DWG or DXF files received via email won't open


I’m having problems translating AutoCAD DWG? files I received via Email. PowerCADD gives me an warning dialog “ an error occurred while loading the file, Increase memory size” (or similar errors) but I’m still unable to translate the file even after increasing the memory (in older versions of PowerCADD in Mac OS? 9). What do I do?


Minimum: Any version of PowerCADD and the PowerDWG Translator External
Recommended: PowerCADD v7 and Mac OS X Tiger or newer


All email file attachments are encoded / chopped into smaller bits to be transferred through the internet. It’s very common for certain types of attachments like DWG, DXF? , spread sheets or word processing files to be damaged during that encoding or decoding process if they were not compressed before being emailed.

In real world plain english terms, it's like trying to send something through the Postal Service. We wouldn't expect a glass vase to arrive undamaged if all we did was stick a stamp on it and drop it in mail. Rather, we'd take the time to package the item correctly to protect it during shipping. While it's possible the packaging may bet damaged, the contents is protected and arrives in one piece.

Sending an email attachment without compressing it first is much like that. Compressing the files first has two distinct benefits:

  1. makes the file smaller for faster and more efficient transfers
  2. serves as the packaging that protects the file inside to avoid corruption

What To Do

There is a simple two step test:

  1. if the file was received by email and was uncompressed
    • or
  2. In OS 9 you’ve increased the memory allocation to PowerCADD but still receive the “... Increase memory...” error dialog

Then in +90% of all cases the file was corrupted during internet transfer and the file is unusable. Rather than beating a dead horse, it faster to have the file compressed and resent as described below.

Compressing the file

Windows Users:
If the person sending the file is a Windows user, then they should do this:

  1. compress the file using PKZip or WinZip ( common utilities on Windows Computers)
  2. Do not make the file 'self extracting' (I.e. do not make a *.EXE file), just make a plain *.zip file Note: mac's can't run a *.exe file but can handle *.zip files just fine
  3. Attach the *.zip file to the email and resend it.

Mac Users:
If the person sending the file is a Mac user, then they should do this:

  1. compress the file using Drop Stuff (Shareware) or Stuffit Deluxe (full payware commercial application)
  2. attach the *.sit file to the email and send it.

Note: they can also save the file as an *.sea (self extracting archive)

These related articles on our website also contain information on compressing (zipping, stuffing, archiving) files
When I zip files windows users can't open it
Mac OS X Panther: Compressing (zipping) files for Windows Users

Receiving the files

A *.zip file from Windows user:
When you receive a *.zip file from a Windows user you have two choices to expand it and access the *.dwg file:

  1. Drag and Drop the *.zip file onto the Stuffit Expander Icon(you will need the registered version of stuffit expander or the full version of Stuffit Deluxe)
    • or
  2. Use a shareware utility like ZipIT! to expand the file by a simple and Drag and drop of the *.zip file onto the ZipIT icon
    a copy of ZipIT can be downloaded from this link http://www.maczipit.com/
    • or
  3. In Mac OS X Panther, Tiger or newer, simply double click the file and Mac OS X can extract the contents of the zip archive

A *.sit or *.sea file from Mac user:
When you receive a *.sit (or *.sea) file from a Mac User you have two choices to expand it and access the *.dwg file:

  1. Drag and Drop the archive onto Stuffit Expander
    • or
  2. Double click the file to expand it if it’s a *.sea file

After you've expanded the compressed file, you should be able to open the *.dwg file using the PowerCADD, PowerDWG Translator.

If you’re still unable to process the *.dwg file there may be other issues at play and you may want to take advantage of our File Translation Services.

We hope that helps

If you found this article or the website in general to be helpful, educational or a time and money saver you can show your support. Thank you ~ Brian (huc) Huculak

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AutoCAD users see a 'not an autocad dwg file' prompt

In AutoCAD v2007 and newer, it's typical for AutoCAD users to see a special prompt when opening your DWG? files written (saved) from PowerCADD. The prompt generically describes the fact the DWG file was not created by AutoCAD.

That is in fact true, the AutoCAD user simply needs to acknowledge that fact by clicking the appropriate button in the dialog to proceed to open the file. Not all AutoCAD users will see that prompt as there is a check box in the dialog to not show the prompt again. Typically this dialog appears for any DWG file not created specifically by AutoCAD but the DWG files you write from PowerCADD will open just fine.

AutoCAD users have to 'recover' your files

If the AutoCAD user receiving your DWG? files written (saved) from PowerCADD is being prompted to 'recover' the file, it's likely you did not compress it before sending it via email.

Follow the above noted steps for zipping the file first, then resend it. That typically protects the file and eliminates the need for the Acad user to recover the file when it's being opened

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