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Xref Directory Structure
Tip# 3256 By Kent Wallace On 16-Aug-2009
Rated By 1 users
Categories : DWG
Software type : AutoCAD 2010
Rename File To : No Files to download.
Properly storing xrefs saves the trouble of hunting for lost ones.

Kent Wallace keeps his xref files under control through specific storage requirements. 

"This is how I store xrefs (and require my contractors to do the same) so I’m not hunting for 'lost' xrefs. This has been working for me since AutoCAD R12. My office is currently running AutoCAD 2008. We are planning on the move to AutoCAD 2010 soon. I hope this can be used to help others."

Directory structure
   Job #

- Dwg (Contains all numbered drawing files)

- Xref (Contains all external reference drawing files)


Note.  The Dwg and Xref folders can be moved anywhere as long as their relationship to each other remains the same.

Set the search path (one time only)
  • In the Tools menu, click Options to display Options dialog box.
  • Under the Files tab, highlight Support File Search Path.
  • Click Add.
  • In box, type: "..xref” (without quote marks).
  • Click OK.

Note: The above step is only to accommodate the few drawings that do not have properly pathed xrefs.

Attach an xref
  • Bring up External Reference dialog box.
  • Type Xref at Command prompt and press Enter.
  • Click on Attach DWG icon.
  • Locate file to insert, highlight it, and click on Open button.
  • Make changes in dialog box as desired.
  • Change Path Type to Relative Path.
  • Click OK.
Complete insertion process (similar to inserting a block).

Notes from Cadalyst Tip Patrol: Adding an …Xref folder to the support file search path will generate a “Folder Does Not Exist” error if there isn’t an xref folder in your working folder. But you can add it anyway. This step will help AutoCAD know to look in the xref subfolder, and you only have to do it once. 

Having a directory structure (or folder structure) is important. It makes things easier for everyone because we all know where the files are kept. The important thing is to have a structure and stick to it.  


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User comments
Comment by Maeding,James
Posted on 2009-08-17 15:44:57
so you have one folder for all drawings under a project? Obviously not, so explaining the process of dividing up a project is needed. Once you do that, you must decide if xrefs go with plansets, or in a central spot. Ignore that, and you have a mess beacuse people will nest folders as they please. So many companies ignore this and its mayhem.
Comment by Wallace,Kent
Posted on 2009-08-17 17:52:43
James, You are correct. I have multiple "DWG" folders, one for each contractor and/or supplier's drawings (each with their name). I try to control the xref's for the entire project. We aren't a huge company, so I can keep fairly tight control. On our larger projects, we have had 3-4 other engineering firms working with us, so it just takes a good up-front communication and understanding over who will be "in charge" of keeping things up-to-date at each site. Communication has to be excelent, or things can get messy in a hurry. Thanks, Kent