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How to view DWG without AutoCAD

View DWG Without AutoCAD

Imagine the scenario: a colleague sends you a drawing, and all you need to do is view it, print it, and mark it up. Nothing too out of the ordinary – reviewing and collaborating is part of any team’s work flow. But there’s a snag – the file is a .dwg, and you don’t have AutoCAD. You could buy an AutoCAD license, but when all you need to do is view the file, that seems a bit excessive – and expensive.

Could there be another way? The answer is yes! In this guide, we’ll show you a few different ways you can view DWG files without AutoCAD. Read on!

1. Scan2CAD

The first on our list and – in our humble opinion – possibly the best is our very own Scan2CAD. Scan2CAD is market-leading software for conversion, vectorization and image editing. Scan2CAD’s main feature is to convert image files into DWG (and DXF) – but it has a whole lot more. Not only can you use Scan2CAD to view DWGs and DXFs, its complete image editing suite allows you to edit them as well. What’s more, you can try out Scan2CAD’s full range of features completely free for 14 days.

Scan2CAD Raster to vector conversion - After conversion

The Scan2CAD file-viewer interface

2. A360 Viewer, DWG True View and AutoCAD 360 by AutoDesk

AutoDesk offers three solutions which allow you to view DWG files without using AutoCAD software, all of which are free to use. There’s A360 Viewer, which is a browser-based viewer that only allows file viewing and some light markup functionality. DWG True View is a desktop software which allows you to also convert DWG file versions and markup. Finally, AutoCAD 360 is a mobile or web app, which also allows simple editing with limited AutoCAD functionalities. You’ll have to set up a free account with to use these apps, but with CAD software increasingly moving towards the cloud, it could be worth it in the long run.

A360 Viewer AutoDesk Screenshot

The A360 Viewer in action

3. Convert the DWG file to PDF format first

ScantoCAD PDF to DXF File ConverterA decent “roundabout” solution to viewing DWG files is by converting it to PDF first. A quick Google search will reveal a bunch of free options you can use to convert your DWG file, but please be wary of the common pitfalls of using these free online file converters. Besides the possibility of compromising the safety and privacy of your files, you’ll often find that these converters offer very limited functionality. Some of your file’s data may also get lost in translation, and the files cannot be edited once converted. If the converter converts your vector images to raster pixel-based files, you may lose quality as well — the more you zoom in, the more pixelated the image will be.

If you already use Adobe Acrobat DC, however, you could make use of its ability to convert DWG files to PDF. Adobe Acrobat DC is a PDF solution that allows you to convert, sign, send and manage documents. It’s really easy to use too – from Windows Explorer, simply locate the DWG file, right-click, and select “Convert to Adobe PDF”. With one click, you now have a PDF file that can be viewed by anyone with Adobe Reader. Acrobat DC ensures that all layers, scaling options, and links are preserved. The content is tagged too, so your file remains searchable. Another great benefit to converting from DWG to PDF is reduced file size. I converted a 1MB DWG file into a 330kB PDF – slicing two-thirds off the file size. However, this is only a viable option if you already have a pro subscription for Adobe Acrobat DC; prices start from $14.99 or £13.33 per month.

Need to convert back? Learn everything you need to know about converting your PDF file to DWG.

4. Other major CAD software

If you already use CAD software, there’s no harm in checking whether the CAD software that you’re familiar with handles DWG files. Most of the major CAD software applications offer the ability to open, view and share DWG files. A few examples include DraftSight, IntelliCAD, CorelCAD, Google Sketchup and Microsoft Visio. Due to the proprietary nature of the DWG format, you may struggle to find software that will let you edit the files themselves, however.

CAD software to view and edit DWG files

A few examples of CAD software that can be used to open DWGs



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13 Responses to How to view DWG without AutoCAD

  1. jigar May 27, 2016 at 8:15 AM #

    i just know how i export a 2d drawing in jpg format with pixel size 1 mm =1pixel and desire pixel length and hight.

    • Luke Kennedy May 27, 2016 at 3:40 PM #

      Hey Jigar,

      Drop us an email via the contact page and we’ll help you out right away!

  2. Abi Oct 20, 2016 at 6:08 PM #


    Apologies for what may seem a dim question, but will any of these programmes allow me to simply measure distances on CAD plans? I have no need to edit them, simply get the accurate measurement from the file directly!

    Many thanks,

    • Luke Kennedy Apr 15, 2017 at 12:31 PM #

      Hey Abi, yes of course. You can measure the distance of any part of a vector image using Scan2CAD. You can also input the correct vector scaling information to ensure it’s always accurate.

  3. Dnyanesh Sep 28, 2018 at 5:56 AM #

    i am looking for .dst file to .png file conversion using php or any other programing language which then we use converted .png file on website.

    • luke Sep 28, 2018 at 11:05 AM #

      I don’t know of anything suitable but let us know what you find!

  4. T Jan 22, 2020 at 6:26 PM #

    I have Adobe Acrobat Dc & the convert DWG files to PDF doesn’t work for me. Does it work for anyone?

    • Luke Jan 22, 2020 at 8:46 PM #

      You will probably get a useful answer if you post this question at CAD Answers.

  5. Sam Owens Feb 25, 2020 at 12:43 PM #

    To clarify, does this software allow you to scan an existing paper hard copy illustration or JPEF/PDF file, and automatically set up a layered array for further editing in AutoCAD as a DXF?

    Right now, we are scanning illustrations to JPEG and then importing and tracing in AutoCAD

    • Luke Feb 25, 2020 at 9:20 PM #

      Hi Sam, yes – that’s exactly what Scan2CAD is for.

  6. Reb Crocker Jun 17, 2020 at 1:16 AM #

    Are there companies that will take your dwg files and convert them to pdf showing all dimensions and layers?

    • Luke Jun 17, 2020 at 1:47 PM #

      Converting from DWG to PDF (rather than PDF to DWG) is extremely simple. It’s much more complex the other way round.

      You can do that with most CAD software. Don’t think you need to outsource to a company.

  7. jiao yang Oct 14, 2020 at 2:49 PM #

    Hi, I find a very helpful dwg/dxf viewer named CAD Reader. It is so user-friendly and most of the commonly used features are free! It has both versions for computers and mobile phones. I highly recommend it.

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