Using the DesignCenter in AutoCAD

While working in AutoCAD, it is quite common to take named objects like layers, blocks, layouts, and styles from one drawing and use them in another drawing. Conventionally, you open the required drawings and then copy/paste the items containing these named objects into your current drawing. There is, however, a better way of performing this task by using a not so well-known repository of drawings, blocks, hatches, etc. called the DesignCenter. The DesignCenter enables you to organize the drawing content in a useful order so that it is easily and readily accessible. In this blog, we will explore how to access named objects in any drawing or insert blocks from one drawing into another using the DesignCenter. The figure below shows you the DesignCenter palette. 

A screenshot of a computer

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  • You can find the  (DesignCenter) tool tucked away in the View tab>Palettes panel. I usually use <Ctrl>+<2> to toggle the DesignCenter on or off.  

  • The DesignCenter is a palette and can be docked and hidden in the same way as any other palette such as the Tools palette or the Properties palette. 
  • The DesignCenter is available to manage your standards. It enables you to access named objects in any drawing and copy them into the current drawing. It is also used for inserting blocks from any drawing. From the DesignCenter, you can open the drawing and then simply drag and drop the blocks into your current drawing.
  • In addition to blocks, you can copy other named objects such as layers, linetypes, layouts, reference files (Xrefs), and text, table, or dimension styles.
  • Open the DesignCenter, locate the drawing containing the objects you want to use, and drag them into your current drawing. 

DesignCenter Content 

Three tabs across the top of the DesignCenter provide access to various parts of its content. These tabs are: 

  • Folders: Enables you to use the Folder list to navigate to drawings on your computer or network drives. 
  • Open Drawings: Provides access to drawing(s) that are open in the AutoCAD software. You can copy components from any of the open drawings into your current drawing window. 
  • History: Lists several of the last drawings used in the DesignCenter. Double-click on the filename to load the drawing in the Folders tab. 

Navigation and Display Tools 

The DesignCenter palette contains tools for navigating to drawings and changing the display. They are shown in the image below. 

  • Load: Opens the Load dialog box. When you select a drawing, it opens in the DesignCenter without opening in the AutoCAD software. You can copy blocks, dimension styles, layers, linetypes, etc. that are included in the selected drawing. For example, in the image below, you can directly drag any of the layouts in Addition-Adv-M.dwg and drop it into the drawing that is currently open. 

A screenshot of a computer

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  • Up: Backs up one folder level each time the button is clicked. Use this if you toggled off the tree view. 
  • Search: Opens the Search dialog box in which you can search for drawings, blocks, layers, etc. by name. 
  • Favorites: Like other Windows programs, you can specify favorite places from which to get drawings or websites. Right-click in the DesignCenter to add items to your favorites list. 
  • Home: Switches to the DesignCenter folder. 
  • Tree View Toggle: Toggles the left side of the DesignCenter off and on. If it is off, only the level you have expanded displays. 
  • Preview: Displays a preview of the selected block. 
  • Description: Displays a description of the selected block if one is available. 
  • Views: Toggles through the various types of views. Use the Large Icons option to display a thumbnail image of the blocks. 

I hope that this blog will encourage you to use the DesignCenter to access named objects from other drawings or easily use your block libraries and tool palettes. A hands-on practice for using the DesignCenter has been provided in our AutoCAD 2024 Essentials 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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