Best Free DWG Viewer: View AutoCAD Files for Free
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AutoCAD is widely used by architects, engineers, and designers, and as a result, many 2D designs are presented in AutoCAD file formats (DWG, DXF, and DWF). In order to interact with these 2D drafts, customers, teammates, and hobbyists often require free DWG viewers.
If you encounter a DWG file, you don’t necessarily need AutoCAD to open it. Instead, you can use a free DWG viewer to view and annotate the design.
Many free DWG viewers offer additional features such as measuring, converting file formats, and even modifying, editing, and creating models. Some freeware options are even as effective as AutoCAD.
This is ideal – especially since buying AutoCAD’s cheapest version (AutoCAD LT) costs $322 per year, while AutoCAD’s full version will set you back $1492 yearly. So, to save you money, we’ll cover the best free DWG viewers in this article.
Considerations for Choosing the Best Free DWG Viewer
We have put the best free DWG viewers in four categories:
- Free Online DWG Viewers: these software are excellent for immediately viewing DWG, DXF, or other CAD files. You can view, print, and annotate designs with them. You can access them on any device, anywhere. The best free online DWG viewers are ShareCAD, Allinpdf, Groupdocs, and Autodesk Viewer.
- Free Offline DWG Viewers: it takes time to download and install these software. But, you’ll get powerful offline software to view DWG files on your computer. You can measure distances and areas using the software in this category. Our best free offline DWG Viewer section includes Bentley View, AutoDesk TrueView, and Design Review.
- Free Online DWG Viewer/Editor: you may need software that can do more than view the DWG files. So, our online DWG Viewer/Design section presents advanced software to view, modify, and make DWG files. Onshape Free and Fusion 360 are in this category.
- Free Offline DWG Viewer/Editor: this category comprises free DWG viewers to run offline, and modify or design DWG files. This section contains LibreCAD and DoubleCAD.
Before discussing the best free DWG viewers, let’s discuss AutoCAD file types and their differences, first.
What Are AutoCAD File Formats?
AutoCAD is capable of importing and exporting various file types from other programs, but also has three proprietary file formats that are specific to AutoCAD: DWG, DXF, and DWF.
These file formats are trademarked by AutoCAD and are widely used in the CAD industry. Many other CAD software are also able to import or export DWG and DXF files, due to AutoCAD’s widespread use and recognition in the industry.
DWG file format stores the design data in binary code (0s and 1s), while DXF stores the data in ASCII code (character strings). DWG is better optimized, and is the most used drawing file format in AutoCAD.
Meanwhile, DWF files are the most compact and suitable for sharing through the web. However, you can’t edit DWF files in AutoCAD. To give you a metaphor, DWF is to DWG what PDF is to Microsoft Word.
So, DWG is the most common AutoCAD file since it’s smaller than DXF, while still compatible with all of the design tools.
Now that we know AutoCAD files, it’s time to open them for free. So, this is a list of the best free DWG viewers around.
Best Free Online DWG Viewers
Our criteria for the best free DWG viewers in this category are whether you have to sign up, compatible file formats, and other capabilities.
ShareCAD is the best free DWG viewer if your file is not unusually large. It’s web-based, so you can view files anywhere on any device without installation. But, what makes it great is that you don’t even have to sign up!
Just visit here, and drag and drop your file. Done! The only disadvantage is that you can’t import files larger than 50 MB.
ShareCAD supports many CAD file types, 3D files, vector files, raster files, and even archive files.
- CAD formats include: DWG, DXF, DWF, HPGL, and PLT.
- 3D formats include STL, Parasolid®, SolidWorks®, STEP, IPT, OBJ, and more.
The icing on the cake is you can embed ShareCAD on your website with one line of code to open CAD files.
Allinpdf is also one of the best free DWG viewers. It’s web-based, so you can use any device. Plus, you don’t need to download or install anything.
The best part is you don’t have to sign up or confirm your email. You can visit the Allinpdf DWG viewer here, and instantly open any DWG file.
So far, Allinpdf has all of ShareCAD’s benefits, but without a file size limit.
