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AECbytes Tips and Tricks Issue #2 (January 19, 2006)

"Get it to Go" in ArchiCAD

JT Burk
Principal, CADeshack

Grabbing properties, settings, attributes and favorites can be a real time saver when working in any CAD program and Graphisoft has made this an easy task when working in ArchiCAD. Most ArchiCAD users are accomplished at matching the default tool by clicking on any element while holding down the Alt key (Opt key on a Mac). This process turns the cursor into an eye dropper and extracts the properties from the item clicked and automatically activates the proper tool (i.e. walls, doors, etc.). Similarly if you hold down both the Ctrl+Alt (Cmd+Opt for a Mac) the cursor turns into a syringe whereby you can inject the current default tool settings into the item you click on.

Moving past these basic tasks, you can also transfer parameters between elements of the same library type. Using Ctrl+Alt-click on Windows / Cmd+Opt-click on MacOS, it is possible to transfer between two library objects the whole set of parameters they have in common. Let us say we have a window selected on the Floor Plan. If we go to its Settings dialog box, we see the following:

When you have the Object Settings dialog box open with the object parameters already set and want to change objects, simply hold down Ctrl+Alt (Cmd+Opt for a Mac) to Transfer/Keep All Relevant Parameters. When performing this action, you will see the cursor change to the familiar syringe symbol and you can select a new object.

When such an operation is done, the values of all matching parameters are transferred if the matching parameters are of the same type.

These are great techniques for grabbing properties and parameters, but let's say you want to get more attributes from another project such as materials, line types or fill types. This is where you simply access Attribute Manager in ArchiCAD.

The Attribute Manager command in the Options menu allows you to copy (append or overwrite) attributes such as Layers, Layer Combinations, Pens & Colors, Line Types, Fill Types, Composite Structures, Materials, Zone Categories, and Cities between two opened files. It can also duplicate or delete attributes in either of the two files. On choosing the Attribute Manager command, the following dialog box appears. (Since it has to list all the attributes of the project, displaying the dialog box might take some time.)

On the left, the attributes of the currently opened ArchiCAD file are shown. On the right, you can either open a second ArchiCAD file (Project, Archive, or Module) or create a new one in a special format that belongs to Attribute Manager. The buttons between the two parts of the dialog box allow you to copy attributes in either direction, delete, append or overwrite them.

OK, so we have transferred properties and attributes as we work but now we may want to get our common default settings to go from project to project. "Favorites" is a term that is used for storing the default settings of the various tools within ArchiCAD that you use frequently (like office standards). Each tool has a favorite button in the settings box that you can use to either define a new favorite or grab an existing "favorite settings" to use. Favorites also have a palette display that can be active in your work window. You can export the whole set of Favorites in a separate file by choosing Save Favorites from the Favorite palette. The file will be saved with the .prf extension. You can then import or restore saved Favorites by choosing Load Favorites from the Favorite palette.

Note that when you have located the file to import/restore and clicked OK in the directory dialog box, ArchiCAD will ask you whether you wish to replace the current list of Favorites with the one you are restoring or merge the two sets of Favorites.

When merging the two sets, if any Favorites have identical names, you will be prompted to skip or overwrite the original definition.

Keeping these things in mind while you work will speed up your delivery as you "Get it to Go" in ArchiCAD, and will save your time for a full course meal at the dinner table.

About the Author

JT Burk is the Principal of CADeshack, a value added reseller for architects and builders, and has used the Building Information Modeling process for over 14 years when he initially formed The OwneRep Group, a project management & architectural company in Houston & Chicago. Mr. Burk is licensed in fifteen states (NCARB) as an architect. He has over 30 years experience in several different building types as well as an extensive corporate architectural background. He has a Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Wisconsin. He can be reached at or visit his web site at




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