AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”

AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”

Note: there are updated versions of this post for AutoCAD 2010, 2011 and 2012. If you’re running a more recent release of AutoCAD, have a look at the post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal” instead.

One thing that’s regularly asked whenever a new AutoCAD release hits the streets is how to make it work like the last release. I think you should give any new features a fighting chance before turning them off or ignoring them, but that’s entirely your choice. Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to go back to the future; how do you do it?

  • Menus and Ribbon. You can turn menus on with MENUBAR 1, close the Ribbon with RIBBONCLOSE, and so on. However, there’s an easier way; just switch workspaces. In the bottom right corner there is a little button that looks like a gearwheel. This is the Workspace control. Click on it and pick the item called AutoCAD Classic.
  • Dashboard. The Dashboard is gone, but you can have a vertical Ribbon instead. If the Ribbon is not visible (it won’t be if you just selected the AutoCAD Classic workspace), enter RIBBON to bring it back. In the tab title row (the bar with the word Home in it), right-click and pick Undock. Now you can place and size your Dashboard-like thing as you see fit. As before, you can right-click on things to change the various settings. However, getting the contents exactly the way you want it usually involves using CUI, and that’s well outside the scope of this post.
  • Background. Many of you will want a black background, of course. Right-click on the drawing area and pick Options…, then pick the Display tab. Don’t be tempted to choose Color Scheme and set it to Dark, because that just changes the appearance of various user interface elements. Instead, pick the Colors… button. On the left, choose a context you want to change (e.g. 2D model space), choose the appropriate background element (e.g. Uniform background) and choose the particular shade that takes your fancy. There is a Restore Classic Colors button, but that only takes you back to AutoCAD 2008. When you’re done, pick Apply & Close, then OK.
  • Status bar. Right-click on a status bar button, turn off Use Icons and your text-based status bar buttons will return.
  • Classic commands. If you prefer not to leave the various new palettes on screen all the time, old versions of various commands are still available: ClassicLayer, ClassicXref and ClassicImage. Going back further, there are command-line methods of doing the same thing: -Layer, -Xref, XAttach, -Image and ImageAttach.

If you’ve allowed AutoCAD to migrate your settings (I never do), some of the above will already be done for you, but by no means all of it.

One of the great things about AutoCAD is that we can still do this sort of thing. Microsoft has a lot to learn from Autodesk in this regard. If you’re using Word 2007, you are going to have a Ribbon and that’s the end of it, so be a good little user and learn to love it. Oh, and don’t even think about trying to modify it. Whatever you might think about Autodesk’s development priorities, design decisions and feature implementation, at least in most cases Autodesk leaves us with a choice.


  1. hi…

    great post, but i want to go “more back” with the “restore” the old autocad interface, so is an option to quit the new dark/light color scheme (this with gradients like web 2.0 butons) and put like before?¿


  2. No, there’s no option for doing that. I noticed Ralph Grabowski suggested that the Dark/Light thing might open the door for developers to provide AutoCAD “skins”. In any case, I suspect a crafty hacker could find and modify the resources involved. Right now there’s nothing to do what you are after, though.

  3. dave ea

    great post Steve. i think it would be wonderful if Autodesk shipped a document that explained how to get the latest release looking/behaving like the last one for those who are truly focused on productivity and who don’t have the time (maybe later they will) to mess around with new features and interfaces. love your blog so far. -dave

  4. Patricia

    Wonderful stuff!Why is it deemed necessary to change the look of a programme with every new release? I would be happier if they sorted out the bugs in the current release before even thinking about a new one.
    I bought a new laptop with Vista and Office with ribbons.
    Hated it.
    Had the OS changed to XP and went back to my old version of office. Perfect.

  5. BRaduu

    I’m wondering if there is any chance to change the interface with the old one. I’m more familiar with the old look (skin, icons). If you copy the Acad 2008 icons and rewrite the new 2009 ones maybe most of the toolbar comands will look same as ’08. I’m not a specialist but I think this coud be possible…and now the questions: how to do that and where the comand icons can be found ? 10x

  6. bob

    Hi I’m Trying to bring back AUTOCAD Classic workspace but when I click on the gear at the bottom right hand corner there is no option for the AutoCAD Classic only: Design, Document, Detail, and Visualization Any help would be great thanks!