However, Allinpdf’s DWG viewer only supports DWG and DXF files, while ShareCAD opens many other file formats.
Allinpdf also allows you to save your DWG file as a high-quality PDF. Then, you can easily print the plot, zoom, and keep the original quality.
Also, don’t worry about opening confidential DWG files with Allinpdf. The services are secure: they instantly delete your file after you’ve finished. Plus, they’ll delete the converted PDF file after 30 minutes without allowing anyone else access to the file.
Groupdocs offers a collection of handy document tools and viewers. Although most of their tools are unrelated to CAD or DWG files, they also offer a free DWG viewer.
Groupdocs’ greatest benefit is that you don’t have to sign up to use their tools. Just visit their website and get instant access to their many tools. These tools include viewer apps (including the DWG viewer we’re interested in), converter, merger, splitter, signature, assembler, and parser tools.
Groupdocs’ viewer apps open the most widely used file formats: for example, you can open Microsoft Word or PDF documents with them to create watermarks or passwords. You can add watermarks to documents, extract images, translate texts, or split the file into various file formats.
Groupdocs also offers their tools for free download, but they are only compatible with Windows.
You can sign up for Autodesk Viewer here. It’s free and it can view most 2D and 3D files, so you can open DWG, DXF, and DWF files with Autodesk Viewer, plus SolidWorks, Revit, STL, F3D, IPT, and a lot more.
Autodesk Viewer is web-based so you don’t need to install anything, and you can access it on all devices.
Autodesk Viewer is robust, so we don’t expect to encounter inconsistencies with the authoring DWG software.
Best Offline Free DWG Viewers
Our criteria for this category are navigation experience, measurements, robustness, and consistency.
However, the programs in this category have large sizes. So, if you prefer a light offline software to view DWG files, we recommend LibreCAD.
Bentley View is the best free DWG Viewer in terms of viewing features. This CAD viewer comes from a distinguished company: Bentley make many well-known engineering software, including MicroStation (an advanced CAD software).
Bentley View supports over 50 file formats including their in-house file types (like MicroStation’s DGN). It can also read AutoCAD files (DWG and DXF) with ease.
Bentley View is excellent for navigating models. You can dynamically explore 3D models by slicing through them. You can also measure distances, surface areas, and more with Bentley View.
You can also change the model’s display based on particular objects. For example, you can base the display on an object’s slope.
Also, Bentley View lets you use your touchscreen to zoom and navigate models if you have a touchscreen laptop.
However, Bentley View’s large size can be a deal-breaker, taking up 3GB+ on your hard drive. Although Bentley View is better than AutoCAD’s free viewers, it’s also the largest-sized DWG viewer on the list.
DWG TrueView is Autodesk’s free file converter. Although it’s not the best free DWG viewer, it has some unique features.
DWG TrueView requires a 1GB download to install it, and it’s only compatible with Windows. Another limitation is that DWG TrueView only supports DWG and DXF files.
Although you can use DWG TrueView to view any DWG file, its main job is to convert DWG from AutoCAD’s different versions. Basically, you can convert new AutoCAD files to open them with older AutoCAD versions.
Plus, since DWG TrueView is Autodesk’s official DWG converter, it assures compatibility with all DWG files from any AutoCAD version.
Autodesk Design Review
Autodesk has made Design Review to start where DWG TrueView left off. For example, Design Review interacts with more file types than TrueView. It supports DWG, DXF, DWF, PDF, and images. However, you should also install DWG TrueView to view DXF files with Design Review.
Design Review can measure 2D and 3D designs. It can measure areas, parts, and dimensions, and you can even annotate and comment using Design Review.
However, Design Review’s coolest feature is that you can track design changes without having the original design software. This makes collaboration between designers and customers or teammates easier since they can track how feedback has resulted in design changes.
Best Online Free DWG Viewer/Editor
This category has advanced 3D software with parametric modeling. You can also view and modify DWG files with them.
Onshape Free is an excellent tool for a designer to view DWG files on the go, however, it’s not right for confidential files (as we’ll explain).
