You want to view an AutoCAD file without buying the program? Read our guide to free AutoCAD viewers. Plus, learn all there is to know about AutoCAD File Formats!
AutoCAD files are everywhere – from engineering to design there are many applications for electronic technical drawings.
Too bad that AutoCAD can cost up to $1,470 per year. However, in case you simply want to look at AutoCAD files there is a number of free programs for browsers, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. Some of them are even from Autodesk itself!
In case there is no way around using AutoCAD, consider getting a free trial version as described in our guide: AutoCAD Free Download - Is There a Free Version?
Before beginning our list of free AutoCAD viewers, let’s take a look for what purpose the three file formats are meant.
DWG stands for DraWinG, it is the proprietary file format of AutoCAD that contains all the geometrical and meta data. Due to AutoCAD’s importance in the engineering community, the format is also supported by virtually any third party CAD program. However, Autodesk has repeatedly tried to assert its control over this file format: It has refused to publish the format’s specifications and sued developers who reverse engineered the DWG format order to offer third party conversion tools.
Autodesk also developed the Design Web Format to facilitate distribution and communication of AutoCAD data in large engineering and design projects that seek to restrict access to intellectual property. Therefore, publishers can selectively export components of the file can limit that the recipient will be able to see. In this sense these files are not “full” AutoCAD drawings.
Finally, the Drawing Exchange Format was designed to enable the interoperability of AutoCAD files with third party software. However, as this format does not cover the entire feature set of AutoCAD, it is less useful than the DWG format. Plus, because of AutoCAD’s overarching role, DWG is supported by almost all other CAD programs.
Our table below can tell which of these free AutoCAD viewers have a feature set that makes them suitable to professional applications, since they even let you measure components and leave comments.
|LibreCAD||Viewing, Editing, Measuring, Conversion, Commenting||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|FreeCAD||Viewing, Editing, Measuring, Conversion, Commenting||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|DWG TrueView||Viewing, Measuring, Conversion||Windows|
|Design Review||Viewing, Measuring, Commenting||Windows|
|A360||Viewing, Measuring, Commenting||Android, iOS|
|Autodesk Viewer||Viewing, Measuring, Commenting, Screenshots, Collaboration||Browser|
LibreCAD is so much more than a free AutoCAD viewer. It is designed as an open source CAD software. This means you can not only view existing DWG files, but you can model and modify your own designs. Since LibreCAD displays only 2D views, it has a slim file size of only 30 MB. But not to worry, it can display isometric views. Though the free CAD program satisfies common drawing needs, the functionality will not overwhelm you, unlike other free CAD software. On the other hand, LibreCAD is the perfect choice for beginners, since its user interface is uncluttered.
FreeCAD is not a mere AutoCAD viewer, but a fully fledged parametric solid free CAD software. It can be used by experienced designers and engineers to draw real-life objects of any size. Its parametric modeling capability allows you to easily modify your 3D design by going back into your model history and changing its dimensions. With a rich feature set such as this, be prepared that FreeCAD can be a bit overwhelming at first. However, if you make an effort to dig deeper into the free CAD software, you will be rewarded with an amazing free tool.
DWG TrueView is the official free AutoCAD viewer by Autodesk. It is also a file converter that is designed to ensure the interoperability between different DWG versions and different releases of AutoCAD. Just like the software, so did the file format evolve over the three decades since their release. Although third party CAD programs like FreeCAD and LibreCAD can read and write DWG files, Autodesk claims that it alone can guaranty full functionality over the entire line of AutoCAD versions.
Basically, Design Review is an add-on to DWG TrueView that extends its feature set: Apart from viewing the files, you can also measure lengths, angles and areas. More importantly, this free AutoCAD viewer allows users to add comments, information, and ideas for design changes to AutoCAD files. This makes Design Review an indispensable asset whenever it is necessary to exchange DWG files with collaborators.
Autodesk has also released a free app for viewing DWF and DWG files on Android and iOS devices. Moreover, another 50 CAD file formats can be viewed. This includes drawings from CAD software like Inventor, Revit, SolidWorks, Navisworks, CATIA, Fusion 360, and many more. Compared with most of the desktop apps, A360 is quite powerful: You can make annotations, navigate to layers and components, measure distances, surfaces, and angles, but you cannot edit the files. As can be expected, this free AutoCAD viewer can be connected to major cloud services.
If you want to view AutoCAD files without going through the hassle of downloading and installing a new program, you should take a look at this online AutoCAD viewer. Moreover, you can inspect designs, create screenshots for use in presentations, and even measure components with this viewer. Autodesk Viewer is also a useful tool in collaborative projects, since AutoCAD files can be shared via URLs. The recipients can then view the files instantly without registering with Autodesk first.
License: The text of "6 Free AutoCAD Viewers You Should Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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