Knowledge base

Creating a Copy of an AutoCAD File

This FAQ provides tips on how to save a copy of an AutoCAD drawing files (DWGs) for use in ArcMap. It points out problems that may prevent the AutoCAD drawing files (DWGs) from drawing, while providing tips to fix these issues in AutoCAD.


AutoCAD Application* (see note below)

DWG file not saved or created using Object Data

About Coordinate Systems

How to Assign a coordinate system to a Source Drawing and the Current Drawing

How To Transform the Coordinate System of a Drawing


How To: Display an AutoCAD drawing file in ArcMap (Esri Technical Support Article)

*ArcGIS Desktop does not support features created in AutoCAD Civil 3D or AutoCAD Land Desktop using Object data. If these files are opened and re-saved in AutoCAD, some of the Object data may be converted to entities that draw in ArcMap or convert to a geodatabase. If possible though, use of Object data in AutoDesk files which are brought into ArcGIS Desktop should be avoided. These are the prerequisite steps to sending or sharing a DWG for use in ArcGIS Desktop or Pro. DWG drawing is not supported on ArcGIS Online.

1. Save a copy for the drawing file in AutoCAD with a name that does not contain spaces or hyphens

Note: If the name contains spaces or hyphens, substitute both characters with underscores

2. Navigate to Insert > External References, and detach any external references attached to the file

3. Save the AutoCAD drawing file again

4. Navigate to Format > Units

5. Take note of the units used to create the file

6. Navigate to Layer Manager, and turn on, unfreeze, or unlock any layers which are turned off, frozen, or locked

Note: This enables the data to draw in ArcMap

7. Save the AutoCAD drawing file

8. Navigate to Edit > Select all, and apply the Explode command to explode the blocks

Note: The Explode command may cause inaccessible features to be available It is recommended to apply the Explode command at least once, although the command may need to be applied several more times since blocks may be embedded up to nine levels deep

9. Save the drawing file in AutoCAD

10. Write-down the Coordinate System

Note: To View the Assigned Coordinate System

11. Share the newly created copy via email

12. Share the Coordinate System via email