First Looks: Free TurboViewer for iOS

A mobile 2D and 3D drawings viewer for AEC professionals

Collaboration is the foundation of engineering, and being able to show others your designs on the spot instead of on a workstation can facilitate more productive brainstorms, such as allowing you to bring your work to a construction site or an assembly line. If you have a finished design and need to be mobile for a meeting, or you are out in the field and find you need to view the design for a part, there are some incredible apps out there to address these needs. They can be powerful, inexpensive and, in some cases, free.


Viewer apps like TurboViewer, TurboViewer X and TurboViewer Pro allow AutoCAD users to view a variety of 2D and 3D CAD files. I downloaded the free version of TurboViewer for iOS (though it is available for Android), which allows you to view DWG, DWF, DXF and JPG files. When you start it up, you are prompted to share your contacts to enable collaboration. One click and contacts are imported. Easy enough. Your collaborators then get an email, which says the following: 

Adding you to my mobile viewing network, powered by award-winning TurboViewer.

To view my designs on 

–  Mobile, tap here
AutoCAD desktop, click here
Revit desktop, click here

Pretty straightforward. But how does the viewer look?

A dropdown sample list of nine DWG and DWF files pop up so you can immediately test the functionality of the viewer. I chose the Wall-E drawing. It loads quickly, so I test out the 3D orbit, pan and zoom, which are all pretty smooth.



Two finger pinch to zoom in or out, one finger to spin the file in any direction. Great, so now I can pan, zoom and 3D orbit around the sample DWG and DWF files on a phone or tablet. In settings, you can turn “2D/3D Navigation Mode” on to orbit 3D drawings or pan 2D drawings with one finger. When it’s off, you can only use 2D pan navigation. Similarly, you can turn on the “Free Transform” option to rotate by two fingers. Off will give you a constrained orbit. I recommend leaving both of these options on.



It’s very easy to send sample drawing files to an email address, just click the familiar send button in the top right corner. Simple.


Next let’s see how easy it is to import your own drawing files. We’ll start by sending a DWG file to my email, and opening it with TurboViewer. I picked a small drawing (351K) and sent it to myself. I click on it in my iPhone email, click open with TurboViewer, and it pops right up in viewing mode. After I save it, a new folder called “Inbox” is automatically generated. I can now click on any compatible file in my email on my iPhone, open it with TurboViewer and save it to my “Inbox” folder within TurboViewer.


You can also view files through Web downloads, FTP, Dropbox, WebDAV, iCloud and other cloud-based storage systems. I tried opening a file through Dropbox, and it was pretty straightforward. What wasn’t so straightforward was accessing my cloud folders with TurboViewer. The user interface needs a bit of work here. It is very easy to add cloud folders, but you can’t access them directly from the app. The other thing I didn’t like is that you could only save one screenshot at a time to share with others.




The UI is relatively intuitive, but you do need a few tries to find exactly what you are looking for. I wanted to make a straight line markup with text to note the height of the object, then send it out by email. To share them you have to hit the settings gear, click the camera, go back to the settings gear and click on the people icon after you’ve made your markups.



As I review more and more engineering apps on this site, we’ll see which ones have the best performance. So far TurboViewer is the fastest 2D and 3D drawing viewer I’ve reviewed on any platform.


There’s an online help system if you get stuck or need help familiarizing yourself with certain operations. It’s really cool that you get an instant full screen preview while a drawing is loading. If you need to cancel the file while it’s uploading, the process is easy and quick, which should save you a bit of time. You can also bring back your AutoCAD views to rapidly display whatever you consider to be the best version of your design. Visual fidelity is relatively high because TurboViewer was built to support AutoCAD line types. Finally, the navigation shifts modes automatically to best accommodate 2D or 3D drawings, but keeps it pretty smooth.


There are YouTube video links built into the “?” icon, and there is a great FAQ page that can answer a lot of questions you may have about the TurboViewer, TurboViewer X and TurboViewer Pro apps.  The main differences are that there are no annoying banner ads in TurboViewer X, you can switch layers on/off and you can view layouts. In TurboViewer Pro you can view SKP, 3DS, OBJ and tens more formats (though I think they are first converted to a DWG on the cloud). Additionally, there are 3D shade modes, x-ray and the markup has better autoshape features.

Pricing and Availability


There are three versions of this app: TurboViewer (free), TurboViewer X, ($6.99), and TurboViewer Pro ($19.99). They were designed by IMSI/Design (makers of TurboCAD) for the mobile AEC crowd and are available on both Android and iOS.


Caution: after looking at the user reviews on the Google Play TurboViewer Pro site for Android, it seems as though the iOS version functions better.


See Also:

IMSI Design Ships TurboApps SDK for iOS, Android: This site has some great information for developers interested in exploring the TurboApps SDK.