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: 2018 AutoCAD Free Download – Is There a Free Full Version?
Before beginning our list of free AutoCAD viewers, let’s take a look for what purpose the three file formats are meant.
Free AutoCAD Viewers – File Formats Explained
DWG stands for DraWinG, it is the proprietary file format of AutoCAD that contains all the geometrical and metadata. 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 for professional applications since they even let you measure components and leave comments.