AutoCAD Troubleshooting: Rebuilding Tool Palettes

How to resolve multiple Tool Palette issues in one simple workflow using the 'rebuild' approach.....


Have you experienced an issue where your network Tool Palettes contain multiple ATC files (Tool Palette Catalogs) for no apparent reason? What about dozens of redundant files, typically image files for button thumbnails after years of constant updates? 

Have you experienced that after adding a new Tool Palette to your existing corporate Tool Palette set - it does not show up for your staff?

What about buttons that are not in the correct order as intended, even though you specifically positioned buttons to be in a chronological or prescriptive order (top - down)?

Ever experience a corrupted Tool Palette where upon save to the network (after updating) a crash occurs which most likely causes undesirable or incomplete results, costing you a ton of rework to fix the problem.... and likely a good ol' headache?

"There are several solutions to the above challenges of which many are very simple to resolve (only a few steps); or you can resolve them all (generally) with a Tool Palette Rebuild."


After years of creating, modifying and managing a corporate Tool Palette set, you can imagine that several issues may arise due to constant updates or additions to content, modifications to existing items, or by the lifespan of the palettes themselves. Perhaps the Tool Palettes where originally created many years ago, in a legacy version of AutoCAD which you have upgraded from multiple times. 

Currently we have 10 unique Tool Palette sets, all with multiple palettes assigned to each set; totaling well over 100 unique palettes. The majority of these palettes were originally created 5+ years ago.


As a disclaimer, this is one way that I have found as a CAD Manager to resolve multiple Tool Palette issues all in a single workflow. Each of the identified issues mentioned above can be resolved individually, not necessarily requiring a complete rebuild, however as a 'good practice' I would advise that it may be beneficial to restructure your Tool Palettes to provide a fresh start (new files) void of clutter and redundant data after multiple updates, versions of AutoCAD, etc.

The solution is very simple and takes very little time to complete. To clarify, this level of rebuild is not 'starting from scratch' but rather taking the existing content (exporting) and then (importing) into the network location - creating brand new Tool Palette files. I'll explain further below....

First, complete any current updates to your existing Tool Palettes. This may include adding new buttons to an existing palette, adding a completely new palette to an existing set of palettes, or removing obsolete content. Be sure to close AutoCAD to 'write' all changes to the existing ATC file(s) and other respective data (such as button images, etc.).

Next, create a backup of the existing Tool Palette folder on the network. This is a contingency step to ensure that if, for some reason, something doesn't work as intended, you as a CAD Manager could quickly utilize the backup (if required).

The illustration above graphically steps through the simple process of rebuilding Tool Palettes. Additional information has been provided below for each step.
  • Open AutoCAD
  • Export All Palettes - This step creates a 'standalone' version of the existing network palettes.
  • Delete Folder Content - Navigate to the location on the network where the Tool Palette files are warehoused. Delete all files contained within the folder (all ATC files, Images folder).
  • Import Palettes - Import the previously exported palettes back into AutoCAD.
  • Close AutoCAD - Closing AutoCAD will create new ATC files, image files, etc. 


The workflow above will create brand new Tool Palette files in the network location. By using the rebuild method, all company computers previously pathed to this respective network location, will automatically obtain the newly rebuilt palettes (no user effort or action required). 

Network Tool Palettes are not 'cached' locally on a user's workstation/computer; but sourced through pathing to the network location (within Options, under the Files tab - Tool Palettes File Location), therefore any updates (including a complete rebuild) will be automatically available.

If you have any questions, suggestions on additional methods, or would like to discuss this topic further (or anything CAD Management related), please contact me via the contact form as linked from the main page or by emailing me directly at