Xrefs are Missing or Not Loading When You Open Your Drawing
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Xrefs are Missing or Not Loading When You Open Your Drawing


When you open a drawing that contains Xrefs, the Xrefs are not opening correctly. AutoCAD might be losing the Xref paths, or they may be unresolved, not referencing correctly, or simply not showing up. You might see the proper file names or paths of the Xrefs in the External References Manager, but you will not be able to reload or reattach the problematic Xrefs.


You may also receive one or more of the following error messages for each of the problematic Xrefs:

  • Drawing may need recovery.
  • <file name> reference file may have changed since host drawing was last saved.
  • Error: Unable to load <file name>.
  • It is recommended you open and resave the Xref file to remove excess scales.



Missing Xrefs can have several possible causes, including:

  • An incorrect Xref path
  • Nested Xrefs (that is, Xrefs within your Xrefs)
  • Drawing corruption


Step 1: Check the Xref path


1A. Open the External References Manager by typing XREF in the Command line and pressing Enter.


Check the entry in the Status column for the missing Xref. If the file is showing up as Not Found, it might be because:

  • You have a bad connection to the location where that Xref is stored, or
  • The Xref path is incorrect.
External References Manager by typing XREF




1B. Have your IT administrator check and, if necessary, troubleshoot your network connection to the location where the Xref is stored.




open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder



1C. Once you're sure you have a good connection to the location of the Xref, open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder where that file is stored (example: L: My Drive/CAD Drawings).




1D. Now check the Saved Path that's listed for the Xref in the External References Manager, and compare it with the path to the same file in Windows Explorer.


Check every part of this path to verify that it's an exact match with the path to the file. In the example below, the path in the External References Manager is pointing to a different letter drive (X:) from the letter drive in the Windows Explorer path.



Check the Saved Path


If this issue happens often, it's usually a case where two computers accessing the same project files are looking at a location differently. The mapped letter drive might be different (as in our example), or one folder in the path might be named slightly differently. For example, it may contain a hyphen or underscore instead of a space.



1E. Have your IT administrator verify that both computers are accessing shared folders using the exact same mapped letter drive path.




1F. Change the Xref path to the correct path.




1G. Verify that the Xref shows up as Loaded in the Status column. Then check the Saved Path against the path to the Xref file in Windows Explorer again to ensure they match.


Verify that the Xref shows up



1H. Save and close the drawing. Then reopen the drawing and check the Xref path again. Is the path still correct in the External References Manager?

  • Yes, the Xref path is still correct: You've resolved the issue.
  • No, the Xref path is incorrect or has reverted back, or the Xref is still not loaded: Move on to the next step.



Step 2: Check for a nested Xref

If you fix a broken path and the Xref loads, but the fix does not stick after saving, the issue could be the result of a nested Xref.

A nested Xref is a file that is Xrefed into another file, and then that second file is Xrefed into your drawing – an Xref within an Xref. This issue is often the result of Xrefing a file into your drawing as an attachment rather than as an overlay. More about nested Xrefs and the Attachment setting >


2A. Check the External References Manager to see which one might also have the problematic file Xrefed into it.


For example, if the missing Xref is a planting plan, you might have it Xrefed into an irrigation plan, which is then Xrefed into your main drawing.

Xrefed into an irrigation plan




Check the External References Manager

2B. Check the External References Manager in that file. Is the file that's missing from your main drawing also Xrefed into this file?


If so, you're dealing with a nested Xref.

If you don't see the missing Xref here, check any other files you've Xrefed into your main drawing in the same way, until you find the missing Xref.


If necessary, change the path to the Xref here as you did in your main drawing. Then save the file.




2C. In the main drawing, verify that the paths to both these files are listed correctly in the External References Manager. You may need to click the Refresh button (pictured below) to show the change.


Click Refresh to shoiw the change



Nested Xrefs can nest more than one level. You might need to continue opening Xrefs until you find the one that really references the path that isn't being found.


Still having an issue? Move on to the next step.



Step 3: Check for corruption

Drawing corruption in your Xrefs is a common cause of this issue. Here's how to either resolve it:


3A. Follow our steps to clean your drawing and all Xrefs.


3B. (if necessary) Are the Xrefs showing up correctly?

  • Yes: You've resolved the issue.
  • No: Try detaching and reattaching all Xrefs.


3C. (if necessary) If your Xrefs are still not attaching correctly, send us a technical support ticket that includes the drawing and all Xrefs.




Step 4: Check your settings for Demand load Object ARX apps in the CAD Options

4A. Open the Options dialog box:



Manage ribbon, options button

Manage ribbon, Options button




type Options in the Command line





right-click in the Command line and select Options from the menu

Right-click in the Command line and select Options

Tools pull-down menu




4B. The Options dialog box will open.


Select the Open and Save tab, and ensure that the Demand load Object ARX apps menu is set to Object detect and command invoke.


Click OK to save the change.

Object detect and command invoke
Last modified on Apr 25, 2022


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