Edit: If you’re running a more recent release of AutoCAD, have a look at the post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal” instead.
Easily the most popular post on this blog, in terms of both hits and comments, is AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”. Lots of people seemed to find it useful, so I guess it’s worth doing an updated sequel for the current release. Much of this post is the same as the original, but there are differences.
One thing that’s regularly asked whenever a new AutoCAD release hits the streets is how to make it work like earlier releases. As I stated in my original post, I think you should give any new features a fighting chance before turning them off or ignoring them. The 2010 Ribbon is still a Ribbon, but in my view it’s a better one than in 2009. But it’s entirely your choice. We should be grateful that in AutoCAD 2010 at least (unlike Revit 2010), you do still have that choice.
Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to put your environment back to AutoCAD 2008 or earlier; how do you do it?
- Workspace. In vanilla AutoCAD, you can restore much of the user interface by just switching 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. If you’re using a vertical variant of AutoCAD 2010, this workspace may not be available. If so, or if you want finer control over your interface, read on.
- Pull-down Menus. Enter MENUBAR 1 to turn pull-down menus on. To turn them off again, enter MENUBAR 0.
- Toolbars. In AutoCAD 2009, you could turn individual toolbars on and off by accessing a menu obtained by right-clicking on the QAT. Autodesk (vindictively?) removed that option in 2010. That menu is still available if you right-click in an unused docked toolbar area, but if you have no toolbars visible there will be no such area available. What to do? Turn on one toolbar at the Command prompt, then you will be able to access the menu by right-clicking on the blank area to the right of it. The following command sequence will do it:
_.-TOOLBAR ACAD.Standard _Top 0,0
Note that this will only work if you have the acad.cuix file loaded (or partially loaded). This is the case in vanilla AutoCAD and some verticals (e.g. AutoCAD Civil 3D), but it may not be the case in other verticals (e.g. AutoCAD Architecture).
- Ribbon. You can close the Ribbon with the RibbonClose command. If you ever want to turn it back on, enter Ribbon.
- Dashboard. The AutoCAD 2007/8 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 Riboon 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.
- Graphic Background. Despite Autodesk thinking it’s a good idea to hide all the yellow lines in your drawings by giving you a creamy drawing area, many of you will want a black background. To do this, right-click on the drawing area and pick Options… (or just enter OP), 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 with its white paper space. If you want a black paper space, you’ll have to specify that individually. 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. There is also a system variable LAYERDLGMODE, which when set to 0 will make the Layer command work in the old and faster modal way. If you use this setting, you can still access the new modeless layer palette with the LayerPalette command. Going back further, there are command-line methods of these commands: -Layer, -Xref, XAttach, -Image and ImageAttach.
If you have 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. Once you’re happy with your new environment, I suggest you save your workspace under a name of your choosing (Save Current As… under the gearwheel button), then export your profile in the Options command’s Profiles tab.