Using AutoCAD Command in MicroStation

I started using CAD from AutoCAD. I believe most CAD users (at least that I know) also start learning from it. One thing that we depend on is using the command line. There is always strong reaction when we say Autodesk should get rid of command line. I always have the deadly question when I teach any other CAD application, if they already know AutoCAD: “does MicroStation has shortcuts like AutoCAD command line?”

Command line is very good feature for drafting. Many of us know how to activate the common tools using command line, but we forget how to activate it from ribbon (or toolbar) or from menus. So if you one of us, and having some problems when learning MicroStation, this might be helpful.


MicroStation also has something similar to AutoCAD command line. It is called key-in window. You can open it by accessing menu: Utilities>Key-In.


By default, this key in has three rows: the key-in field, list boxes, and key-ins history. You can resize this key-in window and display only the key-in field. You can also dock this window to the bottom or top of your MicroStation window. But we, AutoCAD users will choose at the bottom, aren’t we?


Using this key-in window is similar (but not the same) with AutoCAD command line. You can see that the list boxes contain the available key-ins in MicroStation. You can choose from the list if you don’t remember what you should keyed-in.

Unlike command line, this key-ins have a hierarchy. The main key-in is in the first column of the list boxes. If the key-in has child tool, then they will appear on the next column.

DWG Commands

If you do rely heavily to command line, you can try to access AutoCAD command from key-in window. Type DWG then the AutoCAD command. Or you can pick from the list. You can also use “\” (without quote) as prefix. Use DWG (or “\”) then type the command.


Remember, you can’t have AutoCAD flavor in MicroStation. They work differently, and using key-in window as AutoCAD command line certainly won’t work. You can use key-in to find equal (or similar) AutoCAD tool in MicroStation during learning MicroStation.

For example, you know how to draw a rectangle in AutoCAD, but you are confused which tool is equal in MicroStation. You can open the key-in Window, type DWG rectangle (or
ectangle) and see which tool is active. Later, after you know that place block is the one you are looking for, you can directly access it. You will find out you can use W then 1 to activate the tool. It will be faster than forcing to use key-in as AutoCAD command line.

Using Your AutoCAD PGP

You may use AutoCAD shortcuts in your acad.pgp. By default, MicroStation will use acad.pgp in your AutoCAD installation folder. If you have them both on the same machine. You can use your shortcuts with the same prefix.

However, I find that MicroStation is not always able to find it. If your shortcuts don’t work, you may need to define the configuration variables (equal to AutoCAD system variables).

MicroStation Configuration Variables

You can open the MicroStation configuration dialog from MicroStation menu: workspace>configuration.


Find these configuration variables below:


By default, the DWG command prefix is “\”. You can change the prefix to something else you prefer.


This is the configuration to define your acad.pgp location. If your MicroStation can’t find your pgp file, change this variable.

If you are actually new to MicroStation, you might be interested to see our MicroStation tutorial series here.


  1. SAURABH says

    How to activate (deactivate) osnap command (F3) of autocad in Microstation using KEY-IN.

    Also how to activate (deactivate) osnap tracking command (F11) of autocad in Microstation using KEY-IN.


    Saurabh saran

    • says

      You can use 'accusnap on' and 'accusnap off'.
      MicroStation doesn't have something like osnap tracking, but you can use temporary snap and accudraw. I'll cover this later.

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