Network Deployment of an AutoCAD Tool Palette

Posted in CAD Management by daniel on June 17, 2008 No Comments yet

Why do this?

  1. Enforcement/ease of use of company standard blocks/symbols, text, layers, assemblies etc.
  2. Ease of deployment in new versions of the product.
  3. Ease of when updating company standards in existing files by using the “Redefine” command found when right clicking a block in the ToolPalette.
  4. Security.
  5. It just makes sense.


  1. Work off a backup, I cannot be held responsible for what you do.
  2. This was done using Civil 3D but should transcend versions if available.

Now that that’s out of the way,

Start by getting the files you’ll need from “C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Autodesk\C3D 2009\enu\Support\” grab the whole “ToolPalette” folder and copy it to a network location that everyone using AutoCAD has access to.


Now fire up AutoCAD, go to “Options” “Files” tab, and set the “Tool Palettes File Locations” to the path we just created (UNC paths are ok).


Click “OK” and then close and reopen AutoCAD.

If you have never activated the Tool Palette, Ctrl+3 will bring it up.


Now for the customization, right click on the “Tool Palette” text and select “Customize Palettes”.


Remember, this will contain all of the company standard blocks organized by type into different palettes. Since we are using a copy that is placed on the network, and we only have one path in the “Tool Palettes File Locations” we can delete all of the palettes and groups that come with the product and are listed here. All but one that is.


Now make your first custom palette, right click in the palettes section and pick “New Palette”, give a name  and delete the last default palette. Do Not just rename the default palettes (the core files that are created will not be renamed, ever).


Close the dialog box and close AutoCAD. Closing and reopening AutoCAD Writes the files to the palette on the network.

Now for a little clean up before we reopen AutoCAD.  NOTE: Do not delete any files that are under the ToolPalette folder, there should be four files at this point (AcTpCatalog.atc, AcTpMaterials.atc, AcTpMaterialsEx.atc and AeccTpCatalog.atc) DO NOT DELETE THESE FILES. Go to the network location, and under ToolPalette\Palettes delete any *.atc files (like the “Metric – MediansShoulders.atc” file shown below) left over from the default install. Also you can delete all of the image files under the “Images” folder.


At this point you will have a “ToolPalette” folder which contains the files AcTpCatalog.atc, AcTpMaterials.atc, AcTpMaterialsEx.atc and AeccTpCatalog.atc and the folder “Palettes” which contains the first palette you have created (.atc) and an empty “Images” folder.

I would highly recommend saving a backup of this “clean” palette for future use or development. I have, and it is <here>

All rights for the toolpalette files remain with Autodesk.

Now you can open AutoCAD and start adding blocks, multileaders, assembles and tones of other things to the palette by simply copying and pasting them from a saved drawing that is accessable to everyone on the network into the palette. I put all of the drawings that contain the blocks, etc. in a folder under “ToolPalette” named “Resources” (included in the download). You can also use the DesignCenter (type “adcenter” on the command line) to add items to the ToolPalette by right clicking on a folder or drawing containing blocks and choosing “Create Tool Palette of Blocks”.

Tip: You can organize the different blocks by adding seperators and text to the palette, right click in the palette and have a look around. The first time a user activates their palette, the groups should be the same way you created them. If you reorganize items in a palette, it will not be reflected in a user’s palette unless you remove the path and redefine it.

You should have a system administrator adjust the security permissions for the “ToolPalette” folder to allow write access only to one or two people who will be adding/removing items, and read access to everyone else, all of the users that have only read access will see a lock icon at the bottom of the palette.

You should modify all of the users’ file paths in “Options” “Files” tab, and set the “Tool Palettes File Locations” to the path we set at the begining (UNC paths are ok). Also you should add the path to the network deployment of each and every product/version.

Tip: You can have more than one palette available to a user. Adding the network palette along side of the default palette will allow users to customize the default palette on their hard drive while protecting the network one.


After all is done it should look something like this:

I just tried grab a block from the picture. :)

have fun!


Next: Sweet Tricks with Profiles Views and Labels!








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