  7. It sounds like you may be using one of the vertical products such as AutoCAD Architecture, and that team hasn’t provided you with a Classic workspace. In that case, you’ll have to make your own. Start with MENUBAR 1 and RIBBONCLOSE, then right-click on the QAT (the little toolbar near the red A) to turn on the toolbars you want.

  8. Hal

    You Have atoCAD Architecture. To get back to AutoCAD Classic type OP (options) on the command line. Click on Profiles and this will now give you the option of stan alone AutoCAD. Set current. However I have found it defaults back to Architecture on next opening. I don’t use the Arcitecture interface so I have deleted it in Profiles and now it only loads AutoCAD complete with the Classic Workspce option each time, so far with no problems. This also means it doesn’t load a lot of unwanted architecture bits at start up, although the open splash screen still says AC Architecture.

  9. Matt Collins

    OK…I’ve spent an hour RE-configuring my workspace to my productive “happy place”. How do I get the familiar icons back?

    The new, redesigned icons, while possibly cool to rookies, are a pain to those of us who have the familiar buttons burned into our cortex already.

    I’m also in the “put my boot through the screen” division.

  10. Thank you so much for the great article. I was going nuts with the ribbon menu. I tried to get used to it, used it for about 2 weeks but I just couldnt. I’m an icons person, so I like to have everything on plain sight. I almost changed back to 2008 just because I hated the ribbon so much. Now I can work normally. Thanks.

  11. Alina

    I have to say thank you not only to Steve, but to Hal re bringing back the AutoCAD classic workspace – I didn’t realise the Architecture interface didn’t offer it. I too, was in the boot through the screen camp.

  12. Hammer

    If you modify the shortcut to load a certain profile instead of the autocad default profiles, this will solve the problem in AutoCAD Architectural and other verticals. Saves you loading the profile manually every time you open Architectural

  13. stacey

    not going to lie… i grew up on 2000 and still use it daily in the office (we’re a little old school… atleast i got them off of r14)but school switched up to 2009 and i am all about the boot in screen camp. thanks for the help!

  14. Gary Norman

    I hated ribbon’s at first, I went to classic and set up as normal, but went back to ribbons soon after. I went into customize and changed my home ribbon to have all my usual commands and even added the breakline and mtext convertor from the express tools. I have used AutoCAD since v14 and love the new ribbons. Just give them a go.

  15. The layers are stored in each drawing and are not affected by a new release of AutoCAD. Maybe you had a template drawing set up in your previous release, with all the layers set up? If so, you need to find it, copy it across and use the Options command’s File tab to point AutoCAD at it.

  16. leo

    I can switch between the new ribbons and the classic AutoCad. However I have gotten used to the new ribbons. I generall like them except for object snaps. The only problem I have with osnaps is that it requires lots of key strokes especially if I am using tangent or paralell. Is there a way I can have th old object snap tool bar vertical on the right side of the screen? This way I can pick the particulat snap I want with one click without going to that menu on the bottom

  17. There are many ways of getting at osnaps and they all have 3-letter abbreviations (including TAN and PAR), but if the osnap toolbar combined with the Ribbon works best for you, you can certainly have it.

    Let’s assuming you have just chosen the 2D Drafting and Annotation workspace and want to add the Osnap toolbar. Right-click on a button in the QAT (the fixed-location toolbar next to the red A), then pick Toolbars > AutoCAD > Object Snap. The toolbar should appear, and you just drag and drop it to your desired location.

  18. Joy, it sounds as if you possibly don’t have the default acad.cui as your main menu. That’s a perfectly valid way to work, but only if you set things up like that on purpose! Enter the CUI command and see if you can see ACAD at the top level of the tree. If it is, then you can right-click on it and perform a restore or reset.

    All this advice is provided as-is, for you to assess and use at your own risk, based on guesswork from very limited information. This is really the sort of thing you should have a local support person doing, such as a CAD Manager or support staff from your reseller.

