Industry-leading CAD design software
AutoCAD is an industry-leading program for computer-aided design (CAD). CAD is valuable for architects, engineers, and construction professionals, who can use it to reliably create precision 2D and 3D drawings. AutoCAD is the flagship for CAD software, the standard tool that drafters or architects call upon for computerized assistance in drawing up plans for buildings. That said, AutoCAD has many more uses than solely putting together blueprints.
For anyone with an eye for design, AutoCAD proves a valuable asset for getting graphic design concepts off the ground. Popularity translates to reliability in the construction and engineering professions, and now, AutoCAD finally entering the Mac market speaks volumes about the product’s demand. Everything available on the Windows variant can be found on Mac, and AutoCAD’s sleek interface complements the platform well. For a similar alternative, check out SolidWorks, Fusion 360, CAD.Plus and CAD Studio.
Thin the line between concept and reality
AutoCAD supports a plethora of features, from 3D modeling and visualization, 2D drafting, drawing and annotation, collaboration perks that share and reuse data from both PDF and DGN files, and a widely customizable user interface. AutoCAD for Mac takes a good amount of free hard drive space - about 2.5 GB. If you’re using your Mac for professional purposes, however, it’s worth the space as this program will do much of your heavy lifting.
The program is primarily used in the designing of blueprints for building, bridges, and roads. It’s even likely that the house or apartment you’re living in was designed using some variant of CAD software. AutoCAD is an invaluable tool that makes it possible for a designer to put ideas into motion, quickly making ideas tangible, all while realizing roadblocks before they can impede progress.
AutoCAD for Mac takes the software to the next level, making the interface slick and intuitive. It takes full advantage of OS X, enabling designers to fully utilize Cover Flow, Multi-Touch gestures, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. Just like on Windows, Mac users can create and edit DWG files natively, converting them from PDF, and can collaborate on projects across platforms with customers, clients, and colleagues.
Once AutoCAD drawings are complete, their measurements can be followed to create tangible items that fit together precisely. Mechanical Engineers will find AutoCAD particularly useful, as it can help with designing a diverse range of tools; everything from an air conditioner to a spacecraft shuttle starts off as a blueprint. Anything drawn with AutoCAD is fully compatible with 3D printers and CNC machines.
AutoCAD vs SolidWorks
AutoCAD is a popular CAD tool, but it isn’t the only one on the market. SolidWorks is a good alternative that is often compared with AutoCAD. The decision to use whichever software comes down to where each specializes. Though both are CAD apps, both SolidWorks and AutoCAD cater to slightly different markets.
AutoCAD is primarily for 2D projects, with its 3D capabilities being limited. Whereas, Softwares like SolidWorks or Fusion 360 are more common workhorses for 3D modeling. By contrast, SolidWorks falls short when it comes to 2D modeling. While Solidworks does offer some schemes and tools for it, if your project has a strong 2D foundation, AutoCAD is the better option. AutoCAD also supports more industry-specific software (i.e. AutoCAD Electrical and Architecture) so has a strong, albeit niche, angle.
What are AutoCAD features?
What makes AutoCAD really stand out from the competition, though, is the sheer number of features it provides. While the purpose of the software might be niche, AutoCAD excels at what it offers, and guarantees to have any tool related to design. Now that it’s available on Mac, this includes an improved connected experience across all platforms and Autodesk products.
Using the AutoCAD web app, you can now view, create, annotate, and edit drawings from anywhere. You can use AutoCAD just as easily from the web browser of your Mac laptop, or opt to instead use the AutoCAD web app. Any platform on which you elect to use the software can streamline workflow with specialized toolsets, saving you time and resources.
As for the features themselves, AutoCAD enables users to create single or multi-line texts as a single file object, allowing for specific columns and boundaries. You can also format leader lines, define styles, centerlines, and center marks wherever you choose. Center marks can even be set to automatically move when you relocate the associated object.
Tables can house data and symbols in rows and columns, and you can apply formulas or link to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for more complexity. Revision clouds can be further drawn around new changes in a drawing, providing quick update alerts, and you can save views by name to easily return to specific references or apply a layout viewport.
Layouts can be sized to your drawing sheet, and you can add title blocks or display multiple views of your model, and fields in text objects can be set to display text that’s automatically updated as its value changes. For those familiar with AutoCAD on Windows, the commands and tools are virtually the same on Mac.
The downside of this is that if you’ve been a Mac user for years and have therefore not used AutoCAD before, you’re in for a steep learning curve. Thankfully the interface and iconography do much of the heavy lifting, and there’s extensive documentation and context-sensitive operations that can guide you if you’re lost in a sea of unfamiliar menus and buttons.
While dipping your toes into the new waters of a strange new software can be daunting, AutoCAD is worth the effort. Across seven studies, average productivity was increased by 63% for tasks completed using specialized tools in AutoCAD. It saves effort and time with functions like attaching and viewing Navisworks and BIM 360 Glue models directly in the software, or by importing geometry from PDF as an AutoCAD object ready to be edited.
A powerful CAD tool you can rely on
AutoCAD thins the line between design and application, expediting and simplifying the design process. AutoCAD has been around since 1982, making it older than most current Revit and Fusion users. Over this time the software has been used by engineers, interior designers, real estate developers, and architects all across the globe. Althought it’s an expensive tool, will take up a sizable chunk of hard drive space, but if your job involves 2D designs, then it’s worth the download.