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At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. 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.
Plotting Archive

The new large format printer has wider margins than the old one, leaving slightly less usable layout area.

The available layout area is the paper size minus the margins. Our current masters, based on narrower margins, don't fit in the new, slightly smaller layout area. When you go to print, you will see the Print dialog trying to put the layout onto four sheets, and offering to shrink the layout to make it fit. Neither is a good idea.

Four sheets

This is easy to fix.

First, get the margins from the printer. For each master in use, highlight it in the layout tree and click Settings. At the Size control, select "Import Settings From Printer".

Import from printer

You will then get a Page Setup dialog box. Select the item and then the appropriate paper size. (These are: C - 18x24in. D - 24x36in. E - 30x42in.)

OK that dialog box. If you look fast you can see the margin values change from less than a hundredth of an inch to more than a tenth:

New margins

Second, for each detail master you have to change the grid. In the master's settings again, click Grid Setup. Change the four values under "Distance From Margin" to be 1/8" less:

New margins

This change makes no difference in the printed output, since the new margin still lies outside the graphical frame of the sheet.

(Formalization of this.)

If you have a job too large to print in house, email PDF files here.

The files size limit is about 50MB.

Put the job details in the message, including the number of sets, delivery time, and any special instructions.

MBC advises us that you should call them to make sure the job got there and that they are aware of it, especially if the job is a rush, or if you are sending it outside of normal business hours.

(Similar to: In-House Printing (PlotMaker 9))

For large format output we use that enormous, hot, 16-amp-pulling thing in the middle of the office.

(Note: This is about printing layouts. 'Check printing' from AC, for the heck of it, is another matter.)


This is how to install the large format printer. Installing other printers is similar in some respects.


I'm happy to announce, and I hope I don't regret it, that we can email PDFs to MBC. And they will print them, and the drawings will probably be alright. I'm sure there will be some tuning up to do, but I think we have it working.

This is the address. Put the job details (copies etc) in the message. The file size limit is 50MB.

Let me know if you have any problems.

If you have ever tried to print a half-size set directly on the WINPRINT thing, you probably never tried again, because it took ten times longer than it should have. This is a limitation of the printer, but here's a pretty good workaround.


Attention: The only reason to plot instead of print is to send drawings out, until the print shops learn to print our PDFs without mangling them. DO NOT PLOT for archiving, or for printing in-house. PLTs look pretty bad when printed here. This method is offered as an emergency backup for when we run out of paper, or to print more sets than we can comfortably collate & staple ourselves.

I look forward to informing you that this technique is no longer needed.


Every drawing or set we give to someone else should be archived as a PDF in the project folder at 2 Output : PDF Archive. This is for convenience and our own protection.

Archives should be named with the date, and a description if the set is for a specific purpose, such as a permit set. Example: Somebody 2005-03-11 Permit.PDF.

In OS X, PDFs can be created from any print dialog by clicking the Save As PDF button.

PDFs saved in this way will be single files with all the printed sheets in them.

You can use PDFs to send drawings to consultants, if they just want to view the drawings and don't need CAD data. If they need actual drawing stuff, you need to send DWGs.

You can view drawing set PDFs using Adobe Reader or Preview, the OS X PDF viewer. Preview is generally better.

For large format output we use that enormous, hot, 16-amp-pulling thing in the middle of the office.

Here is how to install the plotter on your machine.

In PlotMaker, Page Setup. Go to File -> Page Setup. (Not Plot Setup!) At "Format For", select "WINPRINT". Select the Paper Size from the next pulldown. 18x24 is ARC C. 24x36 is ARC D. 30x42 is 30X42, not ARC E. (11x17 should be printed on the "small" printer.) To summarize, the only sizes we use are ARC C, ARC D, and 30x42.

In PlotMaker, Display Options. Make sure the fills are set to display "All Vectorial."

If you plan to print "Selected in Navigator", see below, highlight the layouts you want to print.

To print, issue the Print command by File -> Print, Cmd+P, or a toolbar button. Make sure the WINPRINT printer is selected. Set the number of copies. Click Copies & Pages and choose PlotMaker. Select what to print. Don't check "All Colors to Black."

All of the above can be automated by using Publisher, which is a really good idea.

When you print, the print job actually goes to the PC [insert snark] next to the plotter. Depending on the size of the job, it can take a while for the job to process. If you bring the PlotBase application forward, you should see your job at the bottom of the list. It will read Preparing Data, Pending, then Plotting. To reprint a job, right-click on and choose Status -> Pending. I know, real intuitive. The last 50 jobs are saved.

Plotbase troubleshooting: Make sure the "Play" button is pressed (gray). Make sure the "reader" is on (Configuration Menu).

Once the sheets start coming out, it's quick, seven D sheets a minute. Right now we don't have any facility for catching the sheets as they come out. You can grab them one at a time, or pick up the pile at the end. We'll keep working on it. Also not well-solved: binding.

Publisher is the best way to get output from PM. It allows you to save view sets with output settings, so you get the same result every time. I recommend it for printing and DWG creation.

Publisher is based on the view set concept, like in Archicad, except that in PM view sets are only used for publication and you won't encounter them otherwise. You should have a view set for each output you produce with any regularity.


Don't forget to install the plotter.

Do the Archicad stuff first.


Deprecated. Read this instead.

I think I need an Obsolete category.