The GRIPOBJLIMIT system variable, found in AutoCAD 2004 and up, controls how AutoCAD displays grips on selected objects. When GRIPOBJLIMIT is set to zero, grips are always displayed when objects are selected (assuming grips are indeed turned on).
Caption: Grips on selected objects display when the number of objects selected is less than the GRIPOBJLIMIT setting (in this case, 10) or when the setting is 0.
When GRIPOBJLIMIT is set to a nonzero value, no grips are displayed when the number of selected objects exceeds the GRIPOBJLIMIT value.
Caption: Grip display is suppressed when the number of objects selected exceeds the GRIPOBJLIMIT value.
The default setting is 100. That means AutoCAD displays grips when you select one to 100 objects, but displays no grips when you select 101 or more objects. The idea is that when you select lots of objects, you likely aren’t going to be grip editing them. Suppressing the grip display speeds up performance and makes the objects easier to see.
There are a few quirks related to this system variable, however. If you first select enough objects to exceed your GRIPOBJLIMIT setting, then hold down the Shift key to remove some from your selection set so that you have less than the GRIPOBJLIMIT selected, the grips do not reappear.
Caption: Once you exceed the GRIPOBJLIMIT limit with a selection set, the grips are gone for good—even when the number of objects in the set drops below GRIPOBJLIMIT.
When the opposite occurs—you select a number of objects below the cutoff, then add more objects to the set to exceed the GRIPOBJLIMIT setting—the results are as you’d expect in AutoCAD 2006 and up. The grips are visible when you have fewer than the GRIPOBJLIMIT setting selected and suppressed when the set exceeds the setting. However, in AutoCAD 2004 and 2005, grips will always be displayed if your first selection contains fewer objects than specified by the GRIPOBJLIMIT setting, no matter how many more objects you add to that selection set.
Another quirk occurs when you select objects in excess of the GRIPOBJLIMIT setting, then change the properties of the selected objects. For example, you use the Layer toolbar control to move objects to a different layer. The property change occurs as expected, but the grips reappear.
Finally, a bug reported for AutoCAD 2009 affects users who set the PICKADD system variable to zero, which enables them to hold down the Shift key to add objects to a selection set. If you have a large number of grips displayed and then try to clear your selection set by drawing a selection window in a blank area of the drawing, AutoCAD may lock up. Sometimes it returns to normal after a short delay, but sometimes it stays locked for good. The workaround is to use the Esc key to clear selection sets.
This particular problem appears to be fixed in AutoCAD 2010, only to be replaced with a different one. When you display grips for a large number of objects (GRIPOBJLIMIT is set to 0 or to a large number), AutoCAD 2010 takes a very long time to display the selected objects and their grips. For example, a selection that took 1 to 2 seconds in AutoCAD 2008 may take 15 to 25 seconds in AutoCAD 2010.