Using Additional Layer Tools in AutoCAD

To organize the objects in a drawing, you often need to create and work with layers in the AutoCAD software. The commonly used layer tools are those that enable you to change the layer state such as freeze/thaw, toggle on/off, and lock/unlock. Did you know that AutoCAD provides you with many other additional layer commands that enable you to select layers rather than select their names and can help you perform additional actions other than just changing their layer state? In this blog, I will demonstrate some additional layer commands:  

Isolating Layers 

(Layer Isolate) is similar to changing the layer state, but it locks and fades (or turns off) all of the objects in a drawing EXCEPT those that are on the layers that you selected to isolate. This tool comes in handy when you want to work on specific objects and don’t want to get distracted by other objects in the drawing. Once you have finished working with the objects on the isolated layers, you can then return them to their original layer state using the (Layer Unisolate) command. 

Some important points to consider while working with the Isolate Layer tool: 

  • If you only select one layer to isolate and it is not the current layer, it becomes the current layer. 

  • The layers that are not selected to be isolated are either locked and faded or toggled off. You can always select the behavior of your choice by starting the Layer Isolate command, and selecting Settings, and then selecting the required option. 


  • When you select Off, you will be prompted to set the way it works in Paper Space viewports. The Vpfreeze option freezes the unisolated layers in the active viewport, and the Off option turns the unisolated layers off in all the viewports. 

Modifying Layers 

If you would want to move all of the objects on selected layers to a target layer, you can do that easily by using the (Layer Merge) tool. It moves all the objects from one layer to another and then automatically purges the empty layer.  

Another tool that works similar to the Layer Merge tool is the (Layer Delete) tool. This tool will remove a layer and any objects associated with that layer. 

Some points to keep in mind while using the Layer Merge and Layer Delete tools: 

  • The response to the final prompt of Do you wish to continue? for each of these commands opens a warning dialog box with the default option for the prompt selected as No. You must specify Yes to complete the process. 

  • If blocks are associated with the layer, they are redefined with objects from the deleted layer. 

Layer Translator  

Similar to the Layer Merge command is the (Layer Translator) (Laytrans command). This command also lets you move all the elements on a selected layer to another new layer with the difference that you have to first create a new layer to where you want to move the objects. It can be done in the Layer Translator dialog box where you first create a new layer and then simply select the other layer from where you want to move the objects. This command then automatically purges the empty layer. 



Layer Walk  

Another great Layer tool is the (Layer Walk) command which provides you with an interface in which you can quickly display objects on specific layers and then modify them. This command can also be used when you want to find out which layers the objects display on and then use other commands to move them to the correct layer. 


The following steps will show you how to use the Layer Walk tool: 

  • You can either select from the list of layer names in the LayerWalk dialog box or use  
    (Select Objects) to select objects in the drawing window. 

  • You can either use <Ctrl> and <Shift> or drag to select multiple layers. 

  • Double-click on the name if you want a layer to always be displayed. An asterisk displays next to the name. You can also right-click and select Hold Selection. You can release the layers on hold, individually or as a group, by right-clicking and selecting Release Selection and Release All

  • If a layer does not contain any objects, you can click Purge to remove it from the drawing. 

  • When you have finished working in the dialog box, you can display the layer setup in your drawing if you clear the Restore on exit option. If it is selected, the modifications you made in the dialog box are not displayed in the drawing window. 


I hope that you will find the additional Layer tools handy. To better understand the working of these commands, I have provided a fully detailed section along with a hands-on practice in Chapter 21 Working Effectively with AutoCAD of the AutoCAD 2023 Fundamentals learning guide. 

About the Author

Renu Muthoo

Learning Content Developer<br><br>Renu has worked with Autodesk products for the past 20 years with a main focus on design visualization software. Renu holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and started her career as an Instructional Designer/Author where she co-authored a number of Autodesk 3ds Max and AutoCAD books, some of which were translated into other languages for a wide audience reach. In her next role as a Technical Specialist at a 3D visualization company, Renu used 3ds Max in real-world scenarios on a daily basis. There, she developed customized 3D web planner solutions to create specialized 3D models with photorealistic texturing and lighting to produce high quality renderings.

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