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Michael BeallMichael’s Corner #131
December/January 2014

Double Down

by Michael Beall

For those of you unable to make it to this year's main event—Autodesk University 2014—this month's offering includes a couple items from my AU Hands-On Lab, Click My Ride: Customizing Autodesk AutoCAD for How You Work. I'm really looking forward to showing the 86 registered attendees several of the features that have been presented in previous Corner articles on how to optimize AutoCAD for maximum productivity.

This edition will also usher in the new bi-monthly publication of Michael's Corner. There's a possibility I may be adding a couple other products to my "Training Menu" in the upcoming year, so I figured eleven years of four-articles-per-month would warrant a downshift in my Corner offerings. And although, I'm the one with his face on this page, Michael's Corner is ONLY possible because my tireless colleague, Professor David Watson (the chief cook & bottle-washer of, takes my lowly Word document and works his HTML magic to create the pages you see here.

So with that introduction, this edition brings you these AutoCAD productivity insights…

…How—and Why—to export a Zip file containing your AutoCAD settings
…Where to find the "Hide-A-Key" ACAD.CUIX file that AutoCAD already has saved for you
…The importance of creating a Workspace early on
…Easy Tab & Panel creation from my AU2014 Lab: Click My Ride

Wishing you all a glorious and joyful Christmas season and I hope your New Year is chockfull of exciting new adventures and opportunities!

If you would like to contact me directly, you can do that also.

Blessings to one and all,

Be Responsible: Think Ahead

Export settingsIt's a big planet, and Instructors and CAD Managers can't reach everyone at once, but Autodesk University is certainly a significant venue where we get some serious traction in that effort. For those Michael's Corner faithful, here's your fix.

Settings and Your ACAD.CUIX

When things go sideways with AutoCAD—not IF, but WHEN—it's really important that you have the proper backups in place.

Export AutoCAD Settings Before and After

StartAll ProgramsAutodesk >AutoCAD 201xMigrate Custom Settings

As soon as you have installed AutoCAD—and BEFORE you have tricked it out to look the way you want it—I would (highly) recommend you Export your settings [originally presented in Michael's Corner June 2007]. This procedure creates a Zip file automatically that you can then Import to another station or yours if you want to start all over.

It would be an even better idea to Export your settings AFTER you have configured all your variables, colors, Ribbon content, etc. Yes, a Profile can hold many of those settings, but if things go sideways, this is your best One-Stop-Shop.

Specifically, here are the files the exported .ZIP file contains:

This feature was also covered in my monthly contribution to AUGI World and appeared in the September 2013 issue.


The night before my AU2010 Hands-on Lab, I lost my Ribbon and Menus. I'm pretty sure I made a wrong turn while I was in the CUI, but regardless, AutoCAD was not coming up roses when I launched it. Cotton-mouth and tingling fingers ensued. Lee Ambrosius came to my rescue and dashed me a quick email telling me where to find the backup of the ACAD.CUIX. That file is the gas in the tank of AutoCAD. No ACAD.CUIX, no AutoCAD.

This location is where the backup lives:
C:\Program Files\Autodesk\AutoCAD 201x\UserDataCache\en-us\Support

The one that AutoCAD runs with daily is located in:
C:\Users\Your Login Name\AppData\Roaming\Autodesk\AutoCAD 201x\Rxx.x\enu\Support

Make a (BIG) note. If things get squirrely with your Ribbon and Menus, copy the one from the backup location and put it in the daily location. Back to work.

Workspaces in the Wings

A lower level recovery tool is your Workspace. Your fingers fly across the screen, and sometimes the (alarming) disappearance of the Ribbon or menu can be fixed by resetting your Workspace… if you had made one after you customized your Ribbon (or toolbar arrangement, for those of you still using Classic; you know who you are).

How to Create a Workspace

  1. After configuring the Tabs and Panels on the Ribbon, on the Status bar, click Save Current As.

    Save workspace
  2. Give the workspace a name, then click Save.

Gold starWorkspace labelGold star tip: To display the name of your workspace, click Workspace Switching, then click Display Workspace Label.

Bottom Line

You can never be too prepared for software slippage. In the last few weeks, there have been two instances where my customers were able to return to productivity very quickly because they had Exported their settings once they configured AutoCAD. And several times this year I was able to get my customer's Ribbon content back by having them select the Workspace we saved during training.

After reading this, hopefully you are going to the Start button to Export your settings—you will need to close AutoCAD before you do that, though—

and are confirming the presence of the backup ACAD.CUIX


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Power Tool

Easy Tab & Panel: Customizing the Ribbon

The Ribbon is initially intimidating, until you understand the mechanics behind the relationship of tabs & panels.

How to Create a New Tab on the Ribbon

  1. Adding a panelWith the desired workspace current, open the CUI.

  2. Navigate to Partial Customization FilesCUSTOM, then expand Ribbon.

  3. Under the Ribbon node, right-click on Tabs, then click New Tab and enter a name. In this exercise, I'm naming it AU13_TAB.

  4. Under the Ribbon node, right-click on Panels, then click New Panel and enter a name. In this exercise, my panel name is AU13_PANEL.

  5. Browse the WebTo add a command to your AU13_PANEL, in the Command list, navigate to Browse the Web, then drag it up and drop it next to Row 1, as shown in the figure at the right.

As you have probably noticed, Ribbon tools can have different display styles, and their content can also be customized.

How to Customize the Tool Appearance and Content

  1. Now click on Browse the Web on your panel to display the Properties. Set the following conditions:

    Web properties

    Note: The Macro should read: ^C^C_browser;

  2. Panel to tabCritical Step: To add your PANEL to your TAB, drag the AU13_PANEL, and drop it beside the AU13_TAB, as shown on the right.

    …but DON'T click OK yet!
    You have to associate the Tab to the Workspace…

How to Update the Workspace with the New Tab

  1. To add your AU13_TAB to the workspace, under the Workspaces node, click the name of the current workspace.

    You will now see the Workspace Contents area in the upper right quadrant of the CUI.

    Custom workspace
  2. Under Workspace Contents, click Customize Workspace and the text of the workspace elements turn blue.

  3. Check boxesNext, under Partial Customizations FilesCUSTOM, put a check in the Tabs box to enable the check boxes for Tabs and Panels. You then see the tab listed in Workspace Contents.

    Gold starGold star tip: Under Workspace Contents, you can drag your tab to any position.

  4. Under Workspace Contents, click Done, then click OK to apply and close the CUI… and check out your AU13_TAB!

    New tab

As a reminder, you will find a couple hundred(!) more AutoCAD tips and insights, along with dozens of customizing "How To" exercises in my book (Printed or PDF), The AutoCAD Workbench, 2nd Edition.

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Left Field

Autodesk Company Facts:
From the Newsroom page

  • 12+ million users of professional products
  • 145+ million users of consumer applications
  • 7,300 employees worldwide
  • Over 100 products in portfolio
  • Products are available in 17 languages
  • Over the past 18 years, all winners of the Academy Award® for Best Visual Effects in Film used Autodesk solutions
  • The Autodesk Education Community has over 6 million members, including students and teachers, who are eligible for free access to Autodesk software
  • Worldwide, Autodesk has:
    • 2,400+ Channel Partners
    • 3,900+ Autodesk Developer Network members
    • 2,000+ Autodesk Authorized Training Centers
    • 250+ user groups; 300,000 AUGI (Autodesk User Groups International) Members…

…and a Rockin' Annual Event in Las Vegas!

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