What’s New in the AutoCAD® 2021 Fundamentals Learning Guide

May 19, 2020 Renu Muthoo

I am excited to tell you about the AutoCAD® 2021 Fundamentals learning guide that is now available from ASCENT. This year, we focused on making the content more precise and effective while incorporating the new features and enhancements for the 2021 version of the AutoCAD software. I also gave a webcast about the new features in AutoCAD 2021; thank you to those of you who attended it. We have posted the recording on the ASCENT YouTube channel on the following link: New in AutoCAD 2021 webcast

This year’s changes include:

  • The Quick Measure tool has been enhanced to include the area and perimeter.
  • The Trim and Extend commands have been completely revamped.
  • The Blocks Palette has been modified.
  • A new Xref Compare command has been introduced.

The Quick Measure tool provides you with multiple measurements in real-time. In addition to displaying the dimensions, distances, and angles within a single command, the command now reports the area and perimeter of a closed area. As you hover the cursor around a group of objects, all the appropriate measurements are displayed. When you click inside a closed area, it is highlighted in green with the area and perimeter displayed near the cursor. You can also hold the Shift key and click in multiple closed areas to display the cumulative area and perimeter. This tool has been added to the learning guide along with the rest of the measuring commands in Chapter 9: Analyzing Model and Object Properties.

Quick area

The process of trimming and extending objects has been changed in the AutoCAD 2021 software. Both the Trim and Extend commands have become intelligent commands. Once you invoke either command and hover your cursor over objects, the software automatically detects potential cutting edges or boundary edges. By default, the commands provide three different options for trimming or extending:

  • Individual selection: The objects can be trimmed or extended by selecting them individually.

Trim 2

  • Freehand selection: Holding down the left-mouse button and then dragging over multiple objects or portions of objects trims or extends those objects in a single step.


  • Two-point fence selection: Clicking two points to create a segment that passes through the multiple objects that are to be trimmed/extended.


The Blocks Palette provides a convenient location from where you can locate and insert blocks and drawings into the current drawing. The Blocks Palette can be accessed through the View tab>Palettes panel or by clicking Recent Blocks/Blocks from Libraries from the Insert Blocks gallery. The Blocks Palette has three tabs that provide you with all the blocks that are in the current drawing, all the blocks that were inserted recently, and the drawings that were inserted as blocks. Through the Libraries tab, you can now get a number of drawings as blocks into your Blocks Palette at once by selecting a folder that contains all of the drawings. The content and practices of Chapter 12: Blocks have been updated to incorporate the working of the new Blocks Palette.


A new Xref Compare tool has been introduced in AutoCAD 2021. When a drawing that is referenced in another drawing is modified, you can see the differences between the two versions of the drawing using the Xref Compare command. If the host drawing is open and the externally referenced drawing is changed, you are alerted by a balloon. You can click on the link in this balloon to compare the drawings or you can start the comparison from the right-click menu.


In compare

  • Once you start the Xref Compare command, the host drawing is in Compare mode indicated by being enclosed in a blue border and the Xref Compare toolbar is displayed. The differences are enclosed in a revision cloud.
  • The Xref Compare toolbar allows you to toggle various display options, change the shape and color of the revision cloud, and zoom to the previous and next comparison.

Compare toolbar

These are some of the changes in the AutoCAD 2021 software that are incorporated in the AutoCAD 2021 Fundamentals learning guide. The learning guide is sure to keep your teaching/learning experience up to date and relevant to the current software.

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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