Onshape Free is more than a free DWG viewer, it’s also a decent and capable free CAD. Onshape Free doesn’t stop at 2D drawings with DWG and DXF files, you can also create advanced 3D models with it. You can learn more about this in our Onshape vs SolidWorks guide, where we compare the features that each software offers.
Plus, since Onshape Free is web-based, you can create CAD files on any device without license issues and installations.
Therefore, Onshape Free is an excellent tool for viewing DWG or DXF files and maybe even making changes to them.
There is something unique about Onshape Free: it saves your design files for future access. On one hand, this is an advantage since it also gives team members instant cloud access to the file.
However, the file automatically becomes public on Onshape Free – only the paid version allows you to restrict who sees the file. So, if you’re viewing confidential files, or designs with intellectual property issues, this is a no go for the free version.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is one of the most advanced free DWG viewers on the list. You can also edit and modify DWG files with Fusion 360.
Fusion 360 is versatile: it’s a capable 3D modeling CAD and it also has advanced CAM tools. This makes it a popular software among 3D printer operators and CNCers.
But, you can also use it to view DWG files, and there’s a free Fusion 360 add-on for importing DXF files. Fusion 360 also supports many other CAD files including STL, Auto desk Inventor (IPT), SolidWorks (SLDPRT), OBJ, and many more file formats.
Although Fusion 360 works online, it only runs on Windows and macOS. Fusion 360 requires a computer since it uses the cloud in parallel to your own graphics processor. It’s also only free for hobbyists, students, and businesses earning below certain revenue levels – so if you’re more commercial, you may have to pay.
Offline Free DWG Viewer/Editor
This category is excellent for creating 2D designs on your computer. LibreCAD is a light offline software, while DoubleCAD is AutoCAD LT’s alternative.
LibreCAD is an excellent downloadable tool for viewing and editing 2D DWG files. It’s a much smaller file size than others like Bentley, Autodesk TrueView, and Design Review.
LibreCAD supports Windows, macOS, and Linux. Plus, LibreCAD is open-source, so don’t worry about signing up or copying and distributing it.
You can also model 2D drawings with LibreCAD. While it doesn’t offer 3D modeling like Onshape Free and Fusion 360, it’s super easy to 2D CAD design with LibreCAD.
Therefore, you can use LibreCAD to open, view, and edit DWG files for free. It’s also offline, so you can run it without an internet connection.
DoubleCAD is the best free DWG viewer if you are familiar with AutoCAD, as it’s an excellent alternative to AutoCAD LT, but free! Even the menus, command lines, and cursor are similar to AutoCAD.
Therefore, you can create any drafts that you could make with AutoCAD LT since you have a plethora of line, curve, spline tools, and more at your disposal.
Some of DoubleCAD’s tools are even better than AutoCAD LT. For example, you can define lines, arcs, or circles tangent or perpendicular to another entity without having to change snap settings.
Being AutoCAD LT’s best free alternative, it’s no surprise that LibreCAD also works with AutoCAD file types (DWG, DXF, and DWF files). Therefore, you can use it as a free DWG viewer as well.
DoubleCAD is especially excellent for architecture and interior designers since it offers unique tools like self-healing walls.
It’s easy to view and even edit AutoCAD files for free. AutoCAD file formats include DWG, DXF, and DWF. Many DWG viewers can open all of these file formats and some more.
Free online DWG viewers are best if you want to view a DWG file in the shortest time and on any device. The best online free DWG viewers are ShareCAD, Allinpdf, Groupdocs, and Autodesk Viewer.
Offline DWG viewers are excellent for collaboration between the designer and the customer (or the teammate). They allow measuring and viewing the plots from different perspectives. The best offline free DWG viewers are Bentley View, Autodesk TrueView, and Autodesk Design Review.
Online DWG viewers with editing tools suit designers who want to modify or design a file on the go. The best free online DWG viewers with editing tools are Onshape Free and Fusion 360.
Finally, offline DWG editors are excellent for architects, interior designers, and people who frequently work with 2D drafts from the same device. LibreCAD and DoubleCAD are the best free DWG viewers with edit tools to run offline.