Creating and managing Plot Styles on Mac

Here I was, happily using AutoCAD for mac, and I seem to come across problem after problem. This one involving Plot Styles. Up until this moment I hadn’t needed to create or manage my existing plot styles, as I used my existing .ctb files for this (made in AutoCAD for windows). Much to my surprise, and annoyance for that matter, AutoCAD for Mac doesn’t include a Plot Style manager…. That just doesn’t make any sense to me, as that is a very essential tool to correctly plot your drawings.

After searching online for a solution, I found the following workaround, which did the job… although it is what it is: Just a workaround.. So still kind of annoying in my opinion, but the best I could find for now:

Another omission in AutoCAD for Mac is the ability to create and edit CTB files (plot style tables). AutoCAD for Mac still uses plot styles when you plot, but there is no Plot Style Manager with which to change them. One workaround, is to use the free DraftSight program from Dassault/SolidWorks, which does support CTB files.

AutoCAD stores its CTB files in a folder called Plot Styles. Use the Finder to search for this folder. Or start the Print command in AutoCAD (File menu). Select the Advanced button. In the Print-Advanced dialog box that appears, open the drop-down list for Plot Style Table Name and select Reveal in Finder.

If you want to edit an existing AutoCAD for Mac file, copy it to DraftSight’s Print Styles folder:

/Library/Preferences/DraftSight/1.2.119/Print Styles/

Alternatively, you could start with one of DraftSight’s CTB files, make your changes, then Save As to AutoCAD’s Plot Styles folder

Download DraftSight from and install it on your Mac. Select Print from the File menu. In the Print dialog box, select Print Style in the drop-down list beneath the Orientation section.

This worked for me, although I think leaving out such a significant feature was a poor decision. But what do I know…!

Note: I have not installed the first update (released December 17th, 2010), as it would cause AutoCAD to become very unstable, and crashed every couple of minutes. See previous posting. This shouldn’t make a difference though, as the update did not include a Plot Style manager. That feature will probably be added in the next major release…. At least I hope it is.

Update 1: In Autocad 2012 for Mac there should now be a plot style manager. I haven’t had a chance to try out myself, but that is what I heard. If anyone knows more about it, please share!

Update 2: AutoCAD 2012 for Mac now has a Plot Style Table Editor! See this post. No need for an annoying workaround (unless you are still using the 2011 version…)

  10 comments for “Creating and managing Plot Styles on Mac

  1. Adalberto Vilela
    January 9, 2011 at 15:30

    Dear Peter,

    Thanks for your clarifications about this big issue. It’s unbelievable that Autodesk could release an AutoCAD version for Mac without a Plot Style Manager, an essential tool in my point of view, since I started to use the software in R14. One sadly solution: back to Windows to finish my drawing.

    Adalberto Vilela
    Brasilia, Brazil

    • admin
      January 9, 2011 at 15:40

      Yes, either resort back to the windows version to create the plot styles needed, or the free CAD software (DraftSight for Mac) I found in the workaround. Works either way. Or, do the extreme thing and ditch AutoCAD for Mac until the next version arrives…. That won’t be something I’ll do though, regardless of the missing Plot style manager.

      Did you update autoCAD for mac by the way? Just wondering if it worked for you, or became horribly unstable (as it did with me)?

  2. alejandro
    June 15, 2011 at 19:20

    I also had that problem when updating AutoCad for Mac, it was very unstable and i had to uninstall it. I wonder why Autodesk leaved out the Plot style feature since its basic for doing a good job…

  3. Konstantinos
    September 26, 2011 at 11:07


    I am sorry but the link doesn’t actually shows something. Thank you anyway for the try to enlight us.

    • September 26, 2011 at 11:13

      Thanks for noticing. Will do something about it as soon as possible

  4. cn
    April 17, 2012 at 20:22

    So I have downloaded DraftSight, and am ready to modify the ctb files the way you mentioned, but…how do you do that? I think I want to create a new plot style table from scratch and then import it into my autodesk. If you could get me pointed in the right direction as to where to start, it would be greatly appreciated.

    • April 26, 2012 at 20:19

      It has been a little while, but if you are using AutoCAD for Mac 2012, you can create and edit your .ctb files from within AutoCAD. This feature was/is not available for AutoCAD for Mac 2011, hence the need for an app such as DraftSight. I no longer have DraftSight installed, so pointing you in the right direction is a little hard for me to do right now. But it was pretty straightforward, and if you are familiar with CAD software (such as AutoCAD) it isn’t hard to find.

      If you read my post it says:

      Select Print from the File menu. In the Print dialog box, select Print Style in the drop-down list beneath the Orientation section.

      After creating your plot style, just copy it to your AutoCad plot style folder, and it’s available to use in AutoCad for Mac 2011.

      My suggestion though, is to upgrade to AutoCad for Mac 2012.

  5. May 14, 2012 at 11:03

    I’ve been trying to figure this out for a couple of hours. The documentation is terrible- written only for complete experts, I guess, who can understand broad hints about how to get somewhere. When I use the File->Plot Styles menu, it takes me to the Finder, which shows me the plot styles – but then there is NO WAY to open them! After a lot of trial and error, I discovered the AutoCAD command-line “PLOTSTYLE” allows you to select a plot style, then opens it in the plot style editor! OK… so how do I assign a plot style to my drawing? No freakin’ idea. Maybe I’ll just go slam my head into a brick wall for a couple of hours… about the same effect!

  6. May 14, 2012 at 11:37

    Another few minutes of gooooogling and I found the answer:

    Re: Plot Styles with AutoCad for Mac 2012
    08-29-2011 01:18 PM in reply to: katie1994

    File -> Page Setup Manager. Select the gear and choose edit. (or choose the plus to create a new style) In the dialog box that pops up, there is a tiny little triangle in a tiny little grey circle in the bottom righthand corner.

    You can also get there in the current page setup style by typing “Plot” at the command line, then click on the Edit Page Setup button, then look for the little triangle in the lower right hand corner.

    In your case, the above is after you have imported your existing file.”


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