Viewing AutoCAD DWG Files

DWG files are the standard format that AutoCAD uses to save drawings. They contain all the drawing information, including information not needed to simply browse the image.

There are several ways to view DWG files on the web. Some of the DWG viewers listed here are free, while some of the DWG viewers you can purchase offer free trials. Most of these products do not support viewing DWG files in your web browser. You may need to save the DWG file on your local machine and open it in a stand-alone program. We haven't tested all of these products.

Autodesk used to provide a free version of Volo View called Volo View Express that would show DWG files. Autodesk no longer distributes Volo View or Volo View Express and it's likely it the last versions they distributed do not work with DWG files created by the latest versions of AutoCAD.

Free DWG Viewers

  • Brava! Free DWG Viewer from Informative Graphics. This viewer is a good choice as it integrates with your web browser and is a relatively small download.
  • DWG TrueView is a free DWG (and DXF) viewer from Autodesk, the developer of DWG format. DWG TrueView is a relatively large download (about 125 megs), and has more features than you are likely to need for simply viewing DWG files. As a subset of AutoCAD itself, DWG TrueView is likely to give the best possible rendering and plotting of DWG files. True View replaces the older Autodesk DWF Composer product. While DWG TrueView is supposed to open the DWF inside Internet Explorer, at this time our tests show only a completely white browser window. If you save a DWG file to your local machine, then you can open it and view it with DWG TrueView.
  • Bentley View from Bentley is a free DWG and DGN viewer. Registration is required, it's a large download (60 megs), and has more features than you are likely to need for simply viewing simple DWG files.

DWG Viewers You Can Purchase

  • SoftSource Vdraft has a web browser plug-in called AutoCAD/DXF Plug-in. While there is a free version, it appears as though they only support DWG files up through those made with AutoCAD 2000 and not current versions of AutoCAD. See their price and ordering information.
  • Cyco Software's AutoManager View can browse DWG and many other formats.
  • Kamel Software's Fastlook Plus can browse DWG and many other formats.
  • If you have AutoCAD itself installed, then you can use AutoCAD as an application external to your web browser to open and view the DWG file.
    • When you click on a .DWG with Internet Explorer, it should give you the option of saving the file to disk, or opening it. Assuming you have AutoCAD installed, choose "Open", unless you have a need to save the DWG file to your disk. Choosing "Open" should start AutoCAD and display the map.
    • When you click on a .DWG with Netscape 4.x, you may only have the option to save it to disk. Also, if the filename extension of the file to save is not listed as DWG, then change it to DWG. Once saved to disk with the DWG extension, you can start AutoCAD and open it from your hard disk like any other AutoCAD drawing.


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