AutoCAD for the Mac, but in a stripped-down edition

Drawing complex designs made simpler, but the speed and remote storage requirements may be an issue for some.

Autodesk AutoCAD is one of the standard applications on Windows for those who need an app for designs. With AutoCAD WS, the application moves to the Mac with support for Mac OS X 10.6 or later. For those who are not familiar with AutoCAD, it is a tool for laying out designs from simple to hideously complex, with the ability to mark up and comment on designs for collaborative use. With AutoCAD WS, those designs can now be portable, allowing you to move them around on mobile devices as native AutoCAD files or PDFs.

AutoCAD WS installs easily and has an attractive interface. AutoCAD WS is not a full-blown AutoCAD implementation, but a stripped version of the larger package. Having said that, there are still a lot of capabilities in AutoCAD WS, including a good set of drawing tools and visualization options. Drawings are not typically stored locally, but on a cloud storage device (which means you need to set up an account). But you can save a local copy to allow review without Internet access, which is good for mobile devices.

In our testing AutoCAD WS worked fine, once we set up an account. The speed of AutoCAD WS is not blazingly fast, for some reason, so those who use the full-blown AutoCAD will be disappointed. For users who've never used AutoCAD before, though, this is a nice introduction to the capabilities of the package. On high-resolution displays the drawings can be striking, and there's enough capability here to meet most user's requirements.

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