  19. Regina


    I have autocad architecture, successfully close all the ribbons as you suggested. But now having trouble to get the normal icon toolbars back (layer, draw, etc…) I clicked the QAT and found this long list of commands to choose, but then how to get those to the toolbars on the screen?

  20. In AutoCAD, clicking the QAT should give you a Toolbars option, under which is list of CUI files, under each of which should be a list of toolbars. You should be able to just click on each one you need turned on. But I’ve never even seen AutoCAD Architecture, so maybe things are different there.

  21. chris

    I’ve been using acad2009 for a year now using “autocad classic”, and I would like to give the new ribbons a try. However, I might have accidentaly deleted the ribbons a while back during the time when I’m trying to figure out how to switch it to classic view. A note saying “The Ribbon does not have any tabs or panels currently loaded” everytime i switch the workspace to 2D Drafting & Annotation and 3D Modeling. How can I turn the ribbons up again? Appreciate the help. Thanks!

  22. Before you do anything, use the Options command’s Files tab to find out what your main CUI file is. I’ll assume here that you’re using acad.cui as your main. Make a safe copy of that acad.cui file. Now, in the CUI command, right-click on where it says Restore ACAD.CUI. Pick OK and see if that worked. You may need to restart AutoCAD and/or pick the workspace again. If that didn’t work, repeat the above but with Reset ACAD.CUI. Once you have a functional Ribbon, you may need to use the CUI Transfer tab to bring in any custom stuff from your safe copy of the old acad.cui to the restored acad.cui.

    Or you could just use AutoCAD 2010, which has a better Ribbon. 🙂

  23. Dazza

    Dont get me wrong, change CAN be good. Ive been using Autocad since R10 and its just getting further out of my productive happy place. Admittedly Im using solidworks more and more but need to go back to Acad every now and then. These changes are just causing me to stay away longer next time.
    I really need to get back to a familar UI.


  24. Rich, if you mean what I think you mean, use the Units command. If your units are set to an inch-based format (e.g. Architectural), then the Area command’s display will look like this:

    Area = 47351.0 square in. (328.826 square ft.), Perimeter = 85′-1″

    Is that what you’re after? This setting is stored in each drawing. You can change the units setting in your template drawing if you wish, but this will only affect new drawings you create, not existing ones.

  25. rob seed

    The ribbon is not good. It is a tool designed to make it look as though Autodesk are busy justifying their fees to users while the best use of OUR cash would be to speed the program up – not slow it down. I used to teach AutCAD and ADT when it was quicker-8 years ago! what are you guys playing about at? I am appaled at the state you have allowed this bag of nails to get into. Saving a ‘small’ drawing using ‘intelligent’ databasing features is driving me bananas WAITING for results as I did when I was using a machine with 4Mb of RAM 18 years ago. Get with the program people and pull your finger out-Or I will move to ArchiCAD permanently-even if it means changing my job…I feel THAT annoyed. I will no longer recommend your software.

  26. Mark

    I’ve been using 2009 in the classic configuration for a while now, and the only problem I’ve had is that interface will revert back to a default configuration every three or four months. Is there any way to prevent this?

  27. Jenny

    I lose the ” PAPER/MODEL”in the bottom and besides the ” layout1 and layout 2″ of the autoCAD !! So I can’t adjust my paper and just can edit my model onli… Sob… Help me ! Thanks

  28. Chris Cowgill

    if you right click at the bottom, you can turn it back on by checking the paper/model option, or just use the tilemode system variable to switch back and forth. 1 is model space, 0 is paper space

  29. Chris Beard

    I am using AutoCAD 2009. I have saved a workspace, which appears in the customisation window, but every time I start up AutoCAD, no workspaces appear in the ‘Gear’ menu, and I have no ribbon tabs or panels.

    What is going wrong here?

    It takes me an hour to try to get back my previous settins each time. Im new to Autocad and love the software, but the learning process is taking so much longer because of this problem.

    Is it a file path setting?

    PLEASE, PLEASE advise, it is sooooooo frustrating.

