Tip: Customizing the AutoCAD Ribbon

Posted on June 8, 2017 by Synergis Applications Consultant, Jim Swain

Recently I’ve been asked by several customers how they can tweak their ribbons. These folks are coming from the AutoCAD Classic workspace, and want to make to make the ribbons show their frequently used commands. It is definitely possible to customize the Ribbon, but there are a couple of twists that you have to keep in mind.

I will go through this in two parts. First, I will create my own panels and Home ribbon tab. Then I will make it so AutoCAD uses my tab instead of the default one.

So let’s get started:

Number 1 Rule of Customizing – Back up your original file first!!!

  1. Go to the Options dialog box, and check where your main customization file is located:
  2. Make a backup copy of the acad.cuix file so that if things go horribly wrong you can get back to a working version. I rename mine to original ACAD.cuix and leave it in the same folder for now.
  3. Start the Customize User Interface command. I do this by typing CUI at the command line, but there are other ways to fire up this command. It is AutoCAD after all. Notice that my dialog box is expanded. Yours should be expanded as well. There is an arrow button on the bottom right corner of the dialog box that expand it.
  4. Now expand the Ribbon node in the upper right portion of the dialog box.   
  1. Create a duplicate of the existing Home – 2D tab by right-click on the existing tab and taking the Duplicate choice. (Remember Rule 1!)

I like renaming my copies to have my initials as the lead for the name. That helps me to find my stuff easily. You’ll see why soon.

  1. Create a duplicate of the existing Home 2D – Modify panel. Again I rename the panel with my initials as a general practice.
  1. This new panel is automatically brought to the end of the list of existing panels. Drag it up to the top of the panel list to make it easier to find.
  2. Here is the full definition of the duplicate panel. Change the display name of the panel in the Properties area in the lower right. Again, I like to use my initials in the name.
  3. Now let’s look at tweaking the commands shown in this panel. Here again is the existing panel:

Row 1 consists of 4 sub-panels. Row 1 is also what you normally see on the screen. The sub-panels are the vertical columns, starting with: Move, Rotate, Trim, and Erase. Tools on the first 3 sub-panels are being shown with small icons, and text shown next to the icon. The third sub-panel is showing some drop down tools, such as Trim/Extend.

I am going to stay with very simple changes today, just swapping out some tools for other existing ones. For my purposes I am going to move the Array tools to Row 2 and put the Align tool in its place. Any existing tool could be dragged up from the Command List, and place in the panel as well.

  1. Drag the Align tool up to just in front of the Array tool and drag the Array tool down to the first spot in Row 2.

  1. I also changed the properties of the Align tool to display as a small icon with text.

Now to get this new panel to display in place of the existing one.

  1. Expand the duplicate tab, and Remove the old panel.
  2. Drag the new panel up to its place. This will take some scrolling. Be careful and drop the panel in the correct tab!
  3. I click the Apply button at this point. It’s kind of like making copies of everything. I’ve been bitten here before.
  4. Now I go and duplicate the current Workspace. (And rename it, of course.)

Now comes the part that doesn’t quite fit the pattern we’ve got going.

  1. Customize the new workspace.

Now if you scroll down you will see which ribbon tabs are currently available to the workspace.

  1. Expand the Ribbon Tabs node in the Workspace Contents upper right part of the dialog box. Notice that the new panel isn’t listed here. Hmmm…

And it is showing up at the end of the new ribbon.

To be honest here, I am not quite sure what is going on. But I have found that after a reboot (not just restarting AutoCAD) that everything appears as expected:

Though note that the name of the modified panel isn’t showing. More mysteries, though I expect that with my normal luck someone will immediately post the incredibly simple answer. Go for it!!!

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