AutoCAD may not be the newest piece of drafting software on the block (I’ve heard it referred to as “advanced paint”*), but there are many companies still using it. I no longer use AutoCAD at my place of employment, but somewhere or other I picked up these little-known techniques that seem to have no practical use besides playing tricks on people. It should be noted that most of these ideas will work with Draftsight – basically a free version of AutoCAD (see my review of Draftsight).
1 – Turn “Snap” on – Just hit “F9” and the cursor will start to jump from point to point. Annoying, but easy to figure out. May actually have some practical use (and more well-known than the others).
2 – Mbuttonpan – Type this command in to set whether or not the middle mouse button causes the screen to pan around. Type “0” – off – after you enter the command, and you’ll have a situation that will very much annoy your colleague that left his or her computer unlocked.
3 – Zoomfactor – Type this in and it will give you a dialog box asking what the zoomfactor is. It should be 60 by default. Set it as low as you can (1 doesn’t work) and you’ll have a similar effect to the “mbuttonpan” command.
4 – Bury hidden messages – AutoCAD allows you to zoom in on drawings extremely far. So far, in fact that only a dot can be seen from a normal view if you were to draw or write something. If that dot is the correct distance from a nearby line, one shouldn’t even be able to see it normally. It needs to be close, but too close and it will produce a gap, creating something that can be noticed.
Done correctly, one could theoretically leave his mark on a company without being detected. If some small ATHF Mooninite drawings (see this ERR Mosaic) are ever found deep within a plant master layout on the Moon, I wouldn’t be that surprised.
5 – Make lines white and they will print as black when printed monochrome. I can’t personally verify this one as I no longer have the software, but I’ve been told that this can be done. The chances are probably reasonably high of getting caught doing this, but the title of this article isn’t “Things you can do in AutoCAD and not Get Fired For.”
There’s quite a few other techniques in ACAD that you can use, including the fact that many versions have support for either Visual Basic or the .Net framework so you can literally program it to do whatever you want. This is beyond my knowledge, but probably interesting to a programmer.
I don’t recommend any of these techniques, especially not the fourth one (at least not for malicious use). As with all my articles, read what they say, but how you use the information is up to you.
*Just so there’s no misconception, AutoCAD is a great piece of software for layout drawings and other 2D functions. There are much better tools for 3D work, but the “advanced Paint” comment was made by a co-op. Also, I use Paint quite a bit for screen captures, so it’s not like it’s useless either.