AutoCAD 2009 – Do you use the menu bar?

AutoCAD 2009 – Do you use the menu bar?

You may have noticed that I’ve added a poll to find out if the AutoCAD 2009 users among you are using the menu bar (i.e. MENUBAR = 1). I’m also interested in hearing your comments about your usage and the reasons behind it.

If your menu bar turned on, why? Do you use it all the time or do you just need it for those less-frequently-used commands that you don’t have handy at your fingertips, on toolbars, palettes or the Ribbon? Do you need it because your own custom routines are on menus, or third-party commands? Does the vertical AutoCAD variant you’re using need it?

If your menu bar is turned off, why? Do you never have any need for the stuff in there? Do you use the Menu Browser instead, sacrificing an occasional extra click for the sake of a permanent strip of screen space?


  1. Milos Pertic

    my menubar is turned off
    left hand on keyboard (right on mouse) so I can easy access to drop-down menus with alt+… or click on menu browser…
    I have optimized enviroment-workspaces for work in model space and for work in paper space (maximum space on screen for work VS tools (icons) for maximum effeciency)…

  2. Janet

    I’d prefer to use the “A” to reduce screen clutter, but it’s slow (just enough to interrupt the work flow), so I keep going back to the menu bar.

    Actually I’d prefer to use most of the new interface structure – Ribbon, Quick Properties, new Layer dialog – and I tried them out for about 6 weeks before deciding drawing production was more important than a pretty interface.

  3. Chris Cowgill

    I have menubar=0 on my machine, and I try to encourage all the users in my office to do the same. To me, the extra screen space is invaluable. I have created a ribbon tab that contains all of my custom pull down menu functions, and have it set to be anchored to the left just below the small A (if you undock the ribbon, or shut it off, the big A becomes smaller). I use the menu browser most of the time for those obscure commands I dont remember from my custom arsenal. I remember the key-in for most of the AutoCAD commands I use.

  4. R. Paul Waddington


    “I, my, I’d, I”; the commencing word in each of the first replies to this post point directly to the core issue and “problem” interfaces pose in all situations.

    And can I say, whilst experienced ‘commercial only’ CADD users will all be able to provide detailed answers to your questions they are, probably, the worst users to ask in relation to the development of an interface.

    You could start wars with this topic and let me start (throwing grenades) by saying Autodesk would have been better off in the MCAD world if they had put more effort into developing functionality and marketing MDT – in preference to Inventor – offering a different interface, to MDT, for users, with a preference for the ‘look of Solidworks’ to use.

    Now having made that statement I can almost guarantee a reaction and I can also guarantee the reaction will be prefaced by, or bracketed by ‘I’. Put another way; I am yet to find a CADD software user that can remove him/herself from this argument and put themselves in the position of another users and make their comments based on those observations.

    Those of us who spend a large percentage of our working time teaching users how to use these systems and the students are the REAL test of an interface; and it is those same teachers who can tell you why no single user interface is better than another.

    To answer your questions;
    Q – “If your menu bar turned on, why?”
    A – Yes: in both commercial and training operation – reason because it is useful, when needed commercially, and indispensable as a training aid!

    Q – “Do you use it all the time ….. palettes or the Ribbon?”
    A – No: And neither do I use the other options full time. I use, and I teach users/student, to learn as many options as is possible to ensure the best utilization of the software.

    Q – “Does the vertical AutoCAD variant you’re using need it?”
    A – Yes: for the same reasons it is useful in vanilla AutoCAD.

    The trick to understand here is that when teaching I use a set of skills/command execution tools that is ‘sometimes/often – depends on… you see’ – different to that which I use when working commercially.

    Equally the tools/methods I may use in solving a problem for a customer will quite likely be totally different when I have worked out the solution and then have to teach the customer ‘how to’.

    In short I don’t believe CADD software interfaces are as important as many do. I also know that it is very WRONG to expect or ask others to be saddled with tools and methods that do not fit with their way of working. I personally, as do others I know, dislike, with a passion, Inventor’s interface and imposed rigid methodology. But that does not stop me from using and teaching it: but it does affect productivity and increases the cost of any job needing to be done using it; and it is the interface that it is fault not the functionality!

