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Architectural Drafting
Using AutoCAD
Creating and Adjusting
Tool Palettes

The Tool Palettes window, shown in Figure 1, provides a quick way to access
blocks, hatch patterns, drawing and editing tools, external references, and other
drawing content. The Tool Palettes window is divided into tool palettes, each
indicated by a tab along the side of the palette. You can create tool palettes with
customized settings. For example, you can store blocks with a variety of different
scale settings and object properties.
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tool palettes:
Collections of
related blocks,
hatches, and other
tools arranged in a
visual palette format
for quick selection.

Tool palettes store many different types of


drawing content and tools, such as AutoCAD
drawing and editing tools, customized tools, userdefined macros, script files, and AutoLISP routines.
The Command Tool Samples tool palette contains
examples of custom tools. For more information on
AutoCAD customization and using tool palettes,
refer to the Goodheart-Willcox text AutoCAD and
Its ApplicationsAdvanced.

Figure1.

Auto-hide

The Tool Palettes


window. Select
a tab to insert a
variety of drawing
content or activate
tools.

Properties

Active tab
(palette)
Blocks
available
in palette
Scroll down
to access
more tools

Additional
palette tabs

Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes 

Tool Palettes Window Properties


Right-click on the Tool Palettes window title bar or select the Properties button
to display a shortcut menu of options for controlling the Tool Palettes window. Many
of the selections adjust the appearance of the window. As with most other palettes,
you can alternate the display of the Tool Palettes window by picking the Auto-hide
button on the Tool Palettes window title bar, or selecting Auto-hide from the shortcut
menu. Turning on the Auto-hide setting hides the palette area of the window when
unused. Tool palettes appear when you move the cursor over the title bar. When you
move the cursor outside of the window, tool palettes hide but the title bar remains.
The shortcut menu contains several other options that affect the appearance
of the Tool Palettes window. Check the Allow Docking option to have the ability
to dock the window. You can move, resize, or close the Tool Palettes window in
the same manner as most other palettes. Use the cursor or the related option in
the shortcut menu to make the desired changes.
To adjust the transparency of the Tool Palettes window, select the
Transparency shortcut menu option to open the Transparency dialog box. See
Figure2. Move the General slider to change the window transparency. The Rollover
slider adjusts the transparency of the window when you hover the cursor over the
window, and cannot be less than the General transparency. Move the sliders to
the right to make the window more transparent. Pick the Click to Preview button
to observe the effects of changing the Rollover transparency. Options are also
available for applying the transparency settings to all tool palettes, not just the
current tool palette, and disabling transparency.

Figure2.

The transparency
level of the Tool
Palettes window
can be set in the
Transparency
dialog box.

Move to adjust
the transparency
of the window
Move to adjust
the transparency
when hovering
over the window

Locating and Viewing Content


To view the content of a tool palette, pick the related tab. If the Tool Palettes
window contains more palettes than what appears on screen, pick on the bottom
edge of the lowest tab to display a menu listing the available palettes. Select the
name of the tool palette to display the tool palette. Use the scroll bar on the side of
the Tool Palettes window to access unseen content. You can also pan the tool palette
by placing the cursor over an empty area of a tool palette until the pan, or hand,
cursor appears. Pick and drag to pan, or scroll, the tool palette up and down.

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Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes 

To adjust the appearance of tools in each tool palette, right-click on a tool


palette and select View Options to display the View Options dialog box. See
Figure 3. Adjust the size of the tool icon by moving the Image size: slider. The
option buttons in the View style: area control how content displays in the tool
palette. The Icon only setting displays the icon only, which is a preview image.
The Icon with text setting displays the icon with the tool name below. The List view
setting displays the tool name next to the icon. The Apply to: drop-down list
allows you to specify how to assign view settings. You can choose to apply the
settings to the current tool palette only or to all tool palettes.

Figure3.

Settings in the View


Options dialog
box control how
content displays
in the Tool Palettes
window.

Select to
where the
settings
are applied

Tool
appearance
settings

Creating Tool Palettes


To create a new tool palette, select New Palette from the shortcut menu. A
new, blank tool palette forms and a default name appears highlighted in a text
box next to the tab. Enter a name that identifies the content of the tool palette. You
can use a variety of methods to add tools to new or existing tool palettes.

