AutoCAD 2015: Managing the Application Manager

AutoCAD 2015 includes a new feature called Application Manager. I’m sure it serves a lofty purpose, but it comes across a lot like the slimy Norton and Adobe updaters that are really just Trojans in disguise. It gets installed by default, with no option to prevent installation. To Autodesk’s credit, they do provide instructions for preventing installation of Application Manager, and instructions for removing it after the fact. Uninstalling requires several additional clicks, as if they really, really want you to think twice before taking such a drastic measure.

I don’t want anything starting when I log into Windows except the bare minimum, so I uninstalled Application Manager forthwith. It can be installed and started manually if I decide to use it later.


If you decide to use Application Manager, there are some configurable settings. There is even a UI for most of the settings (such as disabling the automatic startup), but there’s a catch: to use the UI for changing settings, you first have to agree to the Autodesk Privacy Statement (and give Autodesk access to information about your installed software). I’m sure this is just an oversight, but the paranoid will not find it comforting.

Application Manager settings are stored in a plain text file, located by default at:

“%AppData%AutodeskAutodesk Application Manager.ini”

If you don’t want to agree to Autodesk’s terms, you can still change settings by editing the .ini file in a text editor like Notepad (just enter the file path above in Start -> Run). For example, change the line to AutoRun=false if you want to disable “Automatically start when you log into the computer”. Note that this setting is somewhat misleading: Application Manager always starts regardless, but it quickly exits again if AutoRun is set to false. If you already agreed to the privacy policy, but have since changed your mind, you can set PrivacyPolicyLevel=0.

The MFC Balloon

The MFC version that ships with Visual Studio 2010 is known to cause major explosions in file size when you link statically. To avoid that problem, I use the Visual Studio 2008 build tools for such cases. I recently got quite a surprise when I rebuilt one such MFC application and discovered that the executable had ballooned from 400kb to 2MB in the space of one week despite only very minor changes.

I assumed that one of my piddly little changes must have unleashed a dependency that sucked in the entire MFC library, which is exactly what happens in VS 2010. To test this hypothesis, I rolled back all my changes to the previous build state and did a complete rebuild. No change; the executable was still 2 MB. Wonderful.

It turns out a recent Visual Studio update (delivered automatically via Windows Update in my case) “broke” the VS 2008 MFC files, so they now suffer the same massive bloating problem that VS 2010’s MFC library suffers from. I applied the solution mentioned in this blog post (actually in my case I only needed to hack the afxglobals.cpp file). Now the MFC balloon is deflated again and my file sizes have dropped back to normal.

[Update 1: Ted has now tracked down more specifics about this problem and posted a cleaner solution.]

[Update 2: Microsoft has now fixed this problem at the source with updated patches.]

If you link statically to MFC with VS 2008 or VS 2010 in any of your projects, check your executable sizes now.