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AutoCAD For Mac has come a long way and nowadays not much separates it from the Windows version. If you want the industry standard in 2D and 3D CAD design, AutoCAD for Mac still can't be beat.
Pros:
Big performance improvements due to Autodesk Core Engine
Slicker, cleaner interface than the Windows version
Integrated with AutoCAD Web
Xref compare makes it easier to track changes stored in cloud solutions
Supports Trackpad gestures
Subscription inlcudes access to excellent iOS version
Cons:
Some Windows features missing such as cloud Drawing History
No native M1 Mac version (yet) although still works on M1 Macs
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AutoCAD for Mac is one of the best CAD software for Mac and in this review, we take a closer look at what it can do.

AutoCAD has easily been one the most dominant Windows CAD applications on the market for years but it wasn’t until many years later that Autodesk finally released AutoCAD for Mac.

AutoCAD For Mac 2022 is still an industry leading CAD software for architects and designers and one of the most widely used CAD programs on the market.

The success of AutoCAD is partly because it’s so powerful but also because it’s relatively user friendly for such a complex 2D and 3D CAD program.

In the early days of AutoCAD For Mac, the macOS version wasn’t quite as good as the Windows edition, but nowadays it’s almost exactly the same on all platforms.

However, there are some limitations to the Mac version of this incredibly powerful CAD application as we found in our review of AutoCAD for Mac 2022.

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Does AutoCAD Work Well On A Mac?

In terms of performance though, AutoCAD For Mac 2022 runs just as well on Intel Macs as it does on a Windows PC.

However, although AutoCAD works on the latest Apple Silicon M1 Macs, it currently has to use Rosetta in order to work with the M1 chip and this sometimes causes a slow down in performance (see more on this below).

Does AutoCAD Work On M1 Macs?

At the moment, AutoCAD is not compatible with the latest Apple Silicon M1 chip Macs including the M1 Max and M1 Pro Macs.

Autodesk has stated that it is working on an M1 Mac compatible version of AutoCAD and it’s likely we’ll see it released in 2022.

At the moment, you can still use AutoCAD on an M1 Mac though thanks to Rosetta which “translates” Intel only software to work with the M1 chip.

There are drawbacks to this though as because it’s being translated “on the fly”, you may sometimes experience slower performance although generally, it works pretty well.

AutoCAD For Mac System Requirements

The exact system requirements for AutoCAD For Mac 2022 are below.

Although Autodesk doesn’t state it in the official system requirements for AutoCAD For Mac, it does work with the latest version of macOS including macOS Monterey.

System requirements for AutoCAD LT for Mac 2022
Operating SystemApple® macOS® Big Sur v11 (requires Update 2021.1)
Apple® macOS® Catalina v10.15
Apple macOS Mojave v10.14
Apple macOS High Sierra v10.13
ModelBasic: Apple Mac Pro® 4.1, MacBook Pro® 5.1, iMac® 8.1, Mac mini® 3.1, MacBook Air®, MacBook® 5.1
Recommended: Apple Mac® models supporting Metal Graphics Engine
Apple Mac models with M series chip are supported under Rosetta 2 mode.
CPU Type64-bit Intel CPU
Recommended: Intel Core i7 or higher
MemoryBasic: 4GB
Recommended: 8GB or higher
Display ResolutionBasic: 1280 x 800 display
High Resolution: 2880 x 1800 with Retina Display
Disk Space3 GB free disk space for download and installation
Pointing DeviceApple-compliant Mouse, Apple-compliant Trackpad, Microsoft-compliant mouse
Display CardRecommended: Mac native installed graphics cards
Disk FormatAPFS, APFS(Encrypted), Mac OS Extended (Journaled), Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted)

AutoCAD For Mac vs AutoCAD For Windows

Initially, the early versions of AutoCAD weren’t as complete as the Windows version of AutoCAD.

AutoCAD 2022 For Mac has come a long way though and is now very similar to the Windows version.

However, there are still some interface differences and features missing.

