Free software for viewing AutoCAD files
Autodesk DWG TrueView is a free multimedia software that allows users to view AutoCAD and other DWG files. Because DWG TrueView is just a viewer, you cannot use it to alter a drawing. You can, however, measure and print your drawings and convert DWG files between AutoCAD formats. It is particularly useful for architects, engineers, and construction professionals.
Is DWG TrueView free?
The Autodesk DWG TrueView app is a free stand-alone DWG viewer. It is built on the same platform as AutoCAD, an industry-standard, paid-for computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software application. DWG TrueView allows you to view the latest DWG, DWF, and DXF file formats, just as you would in AutoCAD, but without paying a license fee.
DWG Trueview is a Windows-only application and it is not available for Mac operating systems. There have been various versions of the DWG TrueView product since 2007. DWG TrueView 2019, 2018 and 2017 are available in 64-bit and 32-bit. Autodesk DWG Trueview 2020 is only available in 64-bit.
System requirements for the latest version include Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1803 or higher), Windows 8.1 with update KB2919355, and Windows 7 SP1.
Downloading Autodesk DWG Trueview for Windows couldn't be easier. Simple download and run the .exe and follow the on-screen instructions to extract the installation files, which takes a couple of minutes.
After extracting the files, move onto the actual install (once you've accepted the Autodesk license and services agreement). The install took about five minutes. Installation instructions in this version are only in English, although other language versions are available. Once the install is complete you can hit finish - the program will not automatically open.
What is DWG TrueView used for?
DWG is a file extension used for drawing programs, such as computer-aided design (CAD) software. DWG TrueView is aimed primarily at professionals who take input from AutoCAD DWG or DXF drawings but don't need to edit or prepare the drawings. Architects, engineers, and construction professionals are likely to find it a useful program.
TrueView can be set up to automatically open DWG and other compatible files. Alternatively, it's really easy to open files from the user interface.
Once you have opened a file, a toolbar will appear across the top of the interface that splits tools into different functions. Tools are grouped under various tabs, including basic navigation for panning, zooming, and rotating your drawing. When you hover over icons, expanding tooltips appear that offer quite extensive guidance. This is useful for new users.
Users also have options to customize the user interface using the tools under the User Interface tab. This includes displaying tiles horizontally or vertically, as well as cascading. You can also choose how you want tabs to display from the dropdown menu next to Home.
Alternatives to Autodesk DWG Trueview include DWG viewers AutoCAD Drawing Viewer, DWG Fastview, and Draftsight, which are all very user friendly. DWG DXF Converter allows users to convert DWG to DXF files.
A suite of non-editing tools
In a broad sense, all the non-editing functions that come with AutoCAD are available in DWG TrueView. These include DWG Convert, which allows users to create older DWG versions (such as AutoCAD 2000, 2004 etc.) from the current file.
The icons under the Output tab are related to plotting, such as the Plot icon, which you can use for making a paper printout. The Batch Plot icon is useful for publishing a drawing or group of drawings in DWF, DWFx, or PDF formats. It can also be used for taking a plot of a collection of drawings.
From the View tab, you can choose and set a visual style such as 2D wireframe or 3D conceptual, while AutoCAD layer operations are available under the layer tab. A particularly useful tool in DWG TrueView is the Measure tool, which allows users to measure and see any dimension of the opened drawing.
The drawing aids under Object Snap can be used to measure your drawing more precisely. These aids allow you to snap onto a specific object location when you are picking a point. Lastly, the Export function can be found under the application menu and is handy for exporting DWG or DFX files to DWF, DWFx, and PDF output files.
Limited editing functionality
By its very nature, Autodesk DWG TrueView is limited in its functionality. Anyone looking for more editing tools should consider using AutoCAD. It has industry-standard features and libraries that meet the needs of various professionals.
With AutoCAD, you can create floor plans, sections, walls, windows, doors, and other layouts. It is not as easy to use as Autodesk DWG Trueview but it has extensive help menus that have information about its tools and functions.
However, taking full advantage of the software's functions come at a high cost, with licenses costing thousands of dollars a year.
Useful additional enhancements
You can enhance DWG TrueView's capabilities by adding Design Review, another Autodesk product. This add-on extends the feature set of the DWG viewer by letting you view, mark up, print, and track changes to 2D and 3D files for free. It's particularly useful in a collaborative setting as it allows you to add comments, information, and other files.
As an alternative to DWG TrueView, Autodesk Viewer allows you to easily view and share designs in your browser rather than download software. Use it to inspect designs, create screenshots for presentations, and measure components. Files viewed in Autodesk Viewer can be shared via URL, so it is handy when working with someone who does not have Autodesk programs installed on their PC.
Best free DWG viewer
Buying individual licenses for full-featured CAD software can quickly become prohibitively expensive. Autodesk DWG Trueview provides a useful solution for those who only need to view, convert, and export DWG files and don't require design functionality.
Even though the program is easy to use for non-professionals, DWG TrueView is inevitably going to appeal most to architects, creatives, engineers, and designers.