Floating Windows: Tuesday Tips With Frank

AutoCAD Floating Windows Feature

One of the most popular new features that was introduced in AutoCAD 2022 (and improved upon in 2023), is being able to pull your file tab off the main interface, creating a separate floating window.

If the benefit of a floating window isn’t immediately apparent to you, let me explain how it can help you with your workflow.

Have you ever had to work on one drawing while referencing another? More than likely you have. I once worked on a team at an AEC firm that was responsible for maintaining and creating prototype drawings. We were constantly copying parts and pieces of an existing drawing into the new one we were creating. It was an absolute must to be able to see them both at the same time.

Our solution (at the time) was to start another session of AutoCAD to view the second drawing. It wasn’t a great solution, but we absolutely had to have both drawings open and visible at the same time. Perhaps your workflow has dictated a similar situation as well.

Fast forward to the addition of floating windows for AutoCAD. Just click, hold, and drag the File Tab to pull the window off the main application. You can put it on a second monitor (or float another drawing onto yet another monitor!). Or, if you prefer, you can tile them on the same monitor or let them overlap.

Floating Windows Example

If you do choose to have your drawing windows overlap, the active drawing window will display on top.

You can also pin a drawing window to a location. A pinned drawing window remains on top of the main AutoCAD application window.

And don’t worry about losing any functionality. The floating window has its own Command Line, and you can still use the Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar from the main application while in your active floating window.

When you want to return your floating window back to the main application, you can just use the title bar to drag it back to the file tabs area, or if you prefer, you can right-click the title bar, where you’ll find commands to either move it back or to pin it (there’s a Pin button next to the drawing title as well).

Move Pin Floating Windows in AutoCAD

One last thing, as you might expect, there’s a new System Variable for you to be aware of. The SYSFLOATING variable controls the dock state of the drawing file tabs. I bring this up because I’m sure some of you out there will accidentally float their windows, or maybe you just want to disable it altogether. Setting SYSFLOATING to -1 will disable the feature (otherwise 0 is default and indicates your drawings are docked in the main app, and 1 is when you have windows floating).

That’s it! Short and sweet, but what a productivity enhancement this is. No more CTRL-Tabbing to switch drawing tabs back and forth, and no more consuming valuable computer resources for multiple instances of AutoCAD. If you haven’t done so, give floating windows a try. I think it will soon be one of your favorite features.

More Tuesday Tips

Check out our whole Tuesday Tips series for ideas on how to make AutoCAD work for you. Do you have any favorite AutoCAD tips? Tell us in the comments!

Frank Mayfield

Frank has worked in various design and CAD Management roles with AutoCAD and Autodesk software since 1986 (v2.62). He is currently a Design Technology Consultant in Tulsa, OK. He also serves as Vice President on the AUGI Board of Directors and is a member of numerous Autodesk user panels. As a top-rated mentor for trial users of AutoCAD 2018 and AutoCAD LT 2018, he has provided live, real-time guidance and support for over 2,500 new users in more than 50 countries worldwide. He currently serves on the AUGI Board of Directors and is a member of numerous Autodesk user panels.

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