Understanding the Autodesk Content Browser – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a multi-part series on the Autodesk Content Browser.  This article will address how it is organized.

Part 1 of the series addresses why you would want to use the Content Browser and how to get to it. Read it here.

The Content Browser contains the following items as part of its structure:

  • Library
  • Catalog
  • Category
  • Palette
  • Tool


The main page of the Content Browser shows the Catalog Library.  The primary purpose of the Library is to show various Catalogs that are accessible.  The Library is simply a file that contains references or pointers to Catalogs and it is possible to have a library that is empty with absolutely no catalogs available.  A Library page can only display catalogs.

By default, each AutoCAD Architecture user (based on the Microsoft Windows profile) on a computer has their own library and that library will have the user name listed at the top of the library.  It is possible to create a deployment image that has each user look to one specific location (usually on a server) by default when they open their Content Browser.  That capability is discussed later.

The graphic below illustrates the default appearance of the main page of the Content Browser for AutoCAD Architecture 2014.

Content Browser Library

The icon buttons in the upper left corner of the Content Browser allow you to move around in the Content Browser similar to using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.  You also have the availability of using the Search feature to find specific information anywhere in the Content Browser.  Typing text in the Search box and picking the Go button will search through all information listed through the catalogs shown on the page.  If the Search function is used when inside a catalog, only that one catalog will be searched.

Along with the Sort and Filter buttons, the Preferences icon at the bottom of the screen allows you some limited adjustment to how you see information within the Content Browser.  A popular adjustment is made in the Preferences to increase the number of rows per page to see more information on a page as this affects all pages throughout the Content Browser.

Content Browser Page Rows


A Catalog is a container which holds related tools and can be grouped in various ways.  The following are various types of catalogs that you might have in a library:

  • Stock catalogs provided by Autodesk
  • Shared company custom catalog(s) on a network
  • Local User custom catalog
  • Web page from outside organization

The graphic below illustrates the Catalogs that appear by default on a typical AutoCAD Architecture installation.  These catalogs point to the location specified during the AutoCAD Architecture installation process.

Content Browser OOTB Library

New Catalogs can be created or existing Catalogs can be added to a Library.

Unlike a Library, a Tool Catalog can contain any of the following items, which will be discussed in more detail later:

  • Category
  • Package
  • Palette
  • Tool

Content Browser Items

The “My Tool Catalog” is specific to each user on the computer for them to have a personal catalog.


A Category is a way of subdividing a catalog into smaller divisions.  It is a good idea to use categories when you have a great deal of information and need to divide it up into manageable and logical pieces.  It is not advisable to create a lot of categories simply for the purpose of having them.  You want to make it easier for the user to find something and not harder.  It is easy to get carried away creating a lot of categories that only have a few tools into them.

This graphic illustrates the many default categories that are within the Design Tool Catalog – Imperial.  Note that the categories are listed on the left side of the screen and graphically shown in the main window.

Content Browser Catalog

Categories can contain other categories, along with Palettes, Packages, and/or Tools.

Using the i-dropper, a category can be dropped into your AutoCAD Architecture workspace.  When a category is dropped, a tool palette group will be created and any tool palettes in that category will be dropped into the tool palette group in the workspace.

Content Browser Palette Group

Why use Categories?

  • A company with different project focused teams can have different categories for each team.  For instance, a team working on schools may use different styles of walls, doors, windows, etc than a team working on strip retail centers.
  • A manufacturer can provide content to the AutoCAD Architecture community and have their product easily added to a user’s Content Browser.  For instance, a window manufacturer can have a Catalog for their product with each of their product lines in a separate sub-category.


A Package allows you to pack up Tools together.  It allows you to copy a lot of tools at once, as dropping a package into AutoCAD Architecture will place all of the tools in the package onto the active tool palette.  It does not create a palette.

Tool Palette

A Palette contains a collection of tools.  This article series will not deal with the creation and usage of palettes within AutoCAD Architecture.  Other articles have been published on this blog addressing palettes.


A Tool is an individual item that can perform any one of a variety of tasks.  This article will not deal with the creation of tools within AutoCAD Architecture.  However, the following articles concerning ACA palettes have been written on this blog:

An important note is that while the Content Browser can contain tools, the tool can NOT be created in the Content Browser.  It must be created on a palette in the user’s workspace and copied to the Content Browser either individually or as part of a palette.

What’s next?

The next article will address establishing the library to which the Content Browser will look.  Read it here.


One thought on “Understanding the Autodesk Content Browser – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Understanding the Autodesk Content Browser – Part 1 | Applying Technology to Architecture

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