    Regards Chris

  30. It’s hard to work out what’s going on there. There are lot of unknowns to do with how much you have changed things from the default arrangements (not that that’s a bad thing), but my first guess would be a corrupt Main CUI file.

    If you’re just using acad.cui as the Main, and if you don’t have any customisation to lose that you’re not losing every day anyway, you could try a reset. enter CUI, right-click on ACAD near the top left and pick Reset ACAD.CUI. That should put things back to the default state, after which you can change a few things around, save a workspace, close AutoCAD and see if things have improved.

    Please bear in mind that this is a long-range punt based on a lot of guesswork, and I can’t guarantee anything.

  31. Scott

    I’m finally getting around to using AutoCad 2009. Was perfectly content using 2006, but, alas, my Office is demanding I use 2009. I have it tweaked pretty well to look like 2006, but I have one more thing that’s driving me crazy! How do I get the Model/Paper button on the status bar to move from the right side to next to the other buttons (where it used to be on 2006)? Every time I go to use it, I hit the wrong button (LWT) and my blood pressure goes up. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  32. Chris Cowgill

    Scott, I dont think you can relocate/rearrange the buttons on the statusbar unless you use a 3rd party app. If some does now how I would love to know, I have 2 additional toggles I would like to add (OSNAPZ and EDGEMODE).

  33. Chris Cowgill

    Owen does have an app to allow you to add items to the status bar, but it only adds them at the far right (that I know of) on his freebies page. He has posted comments here before, maybe he’ll stop by and set us all straight.

  34. Donald

    I must have lucked out in an unintended command when tying to fast because now the Maximize and Restore Down button are in my workspace. Is there a toggle somewhere to move these buttons off of the current work space and back under the main’s minize buttons? I am using Autocad 2009 classic view.

  35. Thanks you for the post and help everyone… Just upgraded from 2007. It must be nice to know you can change your software to any extent you wish just because people have to learn it in order to keep up. I dont want to turn this into a rant session but c’mon autodesk, this is rediculous. After using autocad for over 15 years this ribbon crap is too much. I love usually love new releases in software, I even liked Vista.

  36. Hitchhiker

    I am using autocad 2010 and I wanted to change the bacground color of the model space to black. I tried to follow the instructions you posted under background but the display tabs shows nothing. All it says is to select component, which i am not able to. please help.

  37. Rob

    I have both AutoCad Architectural 2000 & 2009. I tried to open 2000 just the other day and the 2000 screen popped up for about 2 seconds and the shut down. Is there some way to fix this problem?

  38. Sorry Rob, I don’t have access to AutoCAD Architectural 2000 so I really have no idea. If it was working before on that PC and now isn’t, all sorts of things could have broken it in the meantime. Installing and uninstalling other apps, registry cleaners, anti-virus software, driver updates, hardware changes, all sorts of things. I suggest a repair install or reinstall of 2000 as one place to start.

  39. Matt

    Alright i was in my autocad 2009 and i clicked something on the left to try and view it another way. Now i cannot get back to my original state. My screen is completely white with my floor plan im working on. How can i get back to have the bars on the side and the file, view, etc on the top


    Thanks a lot for your help!!! I just installed the software and as soon as the new version runned I was shocked looking how the toolbars changed….Thanks for the “autocad classic gearwheel tip” the usual toolbar presentation is back!!!!!!!

  41. Ahmed

    hi, i have a simple qustion:i instulled AutoCad i need to move the tools on top to side..? like tools of AutoCad of 2007&6..
    so,plz giv me an option to do it..thank u.

  42. Lourdes Huber

    Some one please help!
    I have a huge problem…
    Autocad 2009 doesn’t show in the tool bar the layer of the selected object. It used to change and show in wich layer the object is. Do you think this is a bug? Or just a configuration trouble, i tryied to check in options, preferences, etc…
    Please help!
    Than you in advance!


