Full Application Downloads Via the Autodesk Desktop App

By John Semel | IT

For many years, Autodesk has offered a variety of methods for users to download software. We’ve documented some of these already in our blog, including downloads via the Virtual Agent and downloads from your Autodