Xerox Printers AutoCAD Transparency Update

Recently we had Xerox printers installed and we could not get the transparancy to play nice with the printer, printing a small strip up the side of the page. We have now found a solution to the problem and after installing PS drivers and changing the settings on the driver page under the PC3 we use to the settings noted below all works fine. Thank you to placidrefining for their solution, which can be found on the following page. Whilst they note that this works with a 7970 printer, we have found that it works with our model as well.


I have posted the images below from that post here for reference.





Nested XREFs and layer states

If you use a system of drawing sheet and drawing model in your practice where both are seperate files and the sheets are like a piece of paper with the drawing information pulled into it then this is something you might have come across already, if not then this might help you in the future if you encounter it.

So generally you will attach one or two external drawings to a sheet file and then adjust layers to suit in the sheet file. However occaisonally you will set up a drawing with an XREF, usually an overlay type of drawing (not to be confused with overlay type of XREF) where you have a base drawing and the layers are adjusted to be simplistic and then further information is drawn over the top, e.g. a fire drawing or drainage drawing.


This is where it gets complicated. There is now a chain of drawings. Drawing A (the base drawing) –> Drawing B (the overlay type of drawing) –> Drawing C (the plot drawing). [Note: the arrows indicate XREF attachements]. This chain of XREFs is called nesting.

The problem comes when you want Drawing C to look the same as drawing B does. When you attach Drawing B to C all the layers on drawing A change to when they were first attached to drawing B, all the changes in drawing B seem to be lost. But when you go back to drawing B it still looks as it should. Confused?

The problem is AutoCAD pulls in XREFs (external references) from their source files and not through the nesting. So any information for drawing A setup in drawing B will not be imported into C as drawing C as the information is directly pulled from drawing A.


In order to circumvent this annoying behaviour layer states export and load should be used. Or you just reset them up if its only a few changes, but if lots of colour changes and layer adjustments have been made then this is the method for you.

This is taken from this page: (Copyright AutoDesk).

To export layer settings

  1. At the command prompt, enter LAYER.
  2. In the Layer Properties Manager, click Layer States Manager.
  3. In the Layer States Manager, create a new layer state or select an existing one. Click Export.
  4. In the Export Layer State dialog box, enter a file name and specify a location for the file.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Click OK to close each dialog box.

To restore layer settings

  1. At the command prompt, enter Layer on the command line.
  2. In the Layer Properties Manager, click Layer States Manager.
  3. In the Layer States Manager, select a named layer state.
  4. Select the settings that you want to restore.
  5. Click Restore.
  6. Click OK

Now you should have the correct layer information in drawing C!

MTEXT Slow to Start

If you have decided to place all AutoCAD items in a central location and link each machine across the network to those locations by adding them to the “Support File Search Path” then this is for you!

I was experiencing really slow mtext editing, slow loading of options dialog and slow loading of the hatch editor. I did some digging and found very few solutions. Only one that caught my eye where the response was “Maybe that’s part of the problem. ” I thought, lets test that. I removed the network paths from the support path and voila! Everything is blisteringly fast again.

Next step, work out why the network bit is slow!

Blank drawing revisted

In my previous post, I mentioned that you could go back to the more traditional start up in AutoCAD by changing the STARTUP variable to 0. This does not however remove the New Tab if you close all drawings, in order to go to a blank AutoCAD when all drawings are closed, change NEWTABMODE to 0.


Pickfirst is on and objects just don’t select

Today I encountered a strange AutoCAD issue. At first it seemed to be the old pickfirst issue where if the variable is off you have to run the command then select, rather than the default behavior where you select and go.

The issue encountered today was similar but only seemed to happen on CTRL+C and mtext (MTEDIT). Otherwise all commands worked with select then run command.

After a bit of searching this error appears to be an issue with QAFLAGS. QAFLAGS is an undocumented system variable that appears to have no obvious use. It is problem an internal AutoDesk variable for testing. Though its strange behaviors can be used to assist in writing LISP and scripts!

QAFLAGS can be set to 1 or 2 apparently but the default should be 0. If it is not on 0 the strange semi-PICKFIRST=0 behavior will occur!


No layers information

One of my colleagues noted that they no longer could see the layers information in the Layers Drop down box when selecting objects.


The image above shows this issue, the object is on a differing layer to that shown, the Layers Drop down only shows the current layer.

In order to fix this the system variable PICKFIRST needs to be set to 1, which should be the default for this variable. Sometimes if AutoCAD crashes this seems to be reset to 0. Now when the object is selected it should display the layer information in the Layers Drop down.


No Thumbnails

One of my colleagues was struggling with files that did not have thumbnails. According to this (very helpful) post this is due to the THUMBSAVE setting not being set to 1.

This is a setting that is saved globally per machine but affects drawings. This can be confusing as there are global settings and drawing specific settings. Drawings saved on a machine with this off won’t create a thumbnail in the file.

Delete Key

One of my colleagues mysteriously could not use the delete key in AutoCAD. It worked fine in other programmes.

Generally this is seems to be due to a crash that resets certain variables (for some strange reason).

In this case the PICKFIRST variable was reset to 0. When PICKFIRST is at 0 it only allows objects to be selected after the command is initiated. The delete key does not initiate the ERASE command so the nothing happens when the delete key is pressed and PICKFIRST is set to 0, appearing to be broken.

If you set PICKFIRST to 1 then objects can be selected and an command initiated after this selection. The delete key then works as you expect it to do.

Hatching, select or pick?

In the ribbon hatch system, the default method is to have pick objects, however there is a way to change this, or even to get the old hatch dialogue back if you like that (I have got used to the new hatch ribbon but some still like the old hatch dialogue!)

The system variable HPDLGMODE is the one to change this.

This is the default behaviour of post 2010 AutoCAD. It uses the ribbon interface and pick point is default selection method.

This brings back the old hatch dialogue box if you want it.

This also uses the ribbon interface, however it uses the select objects as the default hatch selection method.

The setting out HPDLGMODE to 0 seems like a good option if you still use boundaries to create your hatch objects and whilst AutoCAD’s hatching system has definitely been refined it still can crash your session so this might be the best way forward until further refinements are made to the hatching system.

MTEXT Columns

I noticed today that a drawing I was working in had columns on by default in MTEXT. As there did not seem to be a way to turn this option off on the Ribbon and only an option to turn it off in the MTEXT editor once activated I had a root around for a setting (using the premise that AutoCAD has myriads of settings).

The setting to control MTEXT columns is strangely enough MTEXTCOLUMN. Set it to 0 to have no columns.