER, text styles are defined with zero height.  

Recommended settings:

It is recommended that the following default standards be adopted:

  • Set number of Command: lines to at least three, preferably four.
  • All colours and line-types are defined BYLAYER (with rare exceptions such as within “0” layer blocks).  Some UILAYERS layer management tools depend on this condition and do not work well when objects have individual colours or line types.
  • Avoid changing the line-type scaling to BY OBJECT. In preference create appropriate layers using AutoCAD’s standard line types.  (This avoids confusion that may occur when SCALING BY OBJECT and LTSCALE are used concurrently.
  • Entities in most blocks should be layer 0.  Refer to Article “Block definition.” 
  • A range of text styles are created upon start-up and are used automatically by ACADUI Text and Dimension commands.  They are defined with 0 height so that several text sizes are available within the one style.  This more easily allows global change of text from one size to another.  (Avoid changing individual size properties of MTEXT as this prevents global redefinition of text styles).
  • Rather than using pre-set Osnaps; define them on-the-fly.  ACADUI single key press (with no <return>) is faster and avoids unexpected results associated with snapping accidentally on the wrong point.  ACADUI also provides access to several more Osnaps than provided by AutoCAD.
  • Attributes within blocks are generally defined as PRESET, to permit easier block insertion and avoid unexpected prompts for values during block insertion.
  • ACADUI currently provides three levels of layer name length: OFF (any length), SHT (5 chr.) and MED (12 chr.).  It is not essential to use UITOOLS  inbuilt layer tools but they ensure correct layer name input and provide for very powerful data management.
  • ACADUI uses AutoCAD’s default Rotation direction (anti-clockwise) and 0 degrees direction (due east).
  • CADUI has been written for decimal measure.  Some tools may malfunction in feet and inches mode.
  • ACADUI recommends the use of black screen and command-line backgrounds for clarity when viewing colours.
  • It has been noticed that many drafters are still not using Paper-space.  This is one of AutoCAD’s more important improvements and is strongly recommended whether or not ACADUI is being used.  There are many ACADUI tools that enhance the use of Paperspace. 
  • Drafters are urged to draw at a scale of 1:1 and adjust plot scale in Paperspace.
  • ACADUI is under constant development.  If you wish to operate outside of these parameters some unexpected results may occur.  Please contact us at to either download the latest version or post a description of the problem and your setup and we will endeavour to fix.
  • Currently the program is configured for a US keyboard.  Some characters may be relocated on other keyboards producing unexpected result but mostly this is restricted to the use of number keys instead of the shifted number key.  You will see what this means when you get to use some of the non-alpha-numeric characters. ‘t worry the shifted version will always work.
  • AutoCAD dynamic visual dragging does not function within AutoLISP applications however ACADUI does provide drag-lines showing distance and angle.  AutoCAD’s full visual dragging is usually required only when placing objects “by eye” rather than by precision snapping.  If for some reason AutoCAD dragging is required then use the standard AutoCAD command by prefixing the command alias with a back-quote, e.g. `C not C.

Learning ACADUI Shortcuts:

ACADUI groups most commands by function such as editing, object creation, joining, query etc.  Begin with the object creation and editing and commands that are relevant to your work and move on from there.

The most frequently used commands have single character names:

Array, Block, Copy, Dim, Erase, chanGe, Hatch, Insert, break, Locus (UCS), Move, reName, Osnap, Rotate, Solid, Text, Undo, View, Window, Xref, layer, Zoom, @ttedit, %scale, $tyle, |inetype, ^select, >redo, ~stretch, +render, =settings, *explode, /mirror, \reverse, #cal, |inetype, 3D.

Object creation commands start with “P” for Place:

Place Arc (PA), Place Box (PB), Place Circle (PC), and so on: Donut, Face, polygon, Hatch, sketch, Line, Mline, Node (point), Offset, Polyline, Rectangle, Solid.

Joining commands start with “J” for Join:

Join Extend (JE), Join chamFer JF) , Join Heal (JH), and so on: triM,  Radius, J fillet, * multi-join as pline 3 boolean operations.

File commands:

Too numerous to mention here but for example: (FG) purGe, (FP) Print,  (FU) Utilities, (FH) Hyperlink, FML Menuload.

Enquiry commands start with “Q” for Query:

Area (QA), Block-name (QB), Colour (QC), and so on: Distance, Entity, Group, thicKness, Length, Object, Text, laYer.

View commands:

These commands all start with V eg VO View Order = Draworder.  Refer to command list for details.  Including: View, Viewpoint, Hide, Edge, Camera, Grid, Isoplane, Plan, Draworder.

Window commands:

These commands are model/paperspace sensitive and execute the appropriate command depending upon whether Mspace od Pspace is current.  Refer to command list for details.  Including: Mview, Workspace, Mvsetup, Vplayer, Vclip.

User commands:

Your own custom user commands may be integrated with ACADUI by prefixing them with begin with – (dash) eg –D Door or # (hash) eg #F Frame.


These commands all begin with = (equal) eg  =A  set Aperture.