Regardless if you think DWF’s are the best thing since sliced bread, if the person you’re sending the DWF to can’t open the DWF; how great DWF’s are becomes irrelevant mighty quick. In my experience, unless you’re sending a lot of DWF’s to someone, they’re not all that interested in installing yet another piece of software just so they can view your drawings. They’ll simply reply to your e-mail and ask you to send a PDF since they already have Adobe Reader installed on their machine. But did you know Microsoft Windows can open DWF’s without ANY third-party software? All you need is Internet Explorer. Let me explain…

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Selecting the DWFx ePlot plotter from the PLOT command

If you go to the PLOT command in AutoCAD 2009 or 2010 (or AutoCAD 2008 if the DWFx Driver was installed) you’ll have two DWF options; DWF6 ePlot and DWFx ePlot (XPS Compatible). Choosing the DWFx ePlot option will create a .dwfx file that uses the XPS – XML Paper Specification created by Microsoft. Using the DWFx option over the DWF6 option will make a .dwfx file that anyone with a compatible XPS viewer can open without downloading any additional software; all you need is Internet Explorer 7 or higher (Windows XP users with Internet Explorer 6 can install the XPS Viewer from Microsoft to get this functionality).

To open a .dwfx file in Internet Explorer:

  1. Launch Internet Explorer, and go to File > Open.
  2. Select the Browse button from the Open dialog that displays.
  3. Change the Files of Type drop-down list to All Files. Then browse to your .dwfx file and select Open.

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    Opening a .dwfx file with Internet Explorer

  4. You’ll return to the Open dialog where the path to your .dwfx file should display. Press Ok to open the .dwfx.
  5. Internet Explorer will begin opening the drawing for you. Depending on security settings, you may need to accept an ActiveX control, but the .dwfx drawing will then display inside your Internet Explorer browser.

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    Viewing a .dwfx file with Internet Explorer