5 Best CAD Software for Mac

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If you’re looking for CAD software for Mac, you’re not without options. We’ve found some standout Mac and cloud-based CAD platforms for you.

header image showing a laptop displaying CAD software

You’re likely to hit a wall if you’re searching for computer-aided design (CAD) software designed for Mac. There are plenty of CAD software options for Windows—you’ll see many of them in our list of the top AutoCAD alternatives—but only a handful offer support for Mac.

And, if you think you’ll bypass the issue by using a cloud-based CAD tool, you’ll quickly find that CAD vendors haven’t embraced the cloud as much as other types of software vendors have, so the offerings are still largely on-premise. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for IT Evolution (full content available to Gartner clients), cloud-native CAD applications still have five to 10 years before they reach mainstream adoption.

But fear not, Mac users. We’ve done some digging and have put together this list of the top-rated CAD software for Mac. Read more about our methodology at the bottom of this article.

Best 5 Mac CAD Software

5 Best CAD Software for Mac (presented alphabetically)

1. CorelCAD

CorelCAD offers 2D drafting and 3D design capabilities, such as the drawing constraints feature for creating different geometric shapes faster and the push and pull feature for 3D direct modeling.

CorelCAD 3D Modeling

3D modeling in CorelCAD (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analyses of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of CorelCAD they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • The short learning curve: Users mention that the tool is easy to use and beginners don’t have to spend a lot of time learning it.
  • Compatibility with multiple file types: Users like the fact that the tool is compatible with DWG, PDF, ACIS, DXF, STL, CDR, and other file formats.

What users think could be improved:

  • Software reliability issues: Some users mention that the software tends to crash at times.
  • Better dimension functionality: Some users would like a better dimensioning feature for more accurate drawings of angles and proportions.

Who can use CorelCAD

CorelCAD can be used by construction businesses for collaborative editing on multiple devices. It offers native iOS applications, which makes it easy for field crews to add annotations in graphics and share files using their iPhones and iPads. Additionally, the tool allows team members to leave recorded messages and instructions for colleagues embedded in the graphics using a voice note tool.

2. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is an open source CAD tool that works on Mac as well as Windows and Linux. It reads many common file formats such as STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, and DAE.

It offers different modules, including a drawing sheets module that converts 3D models into 2D views, a rendering module that can export 3D objects, and an architecture module for a BIM-like workflow.

FreeCAD 3D modeling

3D model of a building in FreeCAD (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of FreeCAD they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Feature-richness for a free tool: Users mention that, although it’s free, the tool comes with a full set of features.
  • Reliability: Users mention that the tool does not demand a lot of CPU power and works well on devices with low RAM.

What users think could be improved:

  • Steep learning curve: Users mention that the tool is not the most user-friendly solution and can be difficult for beginners to learn.
  • Dependent on community for updates: Users mention that modules ignored by the community tend to become outdated quickly.

Who can use FreeCAD

FreeCAD appears to be best for hobbyists and home users. It’s also good for users who don’t have a high budget for software but still want to tinker with CAD modeling.

FreeCAD could also be a good choice for businesses on a budget looking for a free and open-source option.

3. Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is a CAD tool from Autodesk with design functionalities such as sketching and 3D modeling. It also supports project management with features such as task management, document management, and collaborative image editing.

Fusion 360 document management

Document management in Fusion 360 (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of Fusion 360 they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Comprehensive design features: User mention that the tool offers all the functionalities necessary for 2D and 3D designing.
  • Availability of training resources: Users like the fact that the tool comes with ample documentation and tutorials.

What users think could be improved:

  • System crashes: Users mention that the tool tends to crash, especially when designing and rendering large files.
  • Steep learning curve: Users mention that it can take a lot of time to learn the advanced functionalities of the tool.

Who can use Fusion 360

Fusion 360 is part of the Autodesk ecosystem designed for the AEC industry. This makes the tool suitable for construction businesses that are already using, or intend to use, other Autodesk solutions. Using a software vendor that offers multiple solutions will especially benefit larger businesses that invariably need software that can scale with their growing requirements.

4. LibreCAD

LibreCAD is an open source CAD tool that supports Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. The tool comes with 2D drawing features such as a snap tool, dimensioning, and annotations. It also supports multiple file imports and exports.

LibreCAD 2D drawing

2D drawing in LibreCAD (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of LibreCAD they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Ease of use: Users mention that the tool offers an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.
  • Lots of tutorials: Users like the fact that there are ample video tutorials that help them get started with the tool.

What users think could be improved:

  • Software speed: Users mention that the software tends to lag, especially when trying to print designs.
  • Add support for 3D design: Users would like to see functionalities for creating 3D designs.