Adding Blocks from DesignCenter


You can use DesignCenter to create a new tool palette and add individual
tools to an existing tool palette. For example, to add individual blocks to a tool
palette from DesignCenter, use the drag-and-drop method. First, display the
blocks to add to the tool palette in the content area of DesignCenter. Then, open
the Tool Palettes window and display the tool palette that will store the blocks.
Finally, drag each block from DesignCenter and drop it into the tool palette. If
a tool palette is not already available, right-click on the block in DesignCenter
and select Create Tool Palette from the shortcut menu. Enter a name for the tool
palette to create a new tool palette containing the selected block.
You can also use DesignCenter to create a new tool palette that contains all existing
blocks in a drawing. To use this method, right-click on the drawing file name in
DesignCenter and select Create Tool Palette. Figure4 shows how to create a new palette
from the AutoCAD sample House Designer file. The resulting tool palette consists of all
of the blocks in the file and has the same name as the file. You can also create a tool
palette in this manner by expanding the contents of a drawing file in the tree view area
and right-clicking on the Blocks listing, and selecting Create Tool Palette.
Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes 

Figure4.

Right-click on
a drawing in
DesignCenter and
select Create Tool
Palette to create a
new tool palette
with the name
of the drawing
file. All block
definitions in the
drawing become
tools in the palette.

Selected file

If you have multiple drawing files in a folder and want to create a tool palette
that consists of all of the blocks combined from all of the drawing files, navigate
to the folder in the tree view area of DesignCenter. Next, highlight and then rightclick on the folder and select Create Tool Palette of Blocks. A new tool palette
appears in the Tool Palettes window with the name of the folder.

Adding Blocks from the Current Drawing


Use the drag-and-drop method to add a block from the current drawing to a
tool palette. Open the Tool Palettes window and select the tool palette where the
block is to be stored. Next, pick the block to highlight it and then pick anywhere
over a highlighted portion of the block and drag it onto the tool palette. Do not pick
the block grip box during this step. If you pick the block grip, AutoCAD thinks you
are trying to move the block in the drawing area, not drag it onto a tool palette.

Adding an Entire Drawing as a Tool Palette


To add an entire drawing file, not just the blocks it contains, to a tool palette from

DesignCenter, first select the folder where the file resides in the tree view area of
DesignCenter. Then, drag the file from the content area onto the tool palette. When the

file inserts into a drawing from the tool palette, it becomes a block in the drawing.
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Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

A block added to a tool palette links directly to the


drawing file in which it resides. If you modify the block
in the source file, inserting it from a tool palette inserts
the updated block. The preview image in the palette
does not reflect changes to the block. To update the icon,
you must delete and then reinsert the tool, or change
the tool properties in the Tool Properties window.

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes 

Activity 1
1. Start AutoCAD if it is not already started.
2. Start a new drawing using your Arch-Template.dwt template or the ArchTemplate.dwt template available from the student Web site.
3. Open DesignCenter and move it to the left side of the drawing area.
4. Open the Tool Palettes window and move it to the right side of the
drawing area.
5. In DesignCenter, open the Folders tab and navigate to the AutoCAD
Sample\DesignCenter folder.
6. In the content area of DesignCenter, right-click on the House Designer file
and select Create Tool Palette from the shortcut menu.
7. Create a new tool palette and name it My Blocks.
8. In DesignCenter, select the Home-Space Planner file in the tree view area.
9. In the content area, double-click on Blocks to display the blocks in the
Home-Space Planner file.
10. Drag as many blocks as you wish from DesignCenter onto the My Blocks
palette.
11. Close DesignCenter. Do not save the drawing.

