DWG or DXF Files dimmed in Open Dialog


I tried to open an AutoCAD DWG? file using the PowerDWG translator. However the file is dimmed (grayed out) when I choose File? menu > Open in PowerCADD. If I double click on the file I receive an error dialog box stating the file cannot be opened the PowerDWG translator. What's going on? I've used the PowerDWG translator before and didn't have any problems. How do I get the file open?


Minimum: PowerCADD v6 and PowerDWG v6 and Mac OS? X or OS 9
Recommedned: PowerCADD v7 (includes PowerDWG v7) and Mac OS X Tiger or newer


In order to open AutoCAD DWG files in PowerCADD you need the PowerDWG Translator External (XTNL) installed and loaded when PowerCADD is launched.

If you're using PowerCADD v6, then remember PowerDWG is a separate add-on to PowerCADD. It's also important to note to simple facts about the PowerDWG 6.1.1 Translator:

  1. The PowerDWG translator reads and writes to release 10 through release 2000 *.DWG files.
  2. The files must have the correct three letter 'dwg' suffix (example: filename.dwg) in order for the file to be displayed in the File menu -> Open... dialog
  3. DXF? files follow the same general guidelines

If you're using PowerCADD v7, then the PowerDWG Translator was included with your original PowerCADD purchase. It's also important to note to simple facts about the PowerDWG 7 Translator:

  1. The PowerDWG translator reads and writes to release 10 through release 2006 *.DWG files.
  2. The files must have the correct three letter 'dwg' suffix (example:filename.dwg) in order for the file to be displayed in the File menu -> Open... dialog
  3. DXF files follow the same general guidelines

What To Do

There are two basic causes and approaches to the problem. The first, most common problem, is a file does not have the correct three letter file suffix. The second is the file might be an AutoCAD 2004 file and you're using PowerCADD v6 with PowerDWG v6. We'll cover both aspects next.

There is also a another possibility -- the file was corrupted during internet file transfer, particularly if the file was sent via email. If you suspect that is the problem (or have tried these two options and the problem still persists) please read this article on our website if you received the file via email.

We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention that, after updating a version of PowerCADD v6, a manual update of the PowerDWG v6 Translator XTNL is also required. If there are multiple installations of PowerCADD on a computer, it's easy to loose track of which ones have or have not been updated. When all else fails, do a clean install / update to PowerCADD and PowerDWG -- we've caught ourselves forgetting on more than occasion to install the PowerDWG external and being confused when we couldn't open any DWG files |:) In PowerCADD v7 this isn't an issue since the PowerDWG Translator External is bundled with the application.

Option 1: Rename the file:
The simple solution/fix is to check the file name. It must have a DWG suffix. For example filename.dwg (filenames and suffix's are not case sensitive). If the file does not have a *.dwg suffix, PowerCADD will not display that file in the File menu > Open... dialog. The filenames will be dimmed as shown here:

Typically renaming the file by adding *.dwg will correct the problem. To rename the file, do this:

  1. click once on the file icon in the Finder
  2. press the Return key. The text is selected and ready to edit.
  3. the text of the file name will be selected.
  4. add .dwg at the end of the file name (note there is a dot before dwg)
  5. press the Return key

The file is now renamed and should appear in the File menu > Open... dialog . Proceed to open and translate the file as ususal.

Hint: If you try to double click a dwg file which does NOT have a *.dwg suffix, PowerCADD may try to open it and will display this warning dialog:


This is a bit misleading as even if the file is a DWG version that the Translator can open, that warning dialog still appears. To correct the problem simply rename the file as described earlier.

Option Two: An Incompatible Drawing: PowerCADD v6 only

This condition only applies if you are using PowerCADD v6 and PowerDWG v6. PowerCADD v7 can open AutoCAD release 10 through release 2006 file formats. Upgrading to PowerCADD 7 will correct the issue and is the most effective solution in the long run.

If, after adding the *.dwg suffix you see this error message when opening the file then you have an AutoCAD v2004 DWG file which the translator cannot open.


If this is the case, the best thing to do is contact the original file author and have them perform a Save As in AutoCAD where they can specify Save As R2000/LT2000 by simply selecting it from the drop down menu. Alternatively, we can take care of the translation for you . This isn't an uncommon problem even when sending files back and forth between consultants using AutoCAD. Not everyone uses the latest version of AutoCAD and older versions cannot open AutoCAD r2004 files. The problem and solution is the same for them as it is for folks using PowerCADD and PowerDWG.

Confirming if you have an AutoCAD r2004 or R2000 file:
How do you tell the difference between an AutoCAD r2000 verses r2004 file? If you suspect there is a file version problem, it's very easy to check manually even if you don't have a copy of AutoCAD. This technique works for both Mac OS and Windows Users. Mac OS X users can use TextEdit, Mac OS 9 users can use SimpleText and Windows users can use Note Pad or Word Pad. Of course, you can use any other type of word processor you like too, on any platform.

In Mac OS X the easy way to confirm it is in fact an R2004 file is to Drag and Drop the *.DWG file onto the Text Edit Application Icon. If the first word in the file is AC1018 you in fact do have an R2004 file. This picture is an example of what you would see:


In Mac OS X the easy way to confirm a file was saved as R2000 (aside from the fact the translator can open it) is again to drop the file onto TextEdit. The first word would read AC1015 and here's an example of how that would look:


We realize there appears to be little logic in what the first few characters read. Really -- does it make sense that an AutoCAD 2000 file would have AC1018 in the first line or would AC2000 make more sense? You be the judge, but in our view it's just one more example of the AutoDESK Wily E. Coyote approach to problem solving.

Still having problems?

If you've tried all these techniques and have reviewed the related links noted at the start of this article, all still isn't lost. You may want to take a look at our fee based File Translation or CADDcare services. The solution to the problem may be as simple as a phone call or email.

We hope that helps explain what's going on, why, and how you can work the problem with relatively little effort.

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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Compare ACAD version #

Here's a summary comparing the version numbers of AutoCAD when you open the file in a text editor as described above. For example, the table linked below tells you that AC015 is AutoCAD release 2000 and described each AC### and release version:
AC1027 AutoCAD 2013
AC1024 AutoCAD 2010/2011/2012
AC1021 AutoCAD 2007/2008/2009
AC1018 AutoCAD 2004/2005/2006
AC1015 AutoCAD 2000/2000i/2002
AC1014 Release 14
AC1012 Release 13
AC1009 Release 11/12
AC1006 Release 10
AC1004 Release 9
AC1003 Version 2.60
AC1002 Version 2.50
AC1001 Version 2.22
AC2.22 Version 2.22
AC2.21 Version 2.21
AC2.10 Version 2.10
AC1.50 Version 2.05
AC1.40 Version 1.40
AC1.2 Version 1.2
MC0.0 Version 1.0

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