AutoCAD 2009 – Tooltips are bad for my sanity

In the general scheme of things, this is a relatively trivial issue, but it’s sometimes the little things that get under my skin. Winner of this year’s prize for most annoying new feature just has to be the new tooltips. They are really not good for my mental health. If I have tooltips turned on, I find it hard to use AutoCAD 2009 for more than a few minutes without wanting to smash my fist through the screen.

I would like to leave tooltips on just a little bit so they will let me get used to AutoCAD’s modified button appearance and location. All I want is a little one-word tooltip if I hover over a button, but I can’t have that. There is some control over tooltips to be had in the Options dialogue box:

Controlling tooltips in Options

Oh, sorry, you can’t see the options I’m trying to describe because there is a stupid great big tooltip in the way. What I’m trying to show is that if you turn off all but one of the toggles, you can at least avoid the embarrassing spectacle of AutoCAD covering up most of the screen with information about how to draw a line when you hover over the Line button. But you can’t persuade AutoCAD to just show you what the commands are, you have to have several lines of information, one of which is exactly the same for every single tooltip.

The least intrusive tooltip available

That’s not too bad I suppose, but try using a dialogue box. Nasty huge tooltips keep throwing themselves at you in a mad rush to obscure what you’re trying to see. You can move your cursor right out of the way to stop the tooltips from appearing, and then move it back again when you want to actually pick something, but what a waste of time, mental energy and wrist effort.

You didn't want to see what's under here

OK, so you’ve had enough of them? Want them all banished? Fine, back into Options, turn that last toggle off, pick OK (assuming it’s not obscured by a tooltip so you can see it) and you’re done. Or are you? Back into Options, pick the Files tab and do a bit of hovering.

Even when they are off they are on

Aaaagh! The stupid tooltip isn’t even accurate. It doesn’t describe what you’re hovering over, it describes the files category that’s selected, which could be off the screen. If nothing is selected, it describes the first category rather than what you’re hovering over. Duh.

OK, Autodesk people, own up. Who thought this was a good idea? Really, what on earth were you thinking?


  1. vmoreland

    I ranted about this on Autocad discussion groups. I was assured there that Autodesk don’t really give a rat’s ass what old users think….and the speculation was that maybe Autodesk was doing this kind of stuff on purpose to drive people to using model based products.

    Well….I don’t really believe it, but if it is true, I won’t be driven to Inventor because if they will will “dis” old time Autocad users, they will most certainly do the same to Inventor users.

    Meanwhile….I am going to go back to 2008 since 2009 is driving me nuts. The hope is that a service pack comes out that adresses this problem as well as others….like….”find” which zooms to the target, and upon closing the dialog box, zooms back out so that you don’t have any idea of where the “find” was within the drawing.

  2. PJ Lightning

    I totally agree. What is the point of a huge box that obscures everything. OK It’s useful to have something that gives a hint about the button, while you are learning. But eventually you KNOW what the bloody buttons sre and just need a small reminder for the ones you don’t use so often. I put a post in the C3d wish list for them to make tooltips a right click function. Then the info is there when you want it but not when you don’t

  3. Doug

    My suggestion (in addition to the others here) is to add a hover delay variable) That way after you become somewhat familiar with the icons, you can set the delay to say three or four seconds. That way, you are intentional about the tool tip appearing. Another option is to allow just the command name to appear in the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen similar to when you hover over a pull-down menu item.

  4. William

    The worst thing is that basically all the tooltips are on, or off…there is zero middle ground. I don’t mind tooltips to an extent because as you said, they help figuring out all the stupid GUI changes for 2009.

    But why oh why didn’t they include an option for an appearance delay? Sure, they included one for extended tooltips, fine…but one for regular tooltips that is user-adjustable would make my work much more sane. Now, I have to turn them on and off and on and off if I forget which buttons do which (the ones much less used). BUT…if I could set a hover delay of say, 5 seconds, that would insure that I don’t accidentally see any tooltip I don’t want to see and, as Doug mentioned above, any tooltip you want to see would definitely be intentional.

    One of the more annoying oversights in a program famous for high user customization.

  5. Thomas

    AutoCAD can’t come up with any useful feature. Therefore they have to come up with garbage to try and justify releasing a new package every 12 months. I have seen this happen more and more often. I haven’t installed my AutoCAD versions 2007, 2008 or 2009. I have stopped my subscription as they have continually added useless feature, that do NOT improve the software. I don’t think I will ever renew my subscription, especially since I watch all the complaints on their forums.

    It’s become quite obvious, AutoDesk doesn’t care about improving their software. They do care about making manditory releases every 12 months to get more money out of their users.

  6. Dave

    Did anyone come up with a solution for this in AutoCAD 2011? I am still fighting these large tooltips. I have the extended tooltips OFF. I only want a small tooltip, like they had in AutoCAD 2008. Am I forced to use the old version to get what I want? I just like the old smaller tooltips that don’t use so much space.

  7. Huh?

    There is all kinds of middle ground. There are 4 different toggles depending on which particular command types you want to turn the tooltips off from. Plus the option to vary there transparency (which is CLEVERLY hidden in the Tooltips Settings box of the Options menu… where no one apparently ever bothers looking.)

  8. I think you may be confusing the new-to-2009 user interface tooltips discussed in this post with the Dynamic Input drafting tooltips which were introduced by AutoCAD 2006. For the latter, you can indeed change the size and transparency using Options > Drafting > Drafting Tooltip Settings… (or Dsettings > Dynamic Input > Drafting Tooltip Settings…) but this has no effect on any of the things I’ve described in my post.

  9. PDSF

    This has gotten no better in v2012. These enormous “tips” drive me nuts, but I can’t turn them off because I need them occasionally (VERY occasionally). 100% agree with the need for a customizable delay.

  10. Richard Chalmers

    I agree that the tooltips are very annoying and 95% of the time are in the way. There needs to be a lot more control over them. A delay that the user can control would be good idea.

    However, AutoCAD’s newest idea for 2016 is to add sounds to everything. You’ll be able to adjust the sounds with the new two dozen system variables they’ll add…..just kidding! I agree that most of the upgrades are useless. I went from 2006 to 2014 with no problem and there were only one or two things in 2014 that really were an improvement. Then my company bought a subscription and now I’m using 2015. The one thing that really does seem like an improvement are the variable model space viewports. That they got right.

    And, of course, the ribbon just absolutely sucks.

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