Who can use LibreCAD

LibreCAD is an exclusively 2D CAD tool for drawing and designing blueprints of buildings, layouts of parks, and the like. As a free tool, the solution can be used by small and midsize businesses across different industries, including manufacturing, engineering, architecture, and construction.

5. Onshape

Onshape is a cloud-only CAD solution that comes with features such as document management with version control, collaborative design creation/editing capabilities, and reporting dashboards to understand project status.

OnShape document import

Importing documents in Onshape (Source)

Common user feedback trends

Based on analysis of user reviews on Capterra, here’s an overview of the areas of Onshape they like best, as well as those they feel could use improvement.

What users like:

  • Document version control: Users like the document management features of the tool, such as version history.
  • Intuitive interface: Users mention that the tool comes with an intuitive interface for easy image editing.

What users think could be improved:

  • Performance issues: Some users mention that the tool does not function well on non-Chrome browsers and has file loading issues.
  • Lack of features: Users mention that the tool should improve certain features such as 2D drawing and 3D surfacing.

Who can use Onshape

As a fully-cloud based tool, Onshape is ideal for businesses that need to manage design documents collaboratively with multiple stakeholders. The tool’s collaboration functionalities include document sharing, document editing, comments, and file downloads in multiple CAD formats, such as Parasolid, ACIS, STEP, and IGES.

Next steps

This report offers a mix of Mac CAD solutions—from free tools that can help you with basic 2D drawing to advanced solutions offering extensive 3D modeling functionalities.

If these tools don’t meet your needs, expand your search and check out more options. To help you, we’ve created a CAD software comparison page where you can explore products using different filters, such as features offered and pricing options.

If you’re looking to understand the CAD software market better, we also recommend that you read the articles listed below:


Methodology

To be shortlisted, products had to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Products had to be compatible with Mac and offer core CAD software capabilities, such as:
    • 2D drawing or 3D modeling features
    • Collaborative editing of drawings
  • Products needed a minimum of 20 user reviews on Capterra (published in the last two years).
  • Products had to have a high overall rating (an average of at least 4 out of 5 on Capterra).

Note: The content in this piece that provides opinions and points of view expressed by users. It does not represent the views of Capterra.

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Pritam Tamang

Pritam Tamang

Pritam is a Content Analyst at Capterra and Software Advice. He writes technology research reports centered around small business project management. His areas of interest are SaaS technologies, content marketing and agile/lean thinking.

Comments

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Very informative article! This article is giving all the information which actually is required. Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a comprehensive article.

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You’re missing PoweCADD. For me has been the best choice with excellent quality and performance.

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I’m just an average guy looking for the easiest program to draw my home interior for the purpose of remodeling the and moving walls, adding an entrance, etc. Anybody? 🙂
)

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Hi and thanks for taking the time to review CAD software for Mac. As a graphic designer and photo retoucher, a Mac and Adobe Creative Suite are an obvious choice (though I go way back to when Quark was KING and there was no InDesign). Finding 3D software has been a challenge. Every sooften I’m asked to create illustrations that 3D software would help. Going to try a couple suggestions as well as DesignSpark Mechanical on my wife’s PC. Again, thanks for steering me in the right direction.
All the best!
Scott

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Hi. Excellent round up for new entrant, and as a landscape architect.

I’m currently immersed in learning AC but will probably default to BricsCAD or Vectorworks. The reason is that LA’s need to be able to understand AC for importing/exporting and discussion but much of their work lies in communicating broad scale sites. Both of latter programmes offer this. Revit is sweeping the field in many client offices but is awful for landscape so far, from others reports.

Would like to hear from other LA’s, especially you think I’m wrong.

Hugh

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There’s a great cad software that is missing on this article: Autodesk Fusion 360, the best yet. By the way, the 2 best options are Autocad and Fusion 360!

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The one I like best is Bricscad BIM for mac
Pretty much like having sketchup, a windows autocad and revit in one single application in dwg,. No need to convert files from one format to another, no need to learn a whole new interface, just learn a few additional commands for BIM but very intuitive. My staff made the transition from 2d cad to a 15m2 full BIM to a 50,000 m3 shopping center in a couple of weeks

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Talking about Vellum, Cobalt and ViaCAD / SharkCAD, you should take a look at DesignFreeQ by SharkDesigner. It’s similar to Vellum with it’s unsurpassed drafting assistant, making it the most outstanding CAD application since its introduction in the early nineties.

