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    By Dennis Collin  

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    AutoCAD versioning can at times pose problems for those who have received a drawing file which has been created in a more recent version of AutoCAD than the one they are using. Having to then locate someone in the office who has the one copy of the latest AutoCAD to convert the file becomes somewhat of a tedious task. There is an alternative to this and more importantly it’s FREE… My colleague Dennis has detailed a step by step guide in how to achieve this.

    I often get asked the question about AutoCAD not being able to open drawings created in newer versions. Every few years Autodesk changes the DWG file format to accommodate new features. AutoCAD obviously has a function where you can back save a file to older formats, but if you are a recipient of a newer AutoCAD file format and do not own that version of AutoCAD, how do you convert the drawing back to a useable form? Well one option is to upgrade or purchase a new copy of AutoCAD, but there is another free solution using Autodesk DWG Trueview. This is a free viewer application which can be downloaded and installed from: https://www.autodesk.com/products/dwg/viewers

    Choose the Trueview option (not the free web viewer).

    Once installed the application will create the following icon on your desktop:

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    This application lets you view, print and convert drawings to older formats. It looks just like AutoCAD, but you cannot create or edit drawings just view, print and convert them to older formats.

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    This DWGconvert function is located on the main application menu.


    Running the command initiates a dialogue, which is very similar to the Etransmit command in AutoCAD which can batch process drawings for issue.

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    Select the files you want to process and choose the ultimate destination format from a standard list of formats, or if you do need to set some bespoke options choose the conversion setup option.

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    Notable options include options to preserve annotation style functionality, the purging of unused styles, removing and resetting plotter definitions and the binding (localising) of external reference files (Xrefs).


    This is very useful and is an essential application for users that need to work with drawings, but not edit or create them. It also contains the ‘AutoCAD’ plot engine which is great if you wish to convert DWGs to PDF format.