Adding Hatch Patterns, Gradients, and Images to a


Palette
One option for adding hatch patterns, gradients, and images to the Tool
Palettes window to use the drag-and-drop method, from either the current
drawing or DesignCenter. To add a hatch pattern, gradient fill, or image to a tool
palette from the current drawing, first open the desired tool palette in the Tool
Palettes window. Select the object in the drawing to highlight it and then pick
anywhere on the hatch, gradient, or image (do not select the grip) and drag it into
the tool palette.
In order to add a hatch pattern to a tool palette from DesignCenter, you must
first define the pattern in a hatch pattern file (PAT file). The acad.pat and acadiso.
pat files store the predefined hatch patterns provided with AutoCAD. These files
must be located in DesignCenter to access the predefined hatch patterns. By
default, these files are stored in the Support File Search Path folder. You can determine the path by accessing the Files tab of the Options dialog box and identifying
the path listed under Support File Search Path. Once you locate a hatch pattern file
in the tree view area of DesignCenter, its contents display in the content area of
DesignCenter. You can then add the hatch patterns to a tool palette.
To create a tool palette that contains all of the hatch patterns in a single PAT
file, right-click on the hatch pattern file in the tree view area and select Create
Tool Palette of Hatch Patterns. To add an individual hatch pattern to a tool palette,
drag the pattern from the content area and drop it onto the desired tool palette. To
add an image file to a tool palette using DesignCenter, first locate the folder that
contains the file in the tree view area. Then, drag the image file from the content
area and drop it onto the desired tool palette.

Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes 

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When AutoCAD opens, it loads support files


that it needs to run, such as the acad.pat hatch pattern
file. One way to determine where a file is located
on the hard drive is to use the FINDFILE AutoLISP
function. This function searches for files in the
current folder, the AutoCAD program files folder,
and the Support File Search Path folder. For example,
to find the location of the acad.pat file, type (FINDFILE
ACAD.PAT). Press [Enter] to display the file.

Arranging and Customizing Tool Palettes


Once you create a set of tool palettes, there are a number of ways to organize
them in the Tool Palettes window. For example, you can arrange tool palettes
into groups for quick identification and access. In addition, if you are working
in a multiuser environment, you can import tool palettes. This is a way to access
drawing tools, such as symbol libraries that meet company or school standards.
You can also export tool palettes so that they are available to others, and rename
tool palettes as needed.

Creating a Tool Palette Group


A tool palette group consists of a number of named tool palettes. For example,
it may be useful to have an Architectural tool palette containing individual tabs for
doors, windows, details, symbols, and notes. You might create an Electrical tool
palette with tabs for outlets, switches, and lighting fixtures. You can also divide
tool palette groups into subgroups.
To create a tool palette group, right-click in a blank area of a tool palette or on
the Tool Palettes window title bar and select Customize Palettes. This displays
the Customize dialog box shown in Figure 5. In the Palette Groups: area, rightclick and select New Group to add a new group to the tree with a default name
highlighted. Type a name for the new group and press [Enter]. To add a palette

Figure5.

You can use the


Customize dialog
box to create tool
palette groups.

Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

Right-click
to display
the shortcut
menu

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes

Figure6.

Tool palettes are


added to a group
by dragging them
from the Palettes:
area to the Palette
Groups: area. A
The available tool
palettes appear
in the Palettes:
area. BA palette
is added to the
Electrical group.

B
to the new group, select the tool palette in the Palettes: area and drag it to just
below the group name in the Palette Groups: area. Figure6 shows examples of
tool palette groups.
You can access tool palette group editing options from the shortcut menu
displayed by right-clicking on a group name in the Palette Groups: area. Select
New Group to create a new tool palette group within the selected group, or a
subgroup. You can also rename or delete the selected group. If the selected group
is current in the Tool Palettes window, the Delete option is not available. Select
Set Current to switch the Tool Palettes window to display the selected tool palette
group. To remove a tool palette from a group, right-click on the tool palette in the
Palette Groups: area and select Remove. You can also drag the tool palette from
the Palette Groups: area to the Palettes: area.
After closing the Customize dialog box, you can switch between tool palette
groups by picking the Properties button on the Tool Palettes window title bar.
The tool palette groups list at the bottom of the shortcut menu. See Figure7.

Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes

Figure7.

Setting a tool
palette group
current by picking
the Properties
button.

Tool palette
groups

Current group

Select a tool palette group to make its tool palettes available in the Tool Palettes
window. The All Palettes option makes all tool palettes available in the Tool
Palettes window.
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You can create a new tool palette in the


Customize dialog box by right-clicking in the
Palettes: area and selecting New Palette.

