What’s New in AutoCAD 2018?

AutoCAD 2018 is here! That’s right, it is that time of year again… time for another round of Autodesk upgrades. It’s like buying a new car, gotta love that new car smell!

AutoCAD 2018

AutoCAD is a bit light on the new features this year. I consider it almost 2017.5, as the majority of “what’s new” is extending the features introduced with 2017. Some nice-to-haves especially the performance improvements.

Technology Updates

Added with the 2017.1.1 update (patch), AutoCAD 2018 continues with the support for higher display resolutions and pixel densities, including those on 4K displays.

2018 improves the performance of saving and 3D navigation. You’ll notice the save improvements in drawings with annotative scaling blocks, Mtext with columns, and multiline attributes. With the 3D navigation, Autodesk is claiming “significant” improvements with zoom, pan, and 3D orbit. You should no large experience visual degradation as you manipulate the view.

You can now disable Smooth Line Display, without disabling High-Quality Geometry.

AutoCAD 2018 Smooth Line Graphics Performance

To round out the technology updates:

  • the Bing map service is now at v8.0
  • iDrop is removed due to potential security risks

AutoCAD 2018 User Interaction

All dialogs related to file navigation (open, new, attach, etc) now remember the column sort order.

AutoCAD 2018 File Operation Dialog

The Drafting Settings dialog is now resizable.

AutoCAD 2018 Drafting Settings Resized

The Layer Control (aka Layer dropdown) is now an option within the Quick Access Toolbar menu… and it’s about time! If you don’t currently have the Layer Control added to your Quick Access Toolbar drop everything you are doing right now and get-er-done.

AutoCAD 2018 QAT Layer Control

The System Variable Monitor icon within the Status Bar now presents a menu when right-clicked. This provides access to commonly used features without needing to access the dialog.

AutoCAD 2018 System Monitor Icon Menu

When you begin a rectangular selection it no longer terminates as you pan or zoom to another part of the drawing (off screen)… BOOM!


2018 improves the linetype gap behaviour to include support for DGN linetypes, polylines with width, and splines. This is the feature that allows for the selection of an object by picking on the gaps in the linetype.

AutoCAD 2018 Linetype Gap Selection


AutoCAD 2018 External References

AutoCAD 2018 includes many tweaks to External References.

The default path type is now Relative (opposed to Full). Don’t like this? Use the new system variable REFPATHTYPE to set the default… 0 for No Path, 1 for Relative Path, and 2 for Full Path.

Until 2018, Relative wasn’t available until the drawing was saved. Now the External References palette displays the full path with an asterisk until the host drawing is initially saved.

AutoCAD prompts to update the relative paths when saving a drawing to a different location,

AutoCAD 2018 External References Relative-Paths-Prompt

The right-click menu within the External References palette includes two new options: Select New Path and Find and Replace.

AutoCAD 2018 External References Palette Menu

Using Select New Path is for browsing for a new location for not-found (“broken”) references. Find and Replace is a great addition making it easy to replace paths with new locations.

Open is now available even when the External Reference is unloaded.

Finally, renaming a reference anywhere and anyway updates the listing in the External References palette automatically.


AutoCAD 2018 PDF Import

AutoCAD 2017 introduced PDF import, AutoCAD 2018 takes this to the next level adding support for SHX Text Recognition.

AutoCAD 2018 PDF Recognize Import Panel

Why is this is important? Acrobat PDF does not understand SHX fonts. This means the fonts translate as geometry. Now 2018 will recognize this geometry as text, based on the font type you specify.

AutoCAD 2018 PDF Text Recognition Settings

What else is new with PDF import?

  • PDF Import & Attach now show thumbnail previews
  • Issues with upside-down text is resolved
  • Improved PDF geometry scaling
  • Better Form data support

AutoCAD 2018 Text to MText

A long time Express tool, Convert to Mtext (TXT2MTXT) is bigger and better. What’s odd is that it has remained an Express tool. Driven by the new PDF import functionality, use the new workflow to import the PDF, recognize the Text, and convert to MText.

This includes selecting MText objects, in addition to text objects. This making it possible to merge Text and MText into a singular MText object.

A new Settings option on the commandline launches the Settings dialog.

AutoCAD 2018 Text to MText Settings

Character Codes (like %%d) now translate properly from Text into Mtext. AutoCAD 2018 infers the Justification (Top left, middle center, etc) and numbered/lettered lists for the new MText object.



photo credit: CarlosMDSilva Re-Censurados Audience 2 via photopin (license)