CAD Tip 1024: Disabling the F1 Key

Slow help is no help.
—Proverb, author unknown

This tip eliminates a common irritation by disabling the F1 key in AutoCAD.  In Tip 1020, on the uses of the Function keys in AutoCAD, I mentioned a friend who grew perturbed by accidentally, repeatedly hitting the F1 key on his keyboard when he was trying to hit the ESCAPE key to get free of an AutoCAD command.  He took a pocketknife and pried off the F1 key, thereby solving the problem handily, if a bit destructively.

I admired his determination to stop at nothing to stop the recurring irritation, interruption, and loss of productive time which is so common in AutoCAD from accidentally activating the very-slowly-opening Help feature.

I think there must be no other software program that depends so heavily on the ESCAPE key as AutoCAD does.  The ESCAPE key is so far away from the main typing area of the keyboard, and so close to the F1 key, that it’s hard to avoid accidentally hitting it.

Since I wrote that post, I ran across a more elegant way to disable the F1 key in AutoCAD.

The trick is to re-map the key to a different, harmless function.

On the ribbon, go to the Manage tab, Customization panel, User Interface button.  The Customize User Interface dialog box opens. See the image below.  You can also get here by typing CUI [RETURN].

The Customize User Interface dialog box

Expand (click on the plus (+) sign next to) the Keyboard Shortcuts category in the top left box, and then expand the Shortcut Keys section.

By the way, if any of the other, non-essential (for the current operation) categories are already expanded, in which case they will have a minus (-) sign next to them, and subcategories displayed below, it will make it quicker and easier to navigate the “tree” if you collapse them first by clicking on the minus sign.  This is a general-purpose tip useful in any expandable tree dialog box in AutoCAD, Windows, or other programs.  Simplify, simplify, simplify!  Reduce the visual noise.

Under Shortcut Keys, select Cancel by single-clicking on it.  This will become the new, harmless F1 key function.

Now look in the Properties box at the middle right side of the CUI box.  If needed, expand the Access category.  Type F1 in the cell next to Key(s), as shown in the image above.  Click Apply and OK at the bottom and you’re done.  Now the F1 key will activate the Cancel function, which basically does the same thing as the ESCAPE key.  This only affects the F1 key in AutoCAD, and has no effect on other programs.

Unlike prying the key off with a pocketknife.  😉

Hope this helps.  Keep on CADDing!   🙂


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