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AutoCAD has many tools to help you as a designer. Some of these you may have already used. The properties command gives you a lot of information about an object you have selected and allows you change most of them. AutoCAD also has some commands used specifically for pulling information from objects.

Most of these commands can be accessed from the Home > Utilities tool panel. Here is a list of those commands (click on the icon for more information) :






DISTANCE / DI Distance Icon

Distance measures the distance and angle between two points


MEASUREGEOM Measure Radius

Measures the radius of an arc or a circle.



Measures the angle between two lines.


Area Icon

Area Calculates the area and perimeter of objects or of defined areas.


Volume Icon

Area Calculates the area and perimeter of objects or of defined areas.

Mass Properties



Mass Properties Calculates and displays the mass properties of regions or solids.




List Displays database information for selected objects.


ID Point icon

ID Point Displays the coordinate values of a location.


The first one, DISTANCE (DI), is quite straight forward. It allows you to select two points on the screen and AutoCAD will tell you the total distance as well as the changes in X,Y & Z.

Command: DI DIST
Specify first point:
Specify second point or [Multiple points]: <SELECT ANY POINT>
Distance = 12.5107, Angle in XY Plane = 25, Angle from XY Plane = 0
Delta X = 11.3228, Delta Y = 5.3208, Delta Z = 0.0000

MEASUREGEOM is used to for a few options, among them Radius which will measure the radius of a circle or arc. Enter the command and then choose radius from the list on the screen.

Measuregeom Options

With Radius selected, just pick on any arc or circle to have the radius displayed.

Radius Display

AutoCAD is kind enough to give you both the radius and the diameter on the screen – and on the command line:

Command: measuregeom

Enter an option [Distance/Radius/Angle/ARea/Volume] <Distance>: R

Select arc or circle: <SELECT THE OBJECT>
Radius = 3.3780
Diameter = 6.7559

You are left in the command and can select another option like Angle. Now you’re asked to select 2 lines and the screen will display the angle between them.

Angle Display

Volume measurements can be used on 3D objects or 2D objects (if you enter a height). You can either select and object or pick points.

Volume Display

AREA is a command that can be very useful. This can used to calculate square footage for floors, property lots, or even something like sheet metal parts. To use this command, you can type in AREA and see this on your command line:

Command: AREA
<First point>/Object/Add/Subtract: O
Select objects:<SELECT AN OBJECT>
Area = 56.7498, Perimeter = 30.6775

The default option is to pick a point on the screen. This allows you to select the four corners of a room to find the total area in square drawing units (usually inches). You can pick as many points as you need and then press enter when you’re done. AutoCAD returns the area and the perimeter length. If you select the next option (object), you can select a circle, rectangle, polyline or some other closed object. You also have the option of adding to or subtracting from the initial area. You may need to find the carpeting area of a room, but exclude where you have tile. Or you may need to add several rooms together.

MASS PROPERTIES is an option for finding information about 3D solid objects. You can find out the total volume and from there calculate the weight based on volume. AutoCAD also figures out some important engineering figures for you such as the center of gravity for an object. This listing shows you all the information you can get from MASSPROP:

Command: massprop

Select objects: 1 found

Select objects:
—————- SOLIDS —————-

Mass: 12.0984
Volume: 12.0984
Bounding box: X: 1.8644 — 4.1304
Y: 16.1318 — 18.3978
Z: 0.0000 — 3.0000
Centroid: X: 2.9974
Y: 17.2648
Z: 1.5000
Moments of inertia: X: 3646.3725
Y: 148.8749
Z: 3722.6569
Products of inertia: XY: 626.0851
YZ: 313.3141
ZX: 54.3957
Radii of gyration: X: 17.3607
Y: 3.5079
Z: 17.5413
Principal moments and X-Y-Z directions about centroid:

Press ENTER to continue: <ENTER>
I: 12.9564 along [1.0000 0.0000 0.0000] J: 12.9564 along [0.0000 1.0000 0.0000] K: 7.7653 along [0.0000 0.0000 1.0000]

Write analysis to a file? [Yes/No] <N>: n

This is a lot of information, so AutoCAD gives you the option of saving it to a file after it is displayed.

LIST is an inquiry that gives you some basic information about a command. This is usually the information that AutoCAD needs to know about it to keep track of it in its database. Here is a listing of a line:

Command: LI LIST
Select objects: 1 found

Select objects:
LINE Layer: “0”
Space: Model space
Color: 1 (red) Linetype: “BYLAYER”
Handle = 2fd
from point, X= 9.2042 Y= 13.5272 Z= 0.0000
to point, X= -2.1187 Y= 8.2064 Z= 0.0000
Length = 12.5107, Angle in XY Plane = 205
Delta X = -11.3228, Delta Y = -5.3208, Delta Z = 0.0000

Here are the properties (CTRL+1) for the same line:


Notice that you can get the same information, but also have the option of changing anything that you need to.

After List, the next option is ID POINT. This allows you to select anywhere on the screen and have AutoCAD return the X,Y&Z coordinates for that point. Here is a listing of ID POINT:

Command: ID Specify point: <SELECT POINT>
X = 155′-2 1/2″ Y = 48′-9 3/16″ Z = 0′-0″

(You can also get this information by selecting a grip and looking at the status bar.)


Time Displays the date and time statistics of a drawing. Type TIME.

Status Displays drawing statistics, modes, and extents. Type STATUS.

Set Variable Lists or changes the values of system variables. Type SETVAR.

TIME and STATUS are two inquiries that give you information about the system, as opposed to objects.

Here is a listing of TIME:

Command: TIME

Current time: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 6:00:11:671 PM
Times for this drawing:
Created: Sunday, April 28, 1996 10:11:02:620 AM
Last updated: Tuesday, August 10, 2004 1:24:52:328 AM
Total editing time: 0 days 12:00:49:244
Elapsed timer (on): 0 days 12:00:49:244
Next automatic save in: <no modifications yet>

You can see the current date, when you last saved and when AutoCAD will do its next automatic save. And yes, that file has been with me for 8 years.

Here is a listing of STATUS:

Command: STATUS
120 objects in Drawing1.dwg
Model space limits are X: 0.0000 Y: 0.0000 (Off)
X: 12.0000 Y: 9.0000
Model space uses X: -4.1963 Y: -0.2930 **Over
X: 52.2702 Y: 34.7170 **Over
Display shows X: -9.5333 Y: -7.2543
X: 68.2812 Y: 37.6074
Insertion base is X: 0.0000 Y: 0.0000 Z: 0.0000
Snap resolution is X: 0.5000 Y: 0.5000
Grid spacing is X: 0.5000 Y: 0.5000
Current space: Model space
Current layout: Model
Current layer: “TEXT”
Current color: BYLAYER — 3 (green)
Current linetype: BYLAYER — “Continuous”
Current lineweight: BYLAYER
Current elevation: 0.0000 thickness: 0.0000
Fill on Grid off Ortho off Qtext off Snap off Tablet off
Object snap modes: Center, Endpoint, Intersection, Midpoint, Quadrant,
Free dwg disk (C:) space: 2797.3 MBytes
Free temp disk (C:) space: 2797.3 MBytes
Free physical memory: 13.6 Mbytes (out of 509.8M).
Free swap file space: 752.0 Mbytes (out of 1246.3M).

As you can see, there is a lot of information here, not only about your drawing, but about the computer you are working on.

The last inquiry, SET VARIABLE (SETVAR), allows you to change any system variables, or if you like AutoCAD will list them for you. The details of this command are not covered in this lesson. You must be VERY careful when working with system variables. A brief overview is given in Lesson 4-8.

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