New AutoCAD File Format For 2018

The release of AutoCAD 2018 saw the introduction of a new AutoCAD file format for the first time in five years. Historically, we have only had a new file format every three years, so this was quite a big break. For some AutoCAD users, the AutoCAD 2013 file format is all they have ever known and this change has been a bit of a shock.

This prompts a big question - which file format should we use? The simple answer is to use what works for you, To find the best format for your needs, here are some things to take into account:

• Do you share your DWGs with lots of people?
• Do you have a wide variety of AutoCAD versions in use, e.g. 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 etc?
• Is software cross compatibility important to you?
• Do you have a large archive of older drawings that you need to keep in their current 2013 file format?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then it could be worth setting up your AutoCAD 2018 to save AutoCAD DWGs in the 2013 format by default, rather than risking the chance of making working files inaccessible to other stakeholders. However, a caveat to bear in mind is that the following procedure is for ‘Vanilla’ AutoCAD, not any specialized versions, such as AutoCAD Architecture/Civil 3D/ MEP/ Advance Steel etc.

Here's how to set your AutoCAD default file format to 2013:

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1. Open your AutoCAD Options from either the Application menuor  the Big Red A, or simply type ‘op’ and press ENTER.
2. From the Options dialog box, select the Open and Save tab.
3. In the File Save panel use the Save as drop-down menu and select the version you want as your new default, e.g. AutoCAD 2013.
4. Then click on the OK button and you are done.

At the moment, I cannot see any editing problems arising by saving down to the older 2013 version as far as functionality is concerned. However, as new or improved features are added to AutoCAD in later versions, this may change and consequently this idea may need to be re-considered.

Generally, it is not recommended to save down to a ‘dumber’ older version, like 2010, as a standard, as you may lose functionality with certain tools. If you need to deliver drawings in a much older format it is probably best practice to set up a ‘Deliverables’ folder where dumbed down versions are saved using the ‘Save As’ function, whilst keeping your working files in a current ‘Smart’ file format in order to maintain your optimum functionality.

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