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AutoCAD’s XREF-ellent Adventure, Part 1: Tuesday Tips With Lynn

Lynn Allen
June 13, 2017

Let’s face it—we all have a love-hate relationship with XREFs. We love that we can change it once, change it everywhere… but we hate those pesky broken links! AutoCAD 2018 brings with it some exciting updates to avoid and fix broken XREFs—and you know what? They’re WAY more intuitive now. Let’s dive right in, friends.

Default XREF Paths

Choose your own adventure! Now, when you attach an XREF, the default path type is set to Relative (as opposed to Full path). Don’t like that? Set REFPATHTYPE to 0 for No path, 1 for Relative, and 2 for Full path. This should help avoid broken XREFs in the future!

Broken AutoCAD XREF Paths: Default XREF Paths

And speaking of avoiding future broken links, if you have relative references in the current drawing and you save it to a different location, AutoCAD will prompt you to update the relative paths. Let’s keep everything straight!

Broken AutoCAD XREF Paths: Avoiding Broken XREF Links

Relative Paths on Unsaved Drawings

Ever tried to assign a relative path to a reference file when the host drawing is unnamed (or not saved)? “Yes, and it didn’t seem possible!” you’re probably saying. Well, it was impossible—until now!

Try it: If you select the XREF in the External References palette, the Saved Path column will display a full path with an asterisk (*) prefix. This indicates that a change will take place when you save the host drawing—and a property in the Details pane also clues you in that it is pending a relative path. Helpful, right?

Broken AutoCAD XREF Paths: Relative Paths on Unsaved Drawings

Now let’s talk about fixing those broken links. If you right click on a reference file that is not found, you have two options now: Select New Path or Find and Replace. Clear as day!

Broken AutoCAD XREF Paths: Selecting XREF Paths

Just use Select New Path to browse to a new location to find the missing XREF.

Bonus Tip: You can even apply the same new location for other missing references (fix all)! Now that’s a time-saver!

Fix All Missing XREF ReferencesFind and Replace does exactly what it sounds like it does. It locates all references that use a specified path from the selected references–and replaces them with a new path.

Broken AutoCAD XREF Paths: Find and Replace XREF Paths

And now it’s perfectly clear when changing the path type (from absolute to relative or vice versa) from the right-click menu (or toolbar menu). The current path type is even disabled so there’s no confusion!

More Tuesday Tips

Come back next week for tips on XREF child references and syntax, and don’t forget to check out the full Tuesday Tips With Lynn series in the meantime.

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Introducing AutoCAD 2018

Lynn Allen

Lynn Allen, Cadalyst columnist and Autodesk Technical Evangelist, speaks to more than 30,000 users worldwide each year. For the past 22 years she has written a column for Cadalyst magazine called "Circles and Lines" and is the voice behind the popular Cadalyst videos –“Tips and Tricks with Lynn Allen”. Lynn started using Autodesk® software over 25 years ago, and taught at the corporate and collegiate level for 13 years before joining Autodesk. A sought-after public speaker with a unique comedic style, Lynn is always one of the highest rated speakers and host of Autodesk University®. The author of three AutoCAD books, her latest is entitled AutoCAD Professional Tips and Techniques.

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