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How to Run AutoCAD on Chromebook in 2 Easy Ways

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It is a common misconception that Chromebooks are not capable of running powerful software found on PCs or Macs. If you are an engineering student, you may need to run some fairly intensive applications on your laptop. Chromebooks are a great solution for students because they are safe and cost effective.

If you’re an engineering student using a Chromebook, you’ll probably need to run AutoCAD for some of your course assignments. Unlike on a PC, AutoCAD does not offer a native ChromeOS installation. Fortunately, there are still some easy ways to harness the power of AutoCAD drafting on your Chromebook or other ChromeOS device. We’ll look at the online version of AutoCAD for students, as well as discuss how to run the full version of AutoCAD using Parallels for enterprise customers.

Run AutoCAD on your Chromebook using the browser

If you only need AutoCAD for very basic tasks, such as an introductory engineering course or drafting, your best bet is to run AutoCAD in the browser or use the Progressive Web Application (PWA). AutoCAD provides a powerful online platform for cloud computing with a fair amount of power.

To use AutoCAD online, simply log into your university or institution’s AutoDesk account and choose the online option. If you are already logged into your AutoDesk account, you can access the online platform directly via web.autocad.com.

The main downside to using AutoCAD online is that you have to store the files in the cloud. Fortunately, AutoCAD makes it easy to integrate any cloud service you want with their web application. This is in stark contrast to the case for MATLAB online. Within the AutoCAD web app, you can choose Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, and others as your primary cloud storage service. This option makes it easy to work with AutoCAD in the browser for assignments and collaborative projects.

And frankly, the speed in the browser is quite impressive. AutoCAD works flawlessly in the web application for most 2D design tasks. There is a bit of a delay if you try more advanced 3D crafting, but that’s to be expected. Features in the web app include:

  • Edit the geometry, select objects within the graphics, move them, rotate and scale with your choice of ribbon or command line.
  • Access to easy-to-use crafting tools and manage views, properties, and layers. Reduce eye strain with sharp icons and a modern blue interface.
  • Safely review and add comments directly to the DWG file without changing the existing graphic.
  • Send an exact copy of the drawing to your teammates to access it wherever they are.
  • View, edit, share and save drawings stored in Autodesk Drive and Autodesk Docs, as well as in OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.
  • Easily access the command line, which is docked at the bottom left of the drawing area and displays prompts, options, and messages.
  • Take measurements and add dimensions to your drawings.

Sure, there are a few advanced rotation and manipulation features that are only found in the PC version of AutoCAD, but the ability of the web application is great overall.

Use AutoCAD Extensions for Chrome OS

For those who plan to use the AutoCAD app frequently, you may also want to add a shortcut to the web app in your Chromebook’s app drawer. You can also install the Google Drive extension for the AutoCAD web app via the Google Workspace Marketplace. This allows you to integrate AutoCAD directly with Google Drive. With this extension installed, you can use the “Open With” option in Drive by right-clicking to open files directly in AutoCAD.

Obviously, it is much more pleasant to use a local copy of AutoCAD on a computer, which has additional features and local file storage. However, for students who use AutoCAD on assignments, this should get the job done. You can always choose to move files back and forth between AutoCAD’s cloud storage and your Google Drive or Dropbox folder. This is obviously not ideal, but it can get the job done in no time. If you have an LTE Chromebook, be sure to turn off automatic syncing of cloud services in AutoCAD.

Run AutoCAD on a Chromebook with Parallels DesktopParallels chromebooks windows chrome os

For those who cannot be satisfied with the online solution, there is another suitable option if you are a corporate or educational institution customer. It is possible to install the Windows version of AutoCAD using Parallels Desktop for ChromeOS.

parallel to the desktop It is a full-featured Windows container that runs natively on ChromeOS. This program allows you to run the full version of Windows, but there are a few important things that you should be aware of.

Parallels Desktop is currently only widely available for business clients, which makes this option of little use for individual users at the moment. With Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS, IT departments can enable proprietary, full-featured Windows applications – including AutoCAD – on Chrome OS devices, both online and offline. You will need to upgrade Chrome Enterprise to run Parallels. Some of the main features of Parallels Desktop for ChromeOS include:

  • Always access to business-critical Windows applications
  • Switch between ChromeOS and Windows easily – no need to reboot.
  • Suspend and resume Windows to get back to work right away.
  • Open files on ChromeOS using Windows apps.
  • Bonus: One-touch access to over 30 tools with the included Parallels Toolbox.
  • Use the full feature sets of desktop applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.
  • Access the Windows desktop, documents, downloads, and custom folders from Chrome OS files.
  • No internet? Not a problem! Files and applications are fully accessible both online and offline.
  • Easily move content between Chrome OS and Windows via the shared clipboard.
  • Print from Windows to supported printers.
  • Keep streaming with your mouse, camera, microphone, audio, and dock, plus USB smart card reader support.
  • Enjoy the view with dynamic resolution and full screen support.

Parallels Desktop Requirements

There are minimum system requirements to run Parallels on a Chromebook. You need at least ChromeOS 85 or later. Additionally, you need the Google Admin console, Chrome Enterprise / Chrome Education Upgrade, Microsoft Windows ISO, Windows License, and Storage Server if you want to distribute on multiple devices in your organization. In terms of hardware, supported processors include Intel Core i5 or i7 and AMD Ryzen 5 or 7. You will also need at least 8GB of RAM and 128GB of local SSD storage on your device.

While some of these specifications appear to be limited, keep in mind that this program is currently aimed at enterprise customers. There are several enterprise Chromebooks from Acer, HP, and Lenovo that meet the requirements. If your Chromebook or ChromeOS tablet meets the minimum requirements, you might also enjoy purchasing a docking station to turn your Chromebook into a complete workstation.

Technically, you can upgrade to Chrome Enterprise on a supported Chromebook if you’re an individual. All you have to do is buy a website domain from a provider like Squarespace, then link it to your Google Workspace account. Google Workspace, Chrome Enterprise, and your domain will all have associated costs, so this can be a very costly approach if you don’t have an actual business.

However, if you are an enterprise customer, Parallels Desktop is definitely worth it. If you are interested in the full process of booting Windows on your Chromebook via Parallels, check out our full tutorial.

You’re all set, this is the whole process of installing AutoCAD on your Chromebook or other ChromeOS device using the Web App or Parallels. We hope it ends up being a very nice experience. For those who need a local installation, Parallels Desktop is also an excellent option for enterprise users. Let us know your experience with either method in the comments section below.