Unable to save to drawing....

It is not uncommon to see this problem around the AutoCAD world. You press Ctrl+S or click the save icon and you get a message that says something like this:

"Unable to save to drawing K:\mypath\mydrawing.dwg
Drawing saved to SAV98C2.tmp"

In order to understand why this error happens, you need to understand how AutoCAD saves a drawing.

When you save a named drawing in AutoCAD, it actually does this (*steps 2 and 3 only occur if you have .BAK file creation enabled)

  1. Writes the contents of the editor to a .TMP file in the same location as the .DWG. (for example: sav8c.tmp)
  2. * Deletes the existing .BAK file
  3. * Renames the existing .DWG to .BAK
  4. Renames the .TMP file that is just created to .DWG

So if the .TMP file is getting created, AutoCAD is doing its job and saving the file but the O/S, for some reason, is not letting AutoCAD finish the save because it is blocking that last step, the .TMP->.DWG rename. The question is why?

  • The most likely culprit is network issues. Try saving the drawing to a local drive. Does the issue go away?
  • I have heard of cases where the network connection was unreliable and the O/S loses track of what session of AutoCAD has a particular drawing open. This could be the cause also.
  • Certain network storage devices may be incompatible with AutoCAD. Check with your IS/IT people. Has anything changed recently?
  • Unlikely, but it's possible that you have WRITE access but not DELETE access to the location from where you opened the drawing.

In the meantime, do not fear, your work is not lost. You can manually rename the .TMP file to .DWG and maybe start working locally until you can solve the problem.

Note: While looking in the directory where your drawing is located, you might see files with the file extension .DWL and .DWL2. These files have nothing to do with AutoCAD's saving issue. A lot of people will say to delete these files to solve the problem and that is a fallacy. Those two files are only used by the WHOHAS command. File locking is handled 100% by the O/S.

See also: Saving your Drawing and The Autosave Mystery


About two or three times a year, I also see, "Unable to save drawing - command in progress," when a user tries a qsave. When this comes up, the command SAVE (full save) usually works.

Great post I found it really interesting.

I appear to have a similar problem to the one described above. While working on a project, the system appears to try to do an autosave. The progress bar on the bottom of the screen says "Saving to xxxxx.tmp" the progress bar stops at 49% and never finishes. I have left it for several minutes to see if it was just a longer process. But, in the end I have to go to task manager and end autocad. I then loose some of the functions of Civil3D AutoCAD (I do not get the dialog box when doing a the file open command). I end up uninstalling everything and reinstalling it to fix the problem. Then it happens again (I reinstalled Civil 3D three times yesterday, four times on Saturday last!!!). All files are stored on a raid system location on the local workstation. Plenty of room on the drives. I'm using IDS 2014 with Service Pack 1. I use a PC with an I7 processor 12g ram.

Check your temporary drive location (open Explorer and type in %temp% in the address bar). If there are a lot (thousands) of files there, clean this up as much as possible. I have seen cases where AutoCAD flakes out when the %temp% location is "full" (not really filling the disk up, but where there are thousands of files and directories just under %temp%)

Also, if the main problem is you do not get the file selection dialog after a crash, type in FILEDIA and set it to 1.


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