Civil 3D – Push My Buttons: Using Keyboard Shortcuts

April 22, 2020 Leo Lavayen

Keyboard shortcuts provide access to functions within AutoCAD and Civil 3D, below are some examples:

** A special shout out to Boris Tillet from WITHERS for reminding me of these basics **

Ctrl + Select = Nested Selections

Useful when dealing with Civil 3D Alignment and Profile labels as they are grouped.  And isolation allows for right-click menu access to edit content, change styles or erase.


Another use is for this nested selection ability, is to highlighting Contours or Grids.  Unfortunately, there is no extra functionality to show off here.


 Shift + Select = Remove Selection

Typically, selection commands allow users to continuously add to selection sets.  The chance to remove items from a selection is done (by default) by holding the Shift key and selecting the objects again.


We can control this from the Options dialog box > Selection tab > Selection modes


The behavior is controlled by the PICKADD system variable, the default value is 2.




Turns off PICKADD. The objects most recently selected become the selection set. Previously selected objects are automatically removed from the selection set.


Turns on PICKADD. Each object selected, either individually or by windowing, is added to the current selection set.


Turns on PICKADD. Each object selected, either individually or by windowing, is added to the current selection set.

If the SELECT command is used, keeps objects selected after the command ends.

At times users have accidentally changed the variable from the Properties tool palette.


Shift + Hold to Flip Between Trim/Extend

The AutoCAD Trim and Extend commands are sister commands, in that while one of the commands is active the same selections will complement each other when holding the SHIFT key.  In the example below the vertical blue line is selected as the boundary or cutting edge.


Shift + Hold = Ortho Lock

The option to have the ORTHOMODE enabled (keyboard shortcut F8) is great but working in a locked 0° or 90° mode can be restrictive.


Optionally, with ORTHOMODE off, we can hold the SHIFT key and restrict the mouse movements.


Shift + Right Click [or] Ctrl + Right Click = Osnap Shortcut

The running Object Snaps can be helpful on a daily basis (keyboard shortcut F3)


Sometimes we need just one extra OSNAP, just ONE – a single-use – this is where Object Snaps Overrides come to save the day.  Just hold either the SHIFT or CTRL and right-click to access the applicable menu of options to choose from.



About the Author

Leo Lavayen

Civil Applications Expert<br><br>As an Applications Expert, Leo is responsible for supporting, training and implementation of software for survey and civil engineering professionals. He has more than 17 years of experience helping large and small, public and private clients in the eastern United States.

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