AutoCAD for Mac

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    Chad Shaw

    OK, our firm is looking into major renovations in the IT dept. and is considering a move to Mac…, downs, likes, dislikes, or otherwise?  Let me know

    Thomas J. Johnson

    eh, good luck getting a bunch of PC people to transition to Macs… Expect a serious drop in productivity while people figure out what’s going on…(several months). If you have existing programs and processes ingrained in your corporate culture, it will be a rough transition. Kinda like taking a curling team and turning them into hockey players.

    I use both PCs and Macs. Honestly, I feel like Macs are nothing but an expensive headache. They are all looks and no action. The trophy wife of computers. More pain than they are worth. You can get 3 times the PC that you can for the price of a Mac. Would you rather have four PC work stations or two Mac work stations? A PC will run all of the software you want it to and it’s all very clear and intuitive. With a Mac, the programs all have these cutesy artsy designerly names like “toast” & “fetch” that have nothing to do with the programs functionality. Besides, do you really want to deal with the attitude of Mac people? Just because you paid more for less, does not make you superior… I don’t care if it’s white or titanium…

    When it comes to getting work done, go with a PC. If you want to surf the net, share pictures and d*(k around, go with a Mac. On that note, there is one place Macs shine and that is presentations. Plug it in to any projector and it will work. No driver installs, no reboots. It just works. Macs are the way to go for travel and presentations.

    I could see vectorworks being a really solid drafting tool. The only exposure I’ve had to it though was with a landscape design office that didn’t appear to know anything about their computers or software. There were at least 100 layers (line types) people had created in vectorworks. It was totally FUBAR. I’d already been through that once on AutoCAD PCs. I decided it wasn’t worth driving myself any crazier over and politely declined their offer. I could see setting up ten line types and having a really clean drafting system. Unlike AutoCAD you can actually see what it will look like on paper as you draw it. It’s much more like traditional drafting…

    Eric Gilbey

    Macs have many advantages for us, the first that comes to mind is its speed with graphic management. A plan redraws faster so if you make a change and go to pan to another place in your drawing, the Mac makes it feel more instantaneous while the PC might have a longer regen first. Also, the Macs are less susceptible to virus issues. Many of the mainstream office tools have a Mac version (such as Office for Mac), so the switch may be easier than you’d expect…the price might be the first noticible hurdle…but well worth the jump. You may also consider Vectorworks, which has always been a Mac based CAD program, and has worked on the PC for many years as well. It imports and exports DWG files to support your collaboration with other AutoCAD users.

    Noah Mabry



    I really think it depends on what the goals are, whats wrong with your current setup and the willingness of the people affected to make the change. Having used both my prefence if the Mac, and thats what I use at home (which until I get a realy job is where all my work is being done).


    I especially like it for any of the Adobe suite. I guess I’d say it seems more nimble. Also now that AutoCad has been released for Mac the concern over Autocad vs other cad software is probably moot. I can’t say I’ve tried it yet though so don’t take this as a flat out endorsement of it. I do most of my linework with Rhino.


    Getting back to my original point though I’d say a little more info on your company and why their making the switch would allow me to offer more useful advice. I consider myself a Mac guy, but I don’t think they’re really necessary and I’m pretty sure the standard is still PC, even most design fields.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    Thank you for the lead Henry. At $570 it looks like a promising alternative to AutoCAD. I’ll have to give it a shot.

    One thing that caught my attention and raised concerns is that there are a lot of 3rd party add-ons available. I don’t know yet whether that is due to a lack of basic functionality in Bricsys or whether they are just very industry specific plug-ins. If plug-ins are needed to get good functionality, they could add up quickly. Would still probably come in under AutoCAD though…

    Here are a few interesting ones that look like real time savers:


    Land F/X

    Andrew Spiering

    Hey Chad,

    Check out a couple blog posts I wrote on the topic here and here.  Members left a few comments that you might find helpful, as well.


    Good luck with your decision!  : )


    Thomas J. Johnson

    Even cooler than AutoCAD for Mac, “the company also plans to offer a free lightweight AutoCAD WS applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad that will enable users to view and edit AutoCAD files.”

    That would be pretty sweet… wonder if they’re going to develop a free app for the droid market…

    Chad Shaw

    The office in which we may be making the switch is small- only 2-3 designers working on the machines.  That being said,  we aren’t too concerned about problems arising from the transition.

    My concern lies in problems with a first version software on a specific operating system…it seems to me (at least on a PC) that this rarely works well without at least a few glitches.  I’m curious if anyone has experienced any technical problems.

    The ongoing battle between PC and Mac users in regards to culture/image/etc is ridiculous…I just want to make sure that we don’t get hung up on issues like file incompatibility and end up spending more time putting out fires than solving worthwhile problems.

    Matt Sprouse

    I agree that the ongoing ‘battle’ between Mac and PC is ridiculous and, in my opinion, childish.  I disagree that Macs are an expensive headache.  In the last 4 years, I have not had a single hardware or software problem with the Macs.  They have been the most stable of the machines we own.  The OS is stable far beyond anything I have experienced (expect for Linux).  The PCs are necessary tools, but are always plagued with problems.  The days I lose to IT issues are always PC related.  Macs are definitely more expensive, but in my experience they have lasted longer than the other machines, so it balances out.