  43. Last week my computer crashed and one of the victims of this was my AutoCAD 2009. Somehow all of my profiles were wiped out but I had taken screen shots that allowed me to put my toolbars and so forth back in order. I have not been able to find or restore the 2D ribbon layout with all of the tabs already in place when the program was first loaded on my computer though. Does this ribbon need to be recreated? I don’t want to customize it…I just want it the way it was when I first used 2009. Thank You!

  44. Bala

    Hi..this is Bala from india. I want the command that which can move the selected portion(in model) to the layout(automatically). Is there any command ? Please provide me if it is avaialble.

  45. DK

    I am using Autocadd 2010. If I dimension a length on a viewpoet it reflects the actual dimension in the model space but the same is not true for Area command. How do I fix this problem.

  46. luciano

    Autocad won´t start! After open a dwg file with a “student version” plot stamp, my autocad 2009 won´t sart! The cursor blinks and stop. Nothing happens. What´s happening? Tanks (and sorry my english).

  47. You can go to Options > Display and turn off Display paper background, after which the outside-paper background will be the same as the paper background, whatever you set that to. But if you want them different, I don’t know any way of doing that.

  48. Carlos S

    I’m currently using ACAD 2009, when someone sends me a CAD file sometimes I have trouble viewing the whole entire drawing. I’ve gone to layers to make sure everything is turned on but still nothing. Can someone let me know if their is a way to view every layer of the file being sent over, or do you thing the file could have been corupted?

  49. Amigos, problemas como mudar de a visualização da tela de 2009 para cad 2007,2008 esta no botão inferior direito parecido o desenho de uma catraca de bicicleta kkk cjama-se workspace Switching-autoCAD CLASSIC e pronto!

  50. Henry

    Steve, I complement you on your work helping others work efficiently with the newest Autocad versions! My baby was A-CAD 2004 and 2007, now working with A-CAD 2012 and have the screen set up w/ AutoCAD Classic. There is one major problem though- I need to bring up my favorite toolbars, such as Object Snap, Solids, Inquiry , and ET Layers (express tools). I pray there is a way to do this, because I used to simply go to View, Toolbars, then check the toolbars I wanted to display- this has also now changed. Any help would be truly appreciated!

  51. Daniel

    I am a returning student to Architecture and just got the Educational Version from my schoolbook purchase for AutoCAD2010. The last software I used was AutoCAD 2007 back in high/vocational school. I have time to mess with new features and lay-outs, but the white background was completely unwanted. Thanks for the info on how to change it, now I can experiment and really tune my version to a setting I truly enjoy and will use actively.

    1. If you need to restore a broken acad.cui (and possibly acad.mnr) file in AutoCAD 2009, you can usually find an original version in:

      C:Program FilesAutoCAD 2009UserDataCacheSupport

      You can use this to replace the broken file(s), typically located somewhere like this:

      C:Documents and Settings[user]Application DataAutodeskAutoCAD 2009R17.2enuSupport

      Obviously, in doing this you will lose all changes you have ever made to your toolbars, etc., so make safe copies of everything first. Once you have a basic working environment you might possibly be able to import some things from the renamed/copied broken file using the CUI command’s Transfer tab.

  52. Anda

    I am good using the Autocad 2004 but now I upgrad to use Autocad 2009. I have problem and i hate some shortcut menus in the drawing area. I need to turn off that menus such as:
    1. shortcut menus in the drawing area
    2. some things Show about the Specify: Codinate, size, Angle, . . . in the screen drawing area
    I need to its
    Kindly give me some solution

  53. Soutrik


    Love your post. I am an architect/PM – although I am CAD fluent, I don’t need to draft regularly and it always is an annoyance to see a CAD version upgrade every time my back’s turned. Most of the ‘upgrades’ are pointless, inane stuff more to probably justify another license than for any productive value add. It’s getting harder and harder to revert to the Classic version and your post was much appreciated. Thank you.

  54. Soutrik

    I am currently working in a space where they use ACAD 2012 Architecture. For some reason, however many times I reset the profile to ‘Classic’ it reverts back to the ‘Architecture’ (ribbon type BS) whenever it’s restarted. Any ideas how I could fix it so the default profile loaded will always be Classic?

    Thanks again.

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