    One of the best things Autodesk can/should do – if they persist – in playing around with the interface is to ensure each of the methods remains available and let customers choose; not try and do this themselves by removing commands from one interface and only having it available in another. This is more likely to simply cheese users off as it reduces their productivity and ease of use and it is stunning that Autodesk has not woken up to this fact as yet!

    I repeat a statement I made in an earlier post, “Caveat – personal likes, dislikes, job requirements and work methods influence MINE and OTHER users’ views of EVERY function/command in software!”

    This statement is even ‘more true’ when talking about interfaces – of any kind. The hardest thing for any person to do is to remove the “I” – themselves that is – and replace it with another person’s eyes and thinking. But the moment you do, you see interfaces in a completely different light!

    I hope that is what your trying to do with these questions is find out why and for what reason(s).

    P.S. I would also be interested to know why Chris Cowgill may believe it is worth ‘encouraging’ other user to follow his lead and; would he be prepared to change, his view(s), if he looked at what was being done thru’ the others eyes?

  5. Paul, as I asked “do you use…”, it’s entirely reasonable and expected that people will respond by answering that question with I, me, etc. 🙂

    I’m just trying to find out what people use and why. I’m not trying to make any point about what’s best, I’m trying to expose myself to the viewpoints of others. Thank you for expressing yours.

  6. Wm.J.Townsend

    Aye, the menubar is on and waiting for me to pick any of the less frequently used commands or menu based macros for which I have no Lisp or PGP based two or three letter/number keyboard based command shortcuts.

    I have no use for the Menu Browser. It doesn’t scale to fit the screen height, it requires many more scrolls and clicks than I’m willing to waste time with, and the customization I’ve provided on the POP1 “File” menu kills the File menu in the Menu Browser. I think the Menu Browser was designed after one of the beer busts. This feature needs to have an on/off toggle.

    The ribbon that appeared in MS Office 2007 killed that upgrade path. My ACAD ribbon is banished forever as the toolbar for the BEDIT environment is of greater value to my productivity.

    Fact is that straight ACAD 2008 has been reinstalled on the laptop, replacing AIP 2009. The alcohol induced interface updates were too annoying to bother with any longer. I’m not counting on 2010 making me any happier.

  7. Chris Cowgill

    In answer to your question Paul: By encouragement, I mean that I setup the default profile in AutoCAD for our office to have it shut off (which is AutoCAD’s default anyway). They asked where the menus were and I pointed them to the menu browser, not one user asked how to get it back to the old way. I encourage everyone in my office to use the new features, Autodesk put them in for one reason or another. I also encourage users to set mbuttonpan to 1 so they can pan with their scroll wheel, why use the scroll wheel for osnaps when shift-right-click can do the same thing.

    There are several ways to do things, I dont dictate that they have to do it, and I’ve always been open to new and better ways. Why waste the screen space when you can hide the pull downs and access them in another way. If you need to see what I use for my screen check out this link:

    I dont encourage or even discuss with any users in my office to even think about switching to this format, I use the keyboard, I dont need a fancy user interface to work, the less on the screen the better, and I understand that not everyone is willing/capable to do things the same way.

  8. Tim English

    For “me” it is menubar=1, not that I use it that often but it is a bit like a security blanket. My preference is the left hand on keyboard right hand mouse for most commands (TAB key often used to get to longer command names). Following that option is equal parts toolbars and tool palattes. Then menubar for less frequent used commands. Ribbon is turned off.

    The idea that a Ribbon, that may (or may not), be suitable to MS Office applications be suitable to ACAD doesn’t sit well with me. The methodolgy of interaction with the different applications is vastly different. With MS Word you don’t start a command to enter text whereas in ACAD you will start a command to draw a line (or arc, circle etc) and then supply information via various methods ie mouse clicks or keyboard or both. To tie one appplication to the interface of another doesn’t make sense IMHO.

  9. Kevin

    I type very fast and don’t have much use for buttons, tabs, ribbon, ect. The main exception to that is when I am struggling to remember name of a less commonly used command. With that said I MUCH prefer to have words than Icons and I have reset my environment back to something more like 2008 was (including polar, ortho, osnap, ect). I do love the 2009 toolbars they are a little slimmer but hard to find the “x” on. I HATE the ribbon it is a massive waste of space that is cumbersome, but I only gave it a 48 hour chance before I declared it counterproductive. I think if they ever “succeed” in doing to the ribbon what they did to EVERYTHING else and allow you to control every aspect of its behavior and size… It would be kind of a nice dock for the 2nd monitor. My last thought on this is that if I had more time to REALLY set it up right (and it would take a long time) the ribbon might be okay.

