AutoCAD Palettes for the AutoCAD Electrical User

September 23, 2019 Anthony Dull

Typically, the first question I ask at the beginning of each AutoCAD Electrical (ACE) class is "Who knows AutoCAD?" and most hands typically shoot up.  Then the next statement is something like "Well, forget what you know about AutoCAD because this is ACE.".  Wait for it….but, there are times when using AutoCAD commands and methods can enhance the user experience within ACE.  Recently I have had multiple students who love customizing the Tool Palette for AutoCAD.  So, why not do the same for ACE?  Lets take a look.

First thing to do is turn on the Tool Palette in ACE.  The easiest way of turning it on is to simply type "TP" into the command line and hit enter.  Adding Commands is as simple as it is in AutoCAD.  After creating a new tab for the ACE commands simply right click and select "Customize Commands".  Search for the desired command and drag into the palette.

In a true story I made up Company "A" uses 3 types of wires 90% of the time.  So, we will add 3 instances of the "Insert Wire" command, customizing each instance of to use a different wire type.


Right click on each of them individually and select "properties".  Change the layer to the appropriate wire type and rename the command to add the wire type.


When customizing the palette keep in mind that if you are adding blocks or changing layers (Like we are doing here.) you may want to do it from your companies template file.  Then you can be assured that the blocks and layers will exist in future designs.  If the wire layer you are trying to place doesn’t exist in the drawing you are working on ACE will automictically draw the wire on the default "WIRES" layer.  Which is not what we want.

When adding blocks by dragging onto the palette

  1. Select the block
  2. Left click and drag by NOT dragging on the blue grips.  By dragging using the blue grips you are essentially doing the AutoCAD "move" command.
  3. Once over the palette just let go.

Again, make sure the source drawing that you are using is named and in a location that will not change.  If it does change then you will need to right click on the blocks and go into the properties and update the source file location.  If you add components such as, pushbuttons, lights, switches, etc, and want to place them into your drawings through the Tool Palette you must drag them off of the Tool Palette and drop them onto a wire for them to connect.  If you simply click and place them onto the wire.  A connection will not be made and you will have to use the "Move Component" command to get the wires to connect.

So, for those of you who only use a handful of commands and wires this could simplify things a bit.  Roll up the Ribbon and we now have a clean user interface for our need.


As a bonus, this is also a great way of gathering the database editing tools in one location.  Just create another palette tab and search for "database" and add all of the commands.


Remember, this is just a palette and it is controlled the same way as you would in AutoCAD.  So, if you decide that this may be beneficial for others in your organization you can place the Tool Palette files in a central location and map everyone to them through the Options dialog box (Type "OP" and hit Enter)  under the Files Tab. 

Hope this finds you well.  And back to Minesweeper!

About the Author

Anthony Dull

Sr. Applications Expert, Manufacturing<br><br>Anthony brings solid hands-on experience in manufacturing and design, as well as a mastery of cutting edge digital prototyping concepts to IMAGINiT’s technical team. With a clear understanding of the design process from concept through production, Anthony is aware of the issues that our clients face and can assist them with becoming more efficient and productive. <br> His proven expertise in modeling and analysis technology and ability to communicate his knowledge to others makes him a valued instructor and trusted partner to our clients during the specification, implementation, training and support phases of technology adoption.

Follow on Linkedin More Content by Anthony Dull
Previous Article
Generative Design with Fusion 360
Generative Design with Fusion 360

Designers or engineers input design goals into generative software, along with parameters such as materials...

Next Article
New AutoCAD 2020 Blocks Palette
New AutoCAD 2020 Blocks Palette

AutoCAD 2020 has added another method with the new Blocks Palette. The command is found on the View Tab > ...