AutoCAD For Mac has come a long way and nowadays not much separates it from the Windows version. The lack of 3D rendering in the Mac version and native M1 chip support is disappointing but if you want the industry standard in 2D and 3D CAD design, AutoCAD for Mac still can't be beat.
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
Now works natively on Apple Silicon M1/M2 chips
Some Windows features missing such as cloud Drawing History & 3D Rendering
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.
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.
As mentioned earlier however, 3D rendering is not available in AutoCAD for Mac even though the latest M1 Macs are more than capable of it.
When you open AutoCAD For Mac 2024, 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 2022 was completely 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 now very similar to 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 2024 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.
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.
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 For Mac 2024 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.
AutoCAD For Mac 2024 Improvements
AutoCAD For Mac 2024 is definitely the fastest and most responsive version of AutoCAD yet.
The biggest improvement has been support for Apple Silicon M1 and M2 chips which make it up to twice as fast as previous versions of AutoCAD For Mac according to Autodesk.
This makes it forward compatible with all Apple Silicon chips including the even faster M3 chip expected to be released by Apple around Summer or Fall 2023.
The last iOS version of AutoCAD 2023 was already updated with the AutoCAD Core Engine so the iPad version of AutoCAD is now far more powerful and useful than previous versions although there are fewer improvements in AutoCAD for iOS 2024.
Now that AutoCAD Core Engine is fully compatible with both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs, Autodesk is now able to push updates to both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs far more easily.
AutoCAD For Mac 2024 increases AutoCAD integration with the Cloud.
One of the best Cloud features in AutoCAD For Mac 2024 is 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 including 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 2024 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 2024 is also available in Spanish and Italian for the first time.
Chinese is also available although this was introduced for the first time in AutoCAD 2023 to satisfy demand for AutoCAD in the rapidly growing CAD market in China.
Other improvements to AutoCAD 2024 For Mac include:
Autodesk Trace which simulates using tracing paper over drawings or blueprints to allow designers to copy and make suggested changes. CAD designers can add markup on Trace and see it in context so they can make any responses to it in the DWG file. Autodesk Trace works in real time so any changes made in the field will be seen instantly back in the office. Autodesk Trace is new to both the Windows and Mac desktop version of AutoCAD this year and works both on web and mobile.
AutoCAD for Mac 2024 features a count tool which automatically counts blocks or geometry to save time and reduce errors. You can count blocks in an entire blueprint or within a specific user-defined area.
You can now Share drawings, sketches and blueprints including XREFS and images with anyone from within AutoCAD for Mac including to those using the web app. You can also control the level of shared access such as “view-only” or grant editing privileges depending on who you are sending it to. This works much better that the old XTRANSMIT command in AutoCAD and is easier to use with far more control over sharing.
A new CUTBASE Command allows you to copy objects to the clipboard and define a specified base point if you want to remove them from a drawing or blueprint.
A new 3D Graphics Engine to leverage the GPU and CPU power in the new multi-core Macs which makes it faster to work with large blueprints. Effects, lines and curves now appear much clearer in AutoCAD For Mac and it enables enhanced selection and highlighting tools.
Markup Import and Markup Assist which already existed in the Windows version of AutoCAD have now been added to the Mac version too. Machine learning in AutoCAD helps you to view and insert drawing revisions with less manual revisions. Markups can be imported in PDF, PNG and JPG format and can overlay a photograph or scan of a blueprint. Markup Assist allows you to insert markups into drawings as geometry and can automatically detect texts like move, copy and delete.
In both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT there have also been improvements in workflows to the placement of Smart Blocks which now automatically places blocks based on the positions of previous blocks placed.
These improvements enhance the additions made to AutoCAD 2022 which included:
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 has added more features to it in AutoCAD 2024.
You can create and edit AutoCAD files in AutoCAD web and 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 For Mac 2024 Pricing
AutoCAD is only available on a subscription basis as there is no standalone version anymore.
You can’t buy standalone versions of any Autodesk products anymore as they are no longer available with ongoing perpetual licenses.
A subscription starts at $245 per month for AutoCAD paid monthly or you can save 34% by paying $1,955 annually.
Note that Autodesk also offers “Flex” pricing for AutoCAD 2024 which is based on a “pay-as-you-go” pricing model. For example, $1,500 gets you 500 uses of AutoCAD which can be used over 71 days in any one year.
For most users, it’s much more economical to buy a subscription but if you just need to use AutoCAD For Mac on an occasional basis it might be worth it.
A subscription for AutoCAD LT starts at $60 per month but there’s no Flex pricing option for it.
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.
If you’re a regular user of AutoCAD then a subscription has always worked out much better value than the old option of Flex tokens which have been dropped now and were only designed for occasional use.
A subscription to both AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT also includes access to the AutoCAD web app and AutoCAD mobile app which work in a browser on any Mac.
One of the other 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.
AutoCAD vs AutoCAD LT
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.