    Bottom line: You use what tools you need to create the best product possible for your client. Period.  I’m the principal of a small firm (now 3 people) and by default, the IT person as well.  Within our office, we have 2 macs, several PC desktops, and a Linux server.  We run a multitude of programs and most are cross-platform.  Autocad is the ONLY program we use that is not cross platform.  Because of cost I will not be purchasing any more Autocad products.  We have held on too long as a profession to a cad program that was originally designed to draw cogs and gears for mechanical engineers.  Their entrance back into the Mac market is too late for me.  We have looked at both Vectorworks and Briscad.  Briscad should have a Mac version out in the next few months.  They have already put out a Linux version.


    If you have savvy computer users (especially young ones), your transition will be much smoother than you think.  With a small office, I think you will find some excitement about switching.  You learned Sketchup when it came out, right?  This is no different.  Focus on what tools you need to use and find the best machines to run them.  In my opinion, if a program isn’t cross platform in its programming, it is a dinosaur.  Also look at any Open Source solutions you can. There are tons of them out there: Open Office, Gimp, etc.


    Good luck with your transition.

    Thomas J. Johnson

    Yeah, I woke up on the wrong side of the PC / Mac bed yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I do love my old Powerbook G4. It’s smooth and sexy. Well, it was, before it’s hard-drive crapped out after 5 years… I also like my desktop PC that cost half as much and has twice the horse-power. It plows through large files and hasn’t given me any problems in five years.

    The only reason that Macs have been relatively free of viruses is because they only represent 3% of the market. Virus programmers want the most bang for their buck so they target PCs. If Macs become more popular, you’ll see more viruses. Keep your ant-virus up to date, scan your system regularly and back up your data. You shouldn’t have any problems.


    Scott Lebsack

    The news about AutoCAD for MAC is a couple months old… I did a writeup on my company blog regarding the offering and summarizing some of the questions I still had… I think the post gets much more into the weeds that what is being discussed above, but may prove interesting to some.

    Alec Johnson, PLA

    Chad- I spent a couple hours last night working from home on a project drawing in AutoCad for Mac. I imported a dwg I had been working on with my work PC with no difficulty. All layers, rasters and xrefs accounted for.

    The Mac interface takes a bit of getting used to, but if you can work in Cad for PC, you can work just as easily and quickly in Cad for Mac.  All the same tools, right-click functions, command line, etc. are present and exactly how you expect.

    I will transfer the saved Mac drawing back to the PC tomorrow and let you know how it goes.


    PS I like your profile picture. Is that from when you hosted that fishing show on public access? Bass Busters, right?

    Steve Mercer

    Hi Henry,

    Actually the BricsCAD/LandFX/Sketchup Pro solution is a pretty strong solution!  I am a orphaned customer of Eaglepoint’s SMI/BricsCAD/LandCADD software.  (Within 6 months Eaglepoint announced to all of the customers they sold SMI and BricsCAD/LandCADD to that they would no longer support those options anymore.  “I just needed to dash right out and buy a copy of Carlson’s SurvCE AND a copy of AutoCAD (preferrably Civil3d) and everything would be hunky dory!  Hah!  I don’t know what they are smok’in out there but it must be some good stuff!  I told those sdfkjlsdflksdjf jerks that if I had to buy all new software I would just switch to LandFX ( and keep using BricsCAD)  I am still going to have to buy SurvCE (and Carlson Desktop) -that’s 3K right there, Add LandFX, and SketchUP Pro and add another 2.5K!  But at least I will be shed of those turkeys for good!  Divorce is HELL!  Any company that treats their legacy customers like that (I had their software maybe 4 years)… buyer beware! 

    Nick Mitchell

    in my studio a lot of students praised Autocad for mac, which was short lived… I have seen nothing but problems with bigger projects among fellow students. Autocad was built for a windows based system, expect a couple more years of development from autodesk before thinking of transferring in my opinion.

    Steve Mercer

    Hi Chad,

    Your concerns are very valid! And there may be some hidden concerns you may not have considered,  First, This is not the first time that Autodesk has ventured into the Mac world,  The last time they did that they stuck a lot of users who chose the Macintosh/AutoCAD platform over the PC platform.  All of those users were forced to ditch the Mac’s and buy all new PC hardware and software.  This has already happened once.  Would you care to bet your company’s solvency on these two Vendors knowing their past history?  Second, If you are paying attention at what is going on right now with AutoDesk,  They are aggressively pushing Revit and Civil3D.  You can read discussions here on the Lounge where whole firms have switched to Revit.  There is no Mac versions of either of these platforms.  What happens if suddenly you are required to interface with a firm on Revit or Civil3D,  are you going to go buy a PC and outfit it with that software so you can do the work?  3rd, there are thousands of productivity software add-on’s written for AutoCAD on the PC.  By choosing Mac those packages are just a few so you are left to figure out your own options to problems not easily solvable by AutoCAD alone.  4th on a new platform (i.e. AutoCAD for Mac) you never want to be a first adopter,  let the large engineering firms with fat IT budgets be first adopters of the Mac platform,  If in 5 years the platform catches on fire;  Then make the jump-when things are more certain.  (by then this Revit, Civil3D push by Autodesk will either be the new standard or it will be a flop.)  If it is the new standard then, and if they have versions for the Mac and you want to make the move go for it.  Not NOW though, there is to much uncertainty and to little business to be had to be stepping out on a limb!  I am very aware of the Mac appeal (and it’s capabilities),  I made my living selling Macs & PC’s (and AutoCAD) to corporate America and Computer Graphics departments across this nation for 10 years.  If you make this decision to move to the Mac now you will find yourself on the bleeding edge, (they don’t call it the bleeding edge for nothing)  Buyer beware!  Best wishes regardless of which direction you choose!



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