    On a side notes I would have MUCH rather them implement some very powerful transparency settings on every single type of interface object than give us clean screen. Oh and the first time that view cube badly corrupted a viewport on me it took a hike as well. Although corrupted viewports seem to be a specialty of 2009 vs 2008 anyway. Maybe this is a new “feature” as well 🙂

    Honestly 2009 did not offer me much other than a dimmer client window (which is easier on the eyes), slimmer tool bars, spell checker, and the an “about to crash” warning that 80% of the time at least lets you save.

    Bottom line is I would prefer to have a copy of 2008 with the 2009’s “Oh Noooes I’m Dieing” message.

  10. Don Flynn

    Yes I use the menu bar.
    I have all my blocks for drawing architectural plans,
    elevations and electrical setup with short macros
    in the pull down menus. like the option of accessing with keystrokes or digitizer. 2009 has some nice features and I always like to see how they work
    but some really effect the performance and respond

  11. Anthony Baker

    I use the menu bar ALL the time and find it MUCH more convenient and quicker to use then the Ribbon. Actually I hate the ribbon and will never use it. First thing I did when the new AutoCAD 2009 arrived was figure out how to get my pull down menu’s back and was very frustrated until I got the pulldown’s back, Then everything was right with the world again 😉

  12. cc

    Having used AutoCAD since version 9. One of the things that annoys me the most is the constant fooling around with the interface. Button bars are only good if you can easily configure them. The ribbons are a tremendous waste of time and space. Drop down menus were the best add to AutoCAD ever (and yes I did use a version of AutoCAD once that had no drop down menus, just the sidebar menu and the command line). Through each ‘new’ release of AutoCAD, I find myself struggling more and more to keep the tools that I use in the locations that I have found to be most efficient and stripping out the crap that isn’t needed. A long time ago when I was leaning to draft by hand, a wise technician said to (and I paraphrase), “..always lay your pencil down in the same place. The same goes for your eraser, your scale, your triangles, etc. You should NEVER have to waste time searching for these. The more time spent distracted and searching, the less time you spend being productive.” AutoDesk should focus on fixing the problems that have always existed with AutoCAD instead of burning up money and good will designing new curtains to pretty up the user interface.

  13. Mike

    I’ve been using AutoCAD for a long time (V11), and have found that with the exception of V12, V14, and possibley V2007, 90% of the “productivity improvements” are eyewash. Autodesk keeps saying they are going to “really doooooooooooooo something about 3d this time”, and we end up with more eyewash and iPod window dressing. The CUI is the latest fiasco to screw things up. I’m writing this because I’ve known since V11 that there are very simple LISP routines that can be added (these have mostly been around since V1.1, and Autodesk KNOWS exactly which ones they are), that turn the plain vanilla AutoCAD into a very user friendly app (IF you don’t mind learning how to perform keyboard inputs and aren’t frozen in fear by not being able to use mac stuff (icon buttons)) and a blindingly FAST app to get your work done. I use the menu bar for commands that are used infrequently and that I don’t think require any fancy customizations such as hotkeys or LISP routines. I also agree with CC: Autodesk is wasting millions on window dressing and iPod crap when they should be addressing the KNOWN shortcommings of AutoCAD.

  14. S Lafleur

    I definitely use the Menubar! Classic AutoCAD Workspace, all the way, baby! (with some customization, of course) Ribbons? We don’t need no stinking ribbons! Now, if I could only get my Outlook, Excel & Word back to normal, so I could get work done instead of hunting and pecking all over the place, all would be right with the world. Alas, that isn’t a possibility. Thank-you Autodesk, for letting us ditch the “new & improved (?)” crap, should we so choose.

  15. Good day.

    My name is Johnny and i just got a small problem and i need your help if it is possible. i am using AutoCad 2009 and i just lost to pulldown menu just on top of my monitor. may you please help me to show me how i can reset it. thank you and i am await of your response.

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