Start Me Up: AutoCAD Switches – Tuesday Tips With Frank

AutoCAD Startup Switches

Today’s post title takes inspiration from the classic Rolling Stones song. Some of us may remember how it was used it for an ad campaign back in the day to extol the virtues of the new Start button in Windows 95®.

But, if you’re of my ilk as a long time AutoCAD geek, you might think of the various startup switches that can control how AutoCAD launches from the desktop icon.

Yes. I need to get out more.

But back to the topic at hand. There are well over a dozen of these AutoCAD switches that you can add to the desktop icon’s “target” field. You can tell AutoCAD to use a particular profile when it starts. You can specify a Sheet Set or a Template to start with. Maybe you want to run a particular Script—you can do that, too!

Today I’ll be covering these and some other commonly used switches. You can see the entire list of these switches here: AKN Command Line Switch Reference.

Command Line Switch References

First Things First

First, you need to know how to edit your program launch icon. Right-click the AutoCAD desktop icon and choose Properties. You’ll see various tabs at the top of the Properties box. Click on the Shortcut tab.

Now you’re ready to edit. Click within the Target field. By default, this entire field consists of three parts. The first part is a string that points to the location of the AutoCAD executable. After that, there are two switches. One is the product, and the second is the language.

At this point, I’ve seen users feel a bit queasy about editing such things. Take a deep breath and don’t worry, just… and I’ll just emphasize the text here… don’t edit any of the three original entries!

The safest bet is to click the End button on your keyboard after you’ve clicked within the field. That will place the mouse position past the original entries. Add a space (properties must be separated by a space), then the switch you want to use, along with any parameters after it. Click OK when you’re done.

Also, please note that the slash goes forward, and any text parameter is enclosed in double quotes.

What Can I Do?

Do you have various profiles that you use in your daily work? Many of us do. By adding the /p switch, you can set up multiple icons that will start AutoCAD with your preferred profile.

Startup Switches /p

Maybe your workflow isn’t profile based, but instead it’s dependent on Sheet Sets. No problem… again create as many icons as you need and specify your Sheet Set using the /set switch in each.

Conversely, if you don’t want to see the Sheet Set Palette, use /nossm to suppress it.

The same theory applies to Templates. Just use the /t switch. I’ve seen companies use various scripts to set parameters at startup. That switch is /b (not /s… that is taken by the support folders function, plus it stands for batch processing. It’s not too common anymore, but back in the old days, it was used all the time).

Maybe you use various Workspaces instead. You’re in luck too, use the /w switch to specify the one you want to start with.

I’d say all those (and others) would be considered productivity enhancers—and who’s not in favor of that? But there are also some switches that can be used in diagnosing problems.

It’s not uncommon for users to have stability issues with non-certified graphics cards. A typical starting point is to turn off Hardware Acceleration to see if that helps. When it does, you can enforce it by using the /nohardware switch.

No Hardware AutoCAD Switch

You can even launch AutoCAD and prevent all executable files from loading and running with the /safemode switch. (Please consider the caveats with this one as defined in the switch reference AKN page.)

Finally, a favorite of mine. Make AutoCAD load just a bit faster by bypassing the logo screen at startup by adding the /nologo switch. Your mileage may vary, but for me, on a workstation class laptop, I save 3-4 seconds when starting AutoCAD 2022.

Summing Up

This post was based on the Windows version of AutoCAD. The Mac version has its own set of AutoCAD switches. When making these changes, you’ll want to refer to the proper reference page. The AKN page in this link is the perfect starting point.

So, for whatever product or operating system you use, AutoCAD gives you some options for how it launches. I hope you check them out for yourself. Maybe you can find something that will improve your daily workflow.

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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