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Like John Kendall in above comments, I was a bit surprised by the absence of a few fairly major Mac applications…

Like he mentions, Form*Z is a major app used by architects and industrial designers, though the toolset is possibly a bit more ‘artsy’ and less traditional CAD-like. (For the record, I used/owned Form*Z at one point, but could never achieve the speed/precision of other CAD apps I used previously or since then, so I didn’t continue).

But, what about other apps like Ashlar’s Vellum or Cobalt? Or, apps like ViaCAD / Shark CAD? (Note: I started with Ashlar Solids, then Cobalt, then CSi’s Concepts Unlimited, now ViaCAD… which are kind of the same product lineage even though they have branched).

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The TurboCAD package you speak of in this set of comparisons is NOT for the Macintosh.

The Macintosh TurboCAD Pro is based on the same code but contains a lessor feature set a retail price that is about 1/3rd of the Platinum Package for Windows.

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I use Highdesign by ilexsoft.com A 2D CAD software for Mac and soon also for windows. It is very powerful and has an excellent interface. Works with a native format but supports dxf and dwg, The price of the LT version starts at $ 69.99

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What about Chief Architect?

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in my company I use SketchUp Pro. Is the best!

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Used SketchUp for a while but found it intensely irritating in that touching parts acted as single elements; modify one line or part and several others moved or stretched with it! To avoid this you have to make compound groups which as a long-term ACAD/Microstation user I found illogical and time- consuming. Then no ‘fence stretch’ function nor many such common & useful functions. NOT for me!

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As a retired architect who never used 2D Cad but worked alongside CAD since the ’80s, I needed CAD for a small architectural project. I first used Google Sketchup (free) and found it amazing compared to the complexity and drudgery I had observed with the old 2D programs (AutoCad and Microstation), you just have to be careful in connecting point in 3D space. I then moved to FormZ pro which is very similar but provides more refinement. I used FormZ for both architectural and a small (20mm size) 3D printed industrial connector project with very fine tolerances, FormZ support is excellent. Many of the CAD systems you mention are basically derivations of the old clunky ‘command driven’ 2D derived programs from the ’80 – ’90’s. I use an iMac but both Sketchup and FormZ work on Win. Both can provide 2D drawings from the 3D program – basically the new modelling programs are fundamentally different from the older 2D programs with bolt on 3D capabilities. If you use a Mac be a little wary of the older Win programs (TurboCad) claiming to be re-written for Mac OS. One 2D program I came across was HighDesign for Mac which looked intuitive and promising.

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I bought TurboCad 8 Pro for Mac couple of years ago. It never worked very well, always some problems. Now with High Sierra it deos not work at all. The say to support it, but the only advice they give is buy new version and “In this case it cannot be resolved do to Apple changing operating system and there is no patch. The complaint is with Apple we did not force you to change your operating system and should have been stated by them that this may effect current software you are using.”

My advice, do nto spend money on TurboCAD.

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I was going to buy TurboCad Deluxe 2D/3D v10 for my Macbook Pro but reviews state that it doesn’t work with High Sierra OS. TurboCad never got back to me with my comments. I draw mechanical parts, mostly 2D. Any suggestions?

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I need a simple MAC CAD app to design an outdoor kitchen and the A-frame structure that protects it from the weather. I need to be able to make scale drawings and specify angle cuts in the roof trusses and support beams. What should I get? I don’t want to spend more than $200

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As Mac is a complete different operating system from normal ones. It also need different cad software for it. Generally cad software are not much expensive but when we talk about some advanced and multi functional cad software they are little bit expensive but their features completely worth their value.

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It’s a shame that Autodesk doesn’t invest in the Macos platform with softwares like Revit and 3ds Max

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Shame this article is so limited in its list of programs. RealCAD is one of the biggest CAD for Mac offerings and isn’t here at all? LANDWorksCAD for landscape design is also available on Mac. RealCAD is a direct alternative to AutoCAD at a fair price and is easier to use and manage.

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There is also a free CAD software for Mac – BabaCAD. I found it on the App Store.

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Do you know what happened to “Digital Architect Software”? It had a great hand-lettering font which I used with my AutoCad for PC. Now I am looking for a version compatible with AutoCad for iMac.

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You should be also able to run CMS IntelliCAD 2D 3D Compatible CAD software on MAC OS X using hardware emulation virtualization software.

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Freecad is actually a really competent parametric soild modeller CAD, and sure it might not quite be as advanced as Autodesk inventor, its free and has a *very* active developer community making plugins of all sorts. Also Autodesk inventor is not on the mac, I *think*

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I built a plug-in called Plusspec for Sketchup and it works on Mac. I came from a trade background and also run my own building company. We have done a lot of hard work to make PlusSpec suitable for building companies around the world.
Id like to hear your thoughts.

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