On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on macOS. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.

Let's review what the Arrow Tool does-- it might be more than you think, especially in AC8.

Remember: The right arrow key toggles between the arrow tool and the previous tool. In AC8, sometimes it doesn't work. Try it anyway. Update, in AC10, our single-key shortcut for the Arrow tool is '1'.

I'll start with the basics, so I don't leave anything out.


It selects by clicking on the detectable points and edges of elements. If more than one element in on a point or edge, multiple clicking will select each element in turn. If you hold down shift, you can accumulate a selection.

It selects by drawing a box. In AC8, the box can rotated, or it can be a polygon. I swear!

Also in AC8, you can have the box select elements wholly contained or partly contained.

Dragging & Stretching (Old School)

The following applies completely in AC7, and generally in AC8 (see below*):

There are two types of nodes: I call them stretchy and draggy. Edges are always draggy under the arrow tool.

You can drag and/or stretch elements without issuing a command. For an unselected element, click-moving (?) on any detectable node or edge will start the element dragging. If the element is selected, clicking on a stretchy node will start a stretch, clicking on a draggy node or edge starts a drag.

To put it another way, draggy nodes always drag. Stretchy nodes stretch if selected, drag if not.

Once get the hang of arrow-stretching, you will find you hardly use the stretch command itself. The adjust command and the Cmd+click are already far more appropriate in many situations. The stretch command requires you to grab a point, which requires more precision (time) than going to an edge.

*Dragging & Stretching & More (New School)

In AC8, the arrow tool has been enhanced with a pet palette, making more transformations possible, and by allowing you to choose to drag by a stretchy node.

The palette buttons are: Drag, Rotate, Mirror, Elevate, Multiply, Stretch, and, um, (bear with me) 'Switch to element-specific editing mode' (sorry). On draggy nodes, stretch is grayed out. For 2D elements, elevate is grayed out (duh).

All these buttons work exactly as expected, using the clicked-on point as a base. This means that they can't be used to mirror across a centerline, or drag, rotate, or multiply from an arbitrary point. So the commands are still needed.

(The buttons, along with the transformation commands themseleves, are greatly enhanced by by the Copy and Multiple-Copy keyboard modifiers. Once you start, for example, a drag, type Cmd to drag a copy instead. Type Cmd+Option to drag copies indefinitely, then cancel when done.)

About 'Switch to element-specific editing mode': In AC8, most tools have a editing pet palette in the manner of polygon elements in AC7 and earlier. In order to access this mode, you need to have a no-arrow tool active, or pick this button.

Further, Objects can now be written to enable customized graphical editing of parameters. Examples include opening doors, moving window symbols, and changing miter angles. This editing is done with the arrow tool.

For example, using Crown Tool.JAM8, it is possible to place one object and then finish the whole room using just he arrow tool. Check it out.