Converting a .mxd to .dxf is something we need to do, and we do not only need the layers but also the layout of a map on our .mxd to be transfered to .dxf. I've done some research on the internet but it seems like an very difficult feat.

In the ArcGIS Discussion Forums, some people mention the possiblity of going from .mxd to .ai (Adoble Illustrator) followed by a conversion from .ai to .dxf, have any one tried it ?

Others indicate that they are working with .mxd to .pdf then .pdf to .dxf, I gave this a try but the layout is not well converted.

Is there any other way we might proceed to have better results ?


There are several ArcGIS Ideas which, if implemented, would deliver the functionality that you seek.

While awaiting Answers that describe workarounds, I recommend that you add your vote to:

  1. Export layout view to 3D CAD
  2. .dwg export directly from .mxd which also discusses one of the workarounds that you have been looking at
  3. AutoCAD DXF/DWG extract

Fme desktop 2014 can read and translate the mxd.


  • Could it translate the layout as well ? – Akheloes Mar 12 '14 at 15:55
  • For the moment I never test this reader. – user3120 Mar 12 '14 at 16:01
  • In all honesty I don't understand why you pointed that link, all it discusses is translation of an .mxd file between ArcGIS versions (10.1 and 10 for example) ; if it mentions anywhere translation from .mxd to .dxf, please do make a quote from it. Thanks. – Akheloes Mar 12 '14 at 16:34
  • I updated the link. – user3120 Mar 12 '14 at 16:37
  • Thank you, but the conversion here is for feature datasets, the layout is still a problem. – Akheloes Mar 12 '14 at 17:27

This may be what you are looking for, smartexporter.dxf


There is a trial version on the site.

  • 2
    Please add information about how to use it and why it is a solution. i.e. get the mxd layout exported to the dxf. – Brad Nesom Aug 5 '15 at 16:10
  • 1.) Download the trial version, 2.) Install it, 3.) Open the MXD, 4.) Go to File/Export Map in ArcGIS, 5.) Choose SmartExport.dxf. Line styles, fills, and symbols are mostly retained as they look in the MXD. The layers in the MXD are retained in the .dxf. The only issue with this program is if the feature dataset has "z-values", they will not carry over in the .dxf. Otherwise, it is quite a bit quicker to export .dxf than to create CAD fields, populate the CAD fields with layer names, colors, etc. in ArcGIS. – Scott C. Carter Aug 25 '16 at 19:05
  • smartexporter.dxf <gisexpertsolutions.com> works the best among other options. I noticed that compound line type such as a line type with dash on top and solid on the bottom seemed does not export. Other than that it works a lot better than MXD->ai->CAD. Though, the program is almost $1000 which is a big draw back. I would use 30 days free trial and re-download on another computer when I need to convert MXD to CAD. Thanks for the great info! – Jay Dec 15 '16 at 7:56
  • Please use the edit button beneath your answer to provide any requested information. – PolyGeo Dec 15 '16 at 8:21

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