In terms of file formats, AutoCAD for Mac creates files in the same DWG format as AutoCAD for Windows and can do pretty much anything AutoCAD for Windows can do in both 2D and 3D.

The most notable difference though is the interface which has been customized for macOS including Dark Mode, Coverflow navigation, Multiview and Touch Bar support.

autocad for mac review - autocad 2021

The Classic AutoCAD interface with toolbars is only available in the Windows version of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

Drawing History, which traces the history of changes made in AutoCAD files saved in Box, DropBox and OneDrive, is also not available in the Mac version of AutoCAD.

autocad mac - drawing history

Other things that are not available in the Mac version of AutoCAD include:

  • Extract object data to tables.
  • Share and use data from DGN files, Navisworks and Bing Maps.
  • Apply and monitor CAD standards.
  • Access to specialized toolsets for architecture, mechanical design, electrical design and more

If any of these missing features are deal breakers for you, your only other option is to run Windows on a Mac and install the Windows version of AutoCAD.

However, while this works well for 2D design, if you’re going to need AutoCAD for 3D design, it may not run very well as it requires a lot of processing power and ideally an eGPU too.

We’d also recommend using AutoCAD on an iMac rather than a MacBook Pro too.

The main reason for this is the display is much bigger which makes it easier for doing complex CAD designs. And although AutoCAD For Mac 2022 now supports Trackpad gestures on MacBook Pros, it can be very tricky compared to using a mouse.

AutoCAD For Mac Features

AutoCAD is available in two editions – AutoCAD For Mac LT for 2D designs and AutoCAD For Mac which supports both 2D and 3D modelling.

Both are very similar in features but the LT lacks the 3D modelling and some of the more advanced tools of the full version of AutoCAD.

If you don’t need 3D modelling, AutoCAD LT is 75% cheaper than the full version of AutoCAD and excellent value for money for a 2D CAD tool on this level.

You can see how AutoCAD compares vs AutoCAD LT below.

autocad lt vs autocad

AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT

The full version of AutoCAD for Mac supports 3D design, 3D printing and 2D drafting software with and includes XREF path mapping, select Express tools and PDF enhancements.

In particular, the 3D rendering in AutoCAD for Mac produces probably some of the most stunning results you’ll see in any CAD software on a Mac.

When you open AutoCAD For Mac 2022, the first thing that strikes you is how modern and clean the User Interface looks. For those used to AutoCAD for Windows, it can take some getting used to but the new interface is far more suited to macOS.

autocad for mac 2021

AutoCAD on an M1 Mac

AutoCAD For Mac 2022 has been rewritten around the AutoCAD Core Engine (ACE) which is now in all versions of AutoCAD and part of the reason why AutoCAD for Mac is just as powerful as AutoCAD on PC.

The development of AutoCAD is no longer limited to different platforms as anything that is updated and improved in the AutoCAD Core Engine is immediately pushed out to work on all platforms including macOS, Windows, mobile and web.

Some of the powerful features this has introduced include dynamic blocks to add flexibility and intelligence to block references, dynamic links to Excel documents and a layer state manager so you can save layer settings.

The latest version of AutoCAD 2022 also makes it easier to switch between Office and Home environments.

Many CAD designers use two monitors at work and one at home and the latest version allows you to control or hide the positioning of palettes depending on whether you’re working on one monitor or two.

autocad for mac

Another big improvement has been the introduction of the Command Alias Editor into AutoCAD.

Many AutoCAD designers on Windows are used to using keyboard shortcuts and AutoCAD for Mac supports this in macOS too.

You can create hotkeys for your most used commands making your workflow quicker and easier than before.

autocad keyboard shortcuts

Combined with the TouchBar support introduced in the previous version of AutoCAD for Mac, you can seriously speed-up your workflow without having to use the TouchPad or mouse all the time.

autocad touchbar mac

AutoCAD For Mac 2022 even supports Gestures on the trackpad for improved productivity so that you can use two finger swipes and thumb claw pinches as you work to speed things up.

