9 Easy Ways to Smooth the Switch to ZWCAD

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9 Easy Ways to Smooth the Switch to ZWCAD

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9 Easy Ways to Smooth the Switch to ZWCAD

ZWSchool 2021-08-25 17:46:00

Do you think that moving from a familiar workstation to a different one is a grind? Are you anxious about wasting days getting used to the new stuff? Well, with ZWCAD, one of the best CAD software for beginners, you don’t need to worry about a thing. In this article, we will roll out a complete guide that shows you how to switch to ZWCAD from other CAD programs painlessly while keeping your custom settings.

To be more specific, here are 9 things that you can do to make ZWCAD handier for you.

1.         Keep your aliases

2.         Keep your tool palettes

3.         Keep your fonts & font mapping files

4.         Keep your line types

5.         Keep your hatch patterns

6.         Keep your plot styles

7.         Keep your preferences in a template

8.         Keep your add-ons running in ZWCAD

9.         Keep ZWCAD as the default program for opening DWG files

For starters, let’s get to know a frequently used path during the whole keep-your-preferences-in-ZWCAD process, that is, the ZWCAD installation path. To access it, right-click on the desktop ZWCAD icon, choose Properties, and click the Open File Location button.

Figure 1. How to access the ZWCAD installation path

Keep Your Aliases

An alias is the acronym or abbreviation of a CAD command. Inputting an alias in the command line will invoke the command you want, saving you the time and effort of typing the complete command. Usually, aliases are stored in a PGP file, which appears in the installation path.

To continue using your aliases in ZWCAD, you can simply replace the PGP file in the ZWCAD installation path with the previous one. What you must know is that the replacement only takes effect when the name of the PGP file from other CAD software is the same as that of ZWCAD. So, don’t forget to rename the file!

Figure 2. Where you can find ZWCAD.pgp

Keep Your Tool Palettes

The Tool Palettes store blocks, patterns, and other components altogether in one panel as XTP files in some CAD programs while as XML files in ZWCAD. It might have taken you a lot of effort and time to build your inclusive panel, deterring you from using ZWCAD for fear of losing your precious tools.

Fear not, we offer a tool named TPConverter to convert your Tool Palettes from an XTP file to an XML one. Instantly, you could reuse your Tool Palettes in ZWCAD.


1. TPConverter only converts customized Tool Palettes.

2. Tool Palettes that include entities unavailable in ZWCAD (for example, light) cannot be converted.

3. To use TPConverter for free, please contact our technical team or your local resellers.

Keep Your Fonts & Font Mapping Files

In the ZWCAD installation path, fonts stored in the corresponding folder determine whether the texts in a drawing can be read properly. Meanwhile, font mapping (FMP) files define how ZWCAD replaces missing fonts in a drawing by default.

Understandably, ZWCAD doesn’t have all fonts you need. To build your font library in ZWCAD, you can try the solution below.

Step 1. Use the ETRANSMIT command. It packs all entities, font files included, from a drawing in a ZIP file.

Step 2. Transfer the font files from the ZIP file to the Fonts folder in the ZWCAD installation path.

Figure 3. Adding fonts to ZWCAD

As for replacing missing fonts in your way, follow these steps. 

Step 1. Copy the FMP file from the installation path of other CAD software.

Step 2. Rename this file “zwcad.fmp” and paste it into the ZWCAD installation path.

Figure 4. Where you can locate zwcad.fmp

Keep Your Line Types & Hatch Pattens

Line type files, zwcad.lin for zwcad.dwt and ZWCADiso.lin for zwcadiso.dwt, contain line types that can be loaded in a drawing. Likewise, hatch pattern files, ZWCAD.pat for zwcad.dwt and ZWCADISO.pat for zwcadiso.dwt, hold hatch patterns that can be applied when using HATCH.

Now, you might wonder, what’s the difference between the file names, ZWCAD and ZWCADISO? The answer is that files named ZWCAD comply with the ANSI standard, while those named ZWCADISO, the ISO standard.

To keep using your line types and hatch patterns in ZWCAD, you can simply replace the LIN and PAT files of ZWCAD with your previously used ones in the ZWCAD installation path. Like replacing aliases, please always remember the replacement is effective only when the files are renamed what they are called in ZWCAD.

Figure 5. Accessing the .pat and .lin files of ZWCAD

Keep Your Plot Styles

There are two types of plot style files in CAD software: CTB and STB files. CTB files, containing color-table-based plot parameters, are commonly used in printing, while STB files, containing style-table-based plot parameters, can be converted from CTB files using the CONVERTCTB command. They both define the way entities in different colors are printed.

It only takes one step to apply former plot styles in ZWCAD: transfer the plot style files you need to the Printstyle folder in the ZWCAD installation path.

Figure 6. Adding plot style files to ZWCAD

Keep Your Preferences in a Template

If you are an experienced CAD user, you likely have some preferences, like preset layer styles, standard dimension styles, familiar shortcut keys, and frequently used mouse actions.

Here is an approach for you to apply these settings from the get-go: keep them in a DWT file and start designing with it. Watch the how-to video below!


There is an efficient way to use your custom template by default every time you start ZWCAD: use the QNEW command and set your template as the default one in the Options dialog box.

Figure 7. Set your DWT file as the default template by QNEW

Keep Using Your Favorite Add-ons in ZWCAD

“Is ZWCAD compatible with the third-party applications I often use?” might be the key concern before you start using ZWCAD.

To find out about it, just visit our development network where vertical add-ons for ZWCAD and their detailed information are listed. Of course, our professional technical support team and API team are here to help if you need a hand porting your previously used programs to ZWCAD.

Set ZWCAD as the Default Program to Open DWG Files

As one of the best AutoCAD alternatives, ZWCAD supports fully the DWG file format. Once you’ve switched to ZWCAD, you would like to have all the DWG files opened with ZWCAD simply by double-clicking, instead of choosing among other programs every time. Well, there are two simple ways to double-click to open DWG files with ZWCAD by default.

Solution 1:

Right-click on the DWG file, click “Open with”, and then choose ZWCAD as the application that is always used to open DWG files.

Solution 2:

Go to Computer\HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.dwg\shellex\open\Command in the registry, and change the value of the default key to "C:\Program Files\ZWSOFT\ZWCAD 2022\ZWCAD.exe""%1".

Figure 8. Making ZWCAD the default program to open DWG files

Having learned these 9 quick ways to switch to ZWCAD 2022, the cloud of doubt in your mind must have gone away. If you have any other tips on keeping preferences in ZWCAD, feel free to share them in the ZWCAD User Group!

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