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Importing and Exporting Tool Palettes and Groups


When you create a new tool palette or tool palette group, it is good practice
to export it as a file to create a backup copy. Exported tool palettes save as XTP
files. Exported tool palette groups save as XGP files. Once saved to a file, you can
import a tool palette or tool palette group.
To export a tool palette, right-click on the palette in the Palettes: area of the
Customize dialog box and select Export. See Figure8. The Export Palette dialog

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Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes

Figure8.

Tool palette
export and
import options

You can use the


Customize dialog
box to import or
export tool palettes
and tool palette
groups.

box displays. This is a standard save dialog box. Navigate to the folder to store
the file, name the file, and pick the Save button.
To export an individual tool palette group, right-click on the group name in
the Palette Groups: area of the Customize dialog box and select Export. The
Export Group dialog box displays. This is a standard save dialog box. To export
all tool palette groups to an XGP file, right-click in a blank area of the Palette
Groups: area and select Export All. This also opens the Export Group dialog box.
In either case, navigate to the folder to store the file, name the file, and pick the
Save button. The tool palettes within the group do not export with the group.
To import a tool palette, open the Customize dialog box and right-click in the
Palettes: area and select Import to open the Import Palette dialog box. This is a
standard open dialog box. Locate the XTP file and pick the Open button. The
tool palette is available in the Customize dialog box.
To import a tool palette group, right-click on an existing group name or in the
empty area below the groups in the Palette Groups: area of the Customize dialog
box and select Import. The Import Group dialog box displays. Locate the XGP
file and pick the Open button. The tool palette group is available in the Customize
dialog box.
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Copyright by Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.

When you add or delete content from a


tool palette, export it to update the saved file.
In a multiuser environment, tool palettes can be
imported and exported to maximize efficiency.
For example, you can create tool palettes at one
workstation and then export them to a network
drive. Other users of the network can then import
the tool palettes.

Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes

Renaming, Rearranging, and Deleting Tool Palettes


To rename or delete a tool palette, right-click on the tab name and select the
appropriate shortcut menu option. The tool palette must be active, or on top, in
order for Delete Palette to appear in the shortcut menu. To move a tool palette up
or down in the Tool Palettes window, right-click on the tab name and select Move
Up or Move Down.

Creating Sections within a Tool Palette


Visually grouping tools within a tool palette is useful when there are similar
types of tools, but not enough to justify a new tool palette. For example, the tool palette
in Figure9A contains four block tools. Two of the tools are for inserting elevation
views of door blocks; the other two are for plan views of door blocks. A header or a
dividing line allows you to create a visual grouping of tools within this tool palette.
To add a header or dividing line, right-click in the tool palette between the
tools where the header or dividing line is to appear to display the shortcut menu
shown in Figure9B. To place a header, select Add Text. To place a dividing line,
select Add Separator.
When you select Add Text, an edit box appears between the two tools with
a default name highlighted. Type a label for the header, such as PLAN VIEW, and
press [Enter]. The header adds to the tool palette. You can also display a header at
the top of the tool palette to clarify the visual grouping. See Figure9C.
To change the header label, right-click on the header and select Rename. An
edit box replaces the label. Type a new label and press [Enter]. To delete a header,

Figure9.

AThis palette contains elevation and plan views of doors. Visual grouping by adding
a header will help distinguish the elevation views from the plan views. BRight-click
between the tools where you want the header added and select Add Text from the
shortcut menu. CHeaders have been added to group the tools.

Select
to
add a
header
or
dividing
line

A
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Headers
added

C
Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes10

right-click on the header and select Delete. To delete a dividing line, right-click on
it and select Delete. You can move a header or dividing line within the palette by
picking on it, holding, and dragging it to the new location.

Activity 2
1. Start AutoCAD if it is not already started.
2. Start a new drawing using your Arch-Template.dwt template or the ArchTemplate.dwt template available from the student Web site.
3. Open the Tool Palettes window.
4. Right-click on the title bar and select Customize Palettes from the
shortcut menu.
5. Create four new tool palettesDoor, Window, Details, and Notes.
6. Create a new palette group named Architectural Residential.
7. Drag the Door, Window, Details, and Notes tool palettes into the Architectural
Residential tool palette group.
8. Close the Customize dialog box.
9. Display only the Architectural Residential tool palette group in the Tool
Palettes window.
10. Save the drawing as act-2.

