Among the new features and capabilities in the newest version of AutoCAD, the powerful new Block Palettes in AutoCAD 2020 have been one of the largest crowd pleasers! We insert blocks all the time – and yet the standard INSERT command doesn’t make it easy to visually grab and place them in your drawing. Brace yourself here – the old INSERT dialog has been replaced with the new friendly Block Palette. Not only is it easier to visually select and place your blocks in your drawing (similar to the ribbon gallery) but it has a couple of additional features you won’t want to live without!
Note: If you are hyperventilating right now and want your old INSERT dialog back – you can still get to it via the CLASSICINSERT command (so no need to panic).
Accessing Block Palettes
How do you get to the new Block Palettes? If you key in “I” from the command line (for INSERT) or if you select “Recent Blocks” or “Blocks from Other Drawings” from the Ribbon you will find yourself face to face with the Block Palette as seen in Figure 1. The option you select from the Ribbon will determine the tab the Block Palette opens to.
Figure 1: Access the new Block Palette from the Insert tab on the ribbon.
There are three tabs on the new Block Palette: Current Drawing, Recent and Other Drawing as seen in figure 2. You can view all the blocks from the current drawing, recently used blocks (which persists between drawings and sessions) as well as indicate a different drawing you would like to access blocks from.
Figure 2: The new Block Palette has 3 tabs.
Using Block Palettes
Each block tab has a filter which uses wildcards (that’s right…wildcards!) Do you remember your wildcards? At the risk of writing an entire article on wildcards – the most important one is the asterisk * – which means multiple character possibilities. If I wanted to display all the blocks that started with the letter C…I would indicate by writing “C*” in the filter box as seen in figure 3. If I wanted to display all the blocks that end in the letter C – I would write “*C” in the filter box.
Figure 3: Use wildcards to quickly find blocks from long lists.
Control the display of the blocks by clicking on the arrow in the upper right corner of the palette as seen in figure 4. Do you want icons or a speedy list? Details will also tell you if the block is annotative, dynamic or neither (which could be useful information).
Figure 4: You can choose to display the blocks in many different ways.
The standard block placement options of insertion point, rotation angle and scale factor can be found in the palette. If Rotation is checked – you will be able to manually rotate the block upon insertion.
The winning option, however, is that fabulous “Repeat Placement” option! Now you can insert multiple instances of a block with the same settings quickly and easily! This feature is a long time coming.
You will also find the dreaded “Explode” option upfront and center. I can already hear you CAD Managers shuddering. You will also see that when you right click on any block, you can easily explode it while inserting as seen in figure 5. My apologies to all CAD Managers.
Figure 5 – A right click on any block allows you to Insert or Insert and Explode.
Inserting the blocks is simply a matter of drag and drop. Select the block you want to insert and drag it into place. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
The Recent tab is where you will probably find your most frequently used blocks. You can remove a block from the Recent tab by right clicking and selecting “Remove from Recent List” as seen in figure 6 (for you control freaks). You can also use the system variable BLOCKMRULIST to control the maximum number of blocks the Recent tab displays (you might not want that list to get TOO long!) The default setting is 50 with a max of 100.
Figure 6: Right click on any block on the Recent tab to remove from the list.
Other Drawing Tab
Perhaps you would like to access blocks from a different drawing? No problem! Choose the Other Drawing tab and click on the ellipses in the upper right corner of the drawing to navigate to the desired drawing file as seen in figure 7. The Block Palette will self-populate with the blocks from that other drawing for easy access.
Figure 7: Right click on the ellipses to choose a drawing for the Other Drawing tab.
For you super techies who are concerned about your script files not working now – you will be happy to know that script files will still run the legacy INSERT command. And of course you can still run the command line version of the INSERT command with -INSERT.
And if you are wondering if Design Center has been discarded to make way for the new Block Palettes – not to worry! It is still available to use if you prefer to take that route. This is just one more valuable tool to add to your AutoCAD arsenal. And it is a great tool so be sure to give it a try!