Author: Matt Miyamoto AutoCAD
  1. AutoCAD Classic Workspace and the Ribbon – Get the Best of Both Worlds
  2. Quick Access to Layers Controls from Any Ribbon Tab
  3. Step-by-Step Instructions
AutoCAD Classic Workspace and the Ribbon – Get the best of both worlds

While reviewing some of our recent technical support cases, I came across a request for the “AutoCAD Classic” workspace. Although the workspace has officially been removed from the AutoCAD program since the 2015 release, the elements that make up that workspace are still available to those who know how to find them. 

Using the AutoCAD Classic workspace is no longer recommended because of the updated features and functions that are now built into the Ribbon. For example, the MText Editor, Hatch Creation, and Array command are all now part of contextual Ribbon tabs that appear when those commands are used. That being said, there’s no reason you can’t have the best of both worlds.

Quick Access to Layers Controls from Any Ribbon Tab

I have been loading the Layers and Layers II toolbars into my workspace for a while now, and that allows me quick access to the layer controls, regardless of the Ribbon tab I am on.

Since the Layers panel in the Ribbon is on the Home tab by default, you have to switch back and forth between Ribbon tabs if you are working with Annotation or Insert and other non-Home tab based tools. The ability to quickly set a current layer or adjust layer states without going back and forth between Ribbon tabs has saved me time and made drafting much more efficient. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

The Quick Access Toolbar in AutoCAD 2018 has been updated to include the Layer Control list as part of the options to display, but that will only show the Layer Control dropdown, not the additional utilities like the Layer Properties Manager or Layer States Manager.

If you want to add the Layers Toolbar (or any other classic toolbar) to your Workspace, here are the steps:

1. Launch AutoCAD and open a file (any file will work)
2. At the Command Line (or Dynamic Input), type -TOOLBAR and press ENTER

Classic Layers Toolbar - Step 1

3. When prompted for a Name, type LAYERS and press ENTER
4. When prompted to Enter an Option, type S for Show and press ENTER

Classic Layers Toolbar - Step 2


The default location for the Layers Toolbar should be at the top of the drawing area, below the Ribbon.


Classic Layers Toolbar - Step 3

Once the first toolbar is displayed, adding additional classic toolbars is easy. Right-click in the grey area where the toolbar is docked, and access the full list of toolbars from the menu.


Classic Layers Toolbar - Step 4

I also like to add the Layers II toolbar to the workspace to provide access to the additional layer tools like Layer Isolate, Layer Walk, Layer Freeze, Layer Off and Layer Lock/Unlock.

The biggest drawback to the classic Layers toolbar is that the color tile does not work to change the color of layers like it does in the current Layer Dropdown. Since that feature was added recently, the classic toolbar has not been updated to include that ability. Freeze/Thaw/On/Off/Lock/Unlock all work from the classic toolbar.

Some toolbars also appear in a “floating” state so you may have to look around on your screen (or screens if you have more than one monitor) and move it to the location you prefer.

Whether you are looking for a way to get some of the AutoCAD Classic workspace back, or looking for a way to increase efficiency by making more tools available in your Workspace, adding some classic Toolbars is a great place to start. Be sure to save your changes as a custom workspace, or verify that “Automatically Save Workspace Changes” option is checked in your Workspace Settings to keep these customizations in your next session.

NOTE:  To manually set up the “AutoCAD Classic” Workspace, turn on all of the toolbars you wish to see, set the MENUBAR system variable to 1, and use the RIBBONCLOSE command to turn off the Ribbon. When using a classic workspace setup, the Ribbon based commands will display their options as text in the Dynamic Input window or at the Command Line since contextual tabs will not be available.

For more tips and tricks, visit our blog. For more information on the software solutions, training and consulting Ideate provides, please visit the Ideate, Inc. homepage.

      Matt Miyamoto
Matt Miyamoto
ENI Manager & Senior Application Specialist

Matt is an ENI Manager and Senior Application Specialist in Ideate, Inc.’s Seattle office. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and is a licensed Civil Engineer. Prior to joining Ideate, Matt worked as a civil engineer, using Civil 3D on a variety of projects including site development, roadway improvements and infrastructure design. With over 10 years of experience in the civil engineering industry, Matt now provides training, consulting, technical support, and implementation strategies for organizations transitioning to Civil 3D. Matt is an Autodesk Certified Instructor (ACI), as well as an Autodesk Certified BIM Specialist: Roads and Highway Solutions. Additionally, Matt is an Autodesk Certified Professional for AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D. Find Matt on Twitter.