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6 Tips To Get The Most Out of LibreCAD Free CAD Software

Ryan Dube 01-03-2012

free cad softwareFinding good, free CAD software is not an easy task. There are plenty of great 2D CAD programs out there, like TurboCAD or AutoCAD, but how many quality options are completely free?


You could always try and use free drawing apps out there, like the ones that Saikat reviewed Love Doodles? Here Are 8 Websites To Show Your Love For Doodling Read More – but they will not offer the accuracy or features that 2d CAD software offers.

There is one free CAD software package that Angela briefly covered in 2011 called LibreCAD Free CAD Drawing for Linux, Windows & Mac Using LibreCAD LibreCAD Beta 4 is a free 2D open source CAD client, which can be used for all manner of 2D design, including architectural plans, engineering drafting, graphic design and the design of mechanical parts. The... Read More . In that article, Angela introduced you to the drawing pane, and how to start off creating some basic shapes and dimensions.

Since then, the software has been updated a couple of times, with the most recent update on February 8th, 2012. If you are hard up for cash, but really need high-quality 2D CAD software, I’m going to show you a few quick tips to take full advantage of what LibreCAD  has to offer.

LibreCAD is Free CAD Software You Can Depend On

LibreCAD is available for multiple OS platforms, including Mac, Windows or Linux – so there’s goodness here for everyone.

Tip #1 – Set Your Default Units to Save Time

The first tip is to slow down during the installation and select the default units that you’re most likely willing to use when you launch this software.


free cad software

This can save you a lot of time later when you open up new drawings – the software will automatically use the units that you prefer.

Tip #2 – Use Tooltips to Navigate the Button Menu

When you first run LibreCAD, you’ll find all of the drawing tools condensed into just a few buttons on the left side of the screen. Each of these tools contains the entire subset of additional tools. For example, when you click the “line” tool, there’s an array of additional tools that you can use to draw lines, and shapes that contain lines.
cad design software
The sign of well-written software is that when you hover your mouse over a button, it shows you a tool-tip of what that graphical button means. With LibreCAD, if you’re confused about the symbol on a button, just hover the mouse over the symbol for tips.
cad design software
No matter how complicated the function of the button, the tooltip will explain its purpose to you.
cad design software
As you can see above, I’ve started drawing the floorplan for a section of our house.

Tip #3 – Use Snap to Grid to Make Drawing Easier

If you’ve ever used non-CAD drawing software, then you know that creating straight lines and aligning objects on the drawing isn’t always easy.


open source cad software

In LibreCAD, you can enable snap-to-grid so that the lines and shapes you draw snap to the dot-grid, making it a cinch to align elements of the drawing as you go.

Tip #4 – Use Layers to Build Your Drawing

In my opinion, the best thing about drawing with CAD software is the fact that you can create “layers”, which are basically drawings that can be placed “on top” of other drawings. It’s soft of like a transparent sheet with specific items drawn on it, that you can add or remove on top of an existing drawing.

Use the “Layer” menu item to add a new layer to your drawing, and select a color for the objects in that layer.
open source cad software
Now, as you start drawing you’ll notice that all of the lines use the default color for that layer. As you’re working through developing your overall drawing, this is an excellent way to keep object types or larger components of your drawing well organized.
6 Tips To Get The Most Out of LibreCAD Free CAD Software librecad7
When you want to focus on that group of objects or just remove the confusion for the rest of your drawing, you can just add and remove layers so that you can focus more easily on the details.


Tip #5 – Use Text Throughout the Drawing

This tip really depends upon the type of drawing that you’re working on, but in most cases you really can’t have too many labels in a drawing. Labels allow you to spell out what objects are supposed to be, or the purpose for different areas of your drawings.

Text is really easy to add in LibreCAD. Just click on the Text button in the left menu, then choose the size, font and alignment.

open source cad software

When you’re done with the formatting, you can just place the text anywhere on the drawing that you like.


6 Tips To Get The Most Out of LibreCAD Free CAD Software librecad9In this example, I’ve placed text in the same layer as the furniture, but a lot of people prefer to do all of the drawing text inside its own unique layer.

Tip #6 – Taking Measurements Inside the Drawing

Another really cool feature that is common for CAD drawing tools like this – but especially easy inside LibreCAD – is the ability to quickly measure lengths and dimensions right inside the drawing.

You can do this by clicking the line measurement tool in the left button menu, and then just clicking on two points in the drawing. The distance between those two points (using your default units – remember that?) prints out in the bottom status display pane.
free cad software
As you can see, LibreCAD is not only really easy to use free CAD software, it’s also highly functional. These six tips are only the tip of the iceburg. As you continue to explore the software and build your own drawings, I’m sure you’ll discover your own favorite features.

Have you ever tried LibreCAD? Do you have any of your own tips that you can share with other readers? Share your thoughts about the software in the comments section below.

Image Credit: CAD Software Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Computer-Aided Design, Drawing Software, Image Editor.

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  1. Cy O'Hara
    December 5, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Hi, Thank you for your most appreciated tips. Yes, for me, the only thing missing for this greatly valued product, is keyboard short cuts.
    Many thanks,

  2. David
    February 10, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Seams great , but I've since I've been struggling for like 20 minutes trying to figure out how to draw ONE SINGLE LINE! to a length a need. I've been on the lookout for something else. Why cant you write it in the command line like every other CAD?

  3. Pushkin Passey
    March 2, 2012 at 1:52 am

    An infinitely better option than LibreCAD is DraftSight by Dassault Systemes (the company which makes Catia and SolidWorks). It's free for commercial and personal use as well as being a first cousin of AutoCAD in terms of commands and interface.

    • Randrew
      February 7, 2020 at 10:02 pm

      No longer free, unfortunately.

  4. Naz
    March 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I think I might give it a try.  I have used AutoCAD and made the jump over to TurboCAD, but I kinda miss the command line, however, for government workers you get TurboCAD for a fraction of the price of AutoCAD. It still doesn't beat free so worth a try.

  5. Martin
    March 1, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I still prefer Google Sketchup.