AutoCAD 2010 – Will you miss the Menu Browser?

AutoCAD 2010 – Will you miss the Menu Browser?

I’ve closed the poll that asked AutoCAD 2009 users about their MENUBAR setting. It’s very clear that pull-down menus are still very much in use in the Ribboned world of post-2008 AutoCAD. In AutoCAD 2009, an attempt was made to provide access to pull-down menus without sacrificing that strip of screen real estate. That attempt was called the Menu Browser, it was one of the thing you could find under the Big Red A, and it really didn’t work very well. In AutoCAD 2010, the Menu Browser has gone away. The A hasn’t gone away, just the ability to access pull-down menus through it.

There are some who have expressed a deep dislike of the Big Red A, although it never offended me greatly. I just wished the features hidden under it worked better than they did in 2009. Personally, I generally prefer what’s under the A in 2010 than what’s there in 2009, but you may not. I know that when the 2009 user interface was being attacked, its most prominent defenders were those keyboard-heavy users who turned both the Ribbon and the menu bar off, giving themselves more screen space. On the infrequent occasions when a pull-down menu was required, those people were content to provide an extra click.

When I found out about the Menu Browser’s death a few months ago, I expected there would be a severe adverse reaction from such people. Maybe there will be one when people hold get the shipping product and notice it’s gone. But after my poll showed only 7% of respondents used it instead of the menu bar, I’m now expecting that adverse reaction to be smaller than I originally thought.

If you want to use AutoCAD 2010, want to work without a menu bar but still have access to menu items occasionally, what can you do? You can add a button to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT), or any other toolbar, that toggles the menu bar on and off. Use the CUI command to add such a button.* The following macro will do the job:

'menubar $M=$(-,1,$(getvar,menubar))

There are a couple of downsides to this method. First, although this macro has been written in such a way that it should be transparent, it doesn’t currently work that way. When you push the button, AutoCAD will still cancel any command you’re in. Second, the screen resize forces a redraw, which could slow you down in very complex drawings. However, under most circumstances that redraw will still be quicker than waiting for a reaction from AutoCAD the first time you pick the Big Red A. By the way, that reaction time is better in 2010 than the very tardy 2009. As a result, even AutoCAD 2009 users might prefer to use the QAT-button method and forget the Menu Browser ever existed.

* If there is enough interest, I will do a video tutorial explaining how to add such a button to the QAT.


  1. Chris Cowgill

    The only reason I have used the menu browser is for my company custom routines and for the express tools. As AutoCAD 2010 is shipping with an express ribbon tab, and I have created a ribbon for our custom office tools, I no longer require the functionality of the menu browser. When the ribbon is anchored to the left, it does not take up any more screen space than the palettes I already have anchored to the left, and therefore is a compromise that I am satisfied with. Besides, when the ribbon is anchored, the big A becomes a small A: more screen space all around.

  2. Sam West

    Architecture 2009 & 2010 Ribbon

    Having started with typed commands and progressed (25 years) to having over a hundred shortcut icons reflects some recognition of the value of reducing the time it takes to execute a command. I believe CAD was created to reduce the amount of time required to create a drawing.

    A short analysis concludes that a $1,000 per month operating cost add on, caused by the additional input time required, is not out of the question. If you have not considered this in its full effect. Over a time span of ten years this is $120,000. Every single user who depends on executing an action as fast as possible need to run their own analysis.

    The commands need to be executed faster, not a Microsoft marketing directors version of a “cool” GUI.

  3. bring back 2007

    I HATED 2008 and have an even greater hate for 2010. I wish there was a mod out there that would destroy the 2010 GUI completely and restore it to the sane 2007 layout. I want to slap the face of whatever marketing moron sold them on the rip off of M$ ribbon interface. “it’ll look cool! It’ll be more productive.” Yea right, Mr. Snake Oil salesman, you’ve never touched autocad in your life and drew this junk up on a napkin. Now I’m forced to learn a new GUI that I hate on top of having to go through all the extra steps it forces me to take. What’s next in 2012? 3D interface with googgles?

  4. Ronald Cajelais

    @bring back 2007

    God i miss r14…

    I’m right with you for the sh..y Ribbons: who needed that crap?
    I did turned them off and brang back the MENUBAR but still: it’s a nightmare to customize any good old button.

  5. Stephen Chapman

    Strangley enough… I find myself missing the dropdown menu from 2009. I operate with the ribon turned off and use keyboard commands and the big red A dropdown. I actually came here looking for a way to enable it in 2010!!

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