The AutoCAD pull down menus, shortcut menus, toolbars,
toolbar buttons, and shortcut keys are defined within groups of
files called menu files. Each group of menu files is called a
menu group. The files of a menu group use the same name with
The following file types are used:
- MNU: The menu template file. This text file is defined by
- MNS: AutoCAD builds a text file based on the MNU file.
This file is called the menu source file. The MNS file is by
default similar to MNU file without comments. If you add
toolbars, toolbar buttons, or shortcut keys to AutoCAD, the
changes will affect the MNS file and MNU file remains
- MNC: AutoCAD compiles the MNS file to the menu compiled
file. This binary file is used to show the menus, toolbars,
- MNR: The menu resource file is a binary file that keeps
the information regarding bitmap images used in toolbars or
other interface elements.
- MNL: The menu LISP file contains the AutoLISP routines
that are used by menu options and/or toolbar buttons.
- MNT: If the resource file (i.e. the MNR) file is not
accessible, for example, read-only, AutoCAD creates and uses
the MNT file.
The default menu group is "acad.mnu". This group is used as
the base menu. You may add some partial menus to this group. For
example Express Tools is a partial menu. You can also replace
this menu group with another one. Although this method is not
recommended, the current tutorial shows you how to load the base
The following tutorial may cause you to lose vital information
from your menus and/or toolbars. You are doing the exercise on
your own risk. If you have installed a third-party program on
AutoCAD it is highly recommended not to do the tutorial. Just
read through it to learn more!
This tutorial is designed for AutoCAD 2004.
1. Download the
following files to the same location:
2. Start AutoCAD.
3. Invoke MENU
command. The Select Menu File dialog box appears [Figure 1].
Figure 1 - Click on image to
4. From Files of
type list select Menu Template (*.mnu).
5. Locate and open
sample_base.mnu. A warning message appears [Figure 2].
If you click Yes all your menus and toolbars will be replaced by
the ones defined in sample_base.mnu.
6. Click Yes. The
menus and toolbars are replaced with those shown in Figure 3.
7. From Main menu
select Options. The Options dialog box appears.
8. Click the Files
9. Click the + sign
to the right of Support File Search Path.
10. Click the first
(long) path [Figure 4].
Figure 4 - Click on image to
11. Press F2 to
make the path editable.
12. Press Ctrl+C to
copy the path to Windows clipboard.
13. Close the
14. From Main menu
select Load base menu. The Select Menu File dialog box
15. Press Ctrl+V.
This will paste the path to the File name box.
16. Click Open.
17. In File name
box replace the text with acad.mns.
18. Click Open. The
acad menu will be enabled again.
19. If you have
installed Express tools so far, in command line type
EXPRESSTOOLS and then press Enter. The Express Menu will be
Alireza Parsai is the founder of cadpanel.com. He is a
mechanical engineer with more than 12 years experience with
AutoCAD. Alireza is an Autodesk Authorized Author, the AutoCAD
consultant for Al Khawarizmi Institute, a contributing editor
for Augiworld magazine, a writer for CAD Digest, an instructor
for AUGI Training Program, and an elected speaker for Autodesk
University 2002. He has written 7 books in Farsi, 3 booklets in
English, and more than 30 articles for different magazines and
newsletters. You can reach him at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website