home - about - advertise     

AutoCAD Tutorial

AutoCAD Menus: The Base Menu

July 1, 2003

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 different extensions.

The following file types are used:

  • MNU: The menu template file. This text file is defined by user.
  • 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 untouched.
  • MNC: AutoCAD compiles the MNS file to the menu compiled file. This binary file is used to show the menus, toolbars, etc.
  • 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 menu.

Caution: 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!

Note: 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 enlarge

4. From Files of type list select Menu Template (*.mnu).

5. Locate and open sample_base.mnu. A warning message appears [Figure 2].

Figure 2

Note: 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.

Figure 3

7. From Main menu select Options. The Options dialog box appears.

8. Click the Files tab.

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 enlarge

11. Press F2 to make the path editable.

12. Press Ctrl+C to copy the path to Windows clipboard.

13. Close the dialog box.

14. From Main menu select Load base menu. The Select Menu File dialog box appears.

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 enabled.

About the Author

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 alireza.parsai@cadpanel.com or visit his website www.cadpanel.com

More CAD Corner tutorials >>

CADdigest Weekly
Email (required) *

A week's worth of articles will be emailed to you. See latest issue .