Modifying Tools and Tool Properties


When working with several different palettes in the Tool Palettes window,
it may be useful to copy or move the content of one palette to another. In addition, you may want to change the properties of blocks in certain palettes so that
they vary from those in the source file or other palettes. You can modify blocks
residing in tool palettes to have different properties when inserted, such as
different scales and rotation angles. You can modify hatch patterns in the same
manner. For example, you may want to specify a different angle for an inserted
pattern. The properties override the defined object properties when you insert
the object.
To copy a tool from a tool palette to another tool palette, right-click on the tool
icon and select Copy. To move a tool from a tool palette to another tool palette,
right-click on the tool icon and select Cut. You can now paste the tool onto another
tool palette. To delete a tool, right-click on its icon and select Delete. An alert
message appears. Select OK to delete the tool.
To rename a tool, right-click on its icon and select Rename. Depending on the
viewing option set in the View Options dialog box, the name of the tool may not
display with the tool in the palette. If the name does not display, pick Rename to
display the tool name to rename.
If you modify a block used in a tool palette, the preview image of the block
in the tool palette does not automatically update to reflect the changes. To update
the image in the Tool Palettes window, right-click on the tool and select Update
tool image. The image is then updated and a CDC file, which is the DesignCenter
preview, is placed in the same folder as the drawing file. However, you must save
the drawing file containing the block before the image can update.
To view and modify the properties of a tool, right-click on the tool in the Tool
Palettes window and select Properties to display the Tool Properties dialog
box. See Figure10. A preview of the tool appears in the Image: area and the tool

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Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes11

Figure10.

AThe Tool Properties window for a block tool. BThe Tool Properties window for a
hatch pattern tool.

Tool icon for


hatch pattern

Tool
icon
for
block

name appears in the Name: text box. You can enter a description for the tool in the
Description: text box if necessary.
The specific properties displayed in the Tool Properties dialog box depend
on the selected tool. For a block tool, Insert is the first category. See Figure10A.
The Name setting lists the name of the block in the source drawing file that will
insert. It has to be the exact name of a block definition in the source file. The
Source file setting identifies the location and name of the drawing file in which
the block resides. To modify this setting, highlight Source file and pick the ellipsis
() button. This opens the Select Linked Drawing dialog box, which allows you to
change the source drawing file.
The Scale setting specifies the scale of the block in relation to the block definition size. By default, the Auxiliary Scale value is None. Setting the value to Dimscale
or Plot scale overrides the Scale setting. The Dimscale option specifies the scale of
the block as the value entered in the Use overall scale of: text box in the Fit tab of the
Dimension Style dialog box. The Plot scale option specifies the scale of the block as
the value entered in the Scale: text box in the Page Setup or Plot dialog box.
The Rotation setting specifies the rotation angle used when the block inserts.
The Prompt for Rotation setting determines whether a prompt asks for the rotation angle when inserting the block. The default setting is No. The Explode setting
determines whether the block explodes when inserted. The default setting is No.
The first category in the Tool Properties window for a hatch pattern is Pattern.
See Figure 10B. The settings in this category correspond to the options in the
Boundary Hatch dialog box.

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Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes12

The Tool Properties window has identical property settings in the General
category for blocks and hatch patterns. These are the Color, Layer, Linetype, Plot
style, and Lineweight settings. As with other object properties, you can modify
these settings to produce different results when inserting a block or hatch pattern
from the Tool Palettes window.

Activity 3









1. Start AutoCAD if it is not already started.


2. Open act-2.
3. Open the Tool Palettes window and display all palettes.
4. Open the Architectural palette.
5. Right-click on the Fluorescent (Recessed)Imperial tool and pick Copy from
the shortcut menu.
6. Open the My Blocks palette.
7. Right-click in the palette and select Paste from the shortcut menu.
8. Right-click on the Fluorescent (Recessed)Imperial tool in the My Blocks
palette and select Delete in the shortcut menu.
9. Right-click in the My Blocks palette and select Delete Palette in the shortcut
menu.
10. Save the drawing as act-3.

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Creating and Adjusting Tool Palettes13