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.