In a previous post, I described how you can maximize your drawing are by anchoring and auto-hiding your palette windows (Tool palettes, Properties, Sheet Set Manager, External References, etc). In that post, I briefly mentioned that these anchored and hidden palettes can also include the command window.
For most AutoCAD users, hiding the Command window is a crazy and scary thought! I know it was for me! For years I had been trained (and trained many others) to “look at the command line!” However, after Dynamic Input was introduced in AutoCAD 2006, it was no longer necessary to look at the command line. At first, the dynamic input functionality may seem annoying, especially to you veteran users because you aren’t used to see all that “stuff” at the cursor. You might have turned off dynamic input and forgot it existed. No worries! Dynamic input is easy to renable AND using it can save a significant amount of screen space!
Whether you use Dynamic Input or not, command information is always displayed at the Command line. If the DYN (Dynamic Input) toggle (on the status bar) is enabled, command information is also displayed at the cursor.
By default, you can respond to the dynamic input prompt in the same way you would respond to the command window. For example, when drawing a line, you can enter the coordinate values as x,y. However, using DYN, you have even more flexibility. You can press the Tab key to cycle between values. For example you can cycle to the y-coordinate, enabling you to enter and automatically lock in that value before entering or picking a value for x.
Dynamic Input offers a variety of controls that enable you to customize its behavior and appearance. If you right-click over the DYN toggle on the status bar, you can choose Settings to access the Dynamic Input tab of the Drafting Settings dialog box. On this tab, you can specify if you want DYN behavior to include Pointer Input, Dimension Input, and/or Prompts. In addition you can specify the appearance of the drafting tooltip.
Pointer Input refers to the values that you enter or pick in response to a command prompt. You can control their format and visibility using the Pointer Input Settings dialog box.
Dimension Input displays the distance and angle values when a command prompts for a second point or when you grip-edit an existing object. When both Pointer Input and Dimension Input are enabled, Dimension Input supersedes Pointer Input. The first image shows the tooltip for entering the second point of a line when only Pointer Input is enabled. The second image shows the tooltips when both Pointer Input and Dimension Input are enabled.
You can control the visibility of Dimension Input for grip editing using the Dimension Input Settings dialog box.
The default option displays only two dimension input fields at a time (distance and angle or two distance values). However you can specify additional dimension input fields.
On the Dynamic Input tab, the Dynamic Prompts option enables you to launch a command by typing at the cursor and to display the command prompts at the cursor. For example, when this option is enabled, if you type “L” or “LINE” to launch the Line command, you will see that text at the cursor as you type… just like you see it at the command line. After you press Enter to launch the command, AutoCAD displays the command prompt at the cursor in addition to the Pointer Input values.
Note that, while it is possible to select Dynamic Promts without enabling Pointer or Dimension Input, the results may not be as you expect. For the best behavior and most efficient functionality, I suggest enabling all three options: Pointer Input, Dimension Input, and Dynamic Prompts.
Tooltip Appearance enables you to control the color, size and transparency of the tool tips that appear at the cursor when DYN is enabled.
So, after all of this talk about Dynamic Input, what does it have to do with maximizing your workspace? If you can enter commands, read prompts and enter values at the cursor using dynamic input, why do you need to the command line? If you don’t need to look at the command line, why is it taking up so much room on your display? Just to be clear, I don’t suggest that you completely disable the command line. There are some instances where the dynamic input tooltip doesn’t display as much information as you might need. I like to have my command window rolled up (autohide) and anchored along the side with my other palettes (see Maximizing your Workspace 101). This way it is easily accessible on those rare occasions that I need it. However, I can work 99% of the time using only dynamic input. And look how much of my drawing space I have reclaimed
After years of learning to “look at the command line” it can take a few weeks to retrain yourself NOT to look for the command line. It might feel awkward at first but if you give it a chance, you’ll save drawing space AND you’ll work more efficiently because your eyes (and attention) will remain focused near the cursor!