You can also now convert 3D to 2D using AutoCAD on Mac. The flatten tool in AutoCAD for Mac retains original layers, linetypes, colors and object types.

cad for mac - autocad 2018 flatten

AutoCAD For Mac 2022 Improvements

AutoCAD For Mac 2022 is definitely the fastest and most responsive version of AutoCAD yet.

The iOS version of AutoCAD 2022 has also now been updated with the AutoCAD Core Engine so the iPad version of AutoCAD is now far more powerful and useful than previous versions.

Unfortunately, AutoCAD Core Engine still isn’t compatible with M1 Macs but when it is, Autodesk will be able to push updates to both Intel and M1 Macs far more easily.

The Cloud features in AutoCAD For Mac 2022 include Design Automation. This means that to a certain extent, AutoCAD can automatically design based even when you’re away from your Mac or workstation.

It also includes Autodesk Ray Tracer (ART) which is an incredibly fast, physically based render that works in Autodesk products inlcuding AutoCAD, 3DS Max, Inventor Professional and Revit.

AutoCAD is also now better integrated with other cloud storage services such as Google Drive.

Among other things, Autodesk Ray Tracer renders lighting realistically including how sunlight and artificial sunlight reflects off materials.

The Purge command has been improved in AutoCAD For Mac and will now give you information on non-purgable items in Blocks, Layers, Text Styles and explain why they can’t be purged.

autocad for mac - purge

AutoCAD 2022 For Mac also has Xref Compare which is very useful for those CAD professionals remote working as it notifies you of any changes made on file versions stored in the Cloud such as Dropbox.

There have also been changes to the Blocks Palette which now allows you to drag a block out using the Scale or Rotation checkboxes.

AutoCAD For Mac is also now available in Chinese for the first time to satisfy demand for AutoCAD in the rapidly growing CAD market in China.

Other improvements to AutoCAD 2022 For Mac include:

  • Flexibility With Enhanced Block Libraries
  • Sort and Manage Blocks With Improvements
  • Export Layouts Directly to a new DWG File
  • Quickly Repeat Commands With Recent Input

AutoCAD Web vs AutoCAD For Mac

You can also access AutoCAD in any browser via AutoCAD Web although it’s not as functional as the desktop version of AutoCAD on a Mac or PC desktop.

However, the increased use of AutoCAD during the Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic means that Autodesk are likely to add more features to it in 2022.

You can however create and edit AutoCAD files in AutoCAD web it’s free to use, even if you’re not an AutoCAD subscriber.

This makes it very useful for sharing AutoCAD blueprints with non-AutoCAD users or subscribers.

autocad web

AutoCAD For Mac Pricing

AutoCAD is only available on a subscription basis as there is no standalone version anymore.

AutoCAD subscriptions start at $210 per month, $1,690 annually or $4,565 for a three year subscription.

Autodesk do often run special promotions on products throughout the year so if you time it right, you may be able to get a discount.

One of the advantages for companies is that an AutoCAD subscription allows them to administer licenses across multiple Macs and workstations.

A subscription also includes technical support and access to older versions of AutoCAD if needed for testing at customer sites.

It also means that you’re entitled to use new versions of AutoCAD For Mac when they’re released without having to pay for major upgrades.

If you only need AutoCAD for 2D CAD design on your Mac, you’re better off getting AutoCAD LT For Mac which is much cheaper but only supports 2D CAD.

AutoCAD LT is 75% cheaper than the full version of AutoCAD and excellent value for money for a 2D CAD tool on this level.

The full version of AutoCAD however supports both 3D and 2D design so you are getting more for your money.

Note that you can’t buy standalone versions of any Autodesk products anymore as they are no longer available with ongoing perpetual licenses.

Can You Get AutoCAD For Mac For Free?

You can get AutoCAD For Mac for free with an educational license which entitles students and teachers to free one year educational access to AutoCAD.

If you’re not entitled to an educational license, you can also try a free trial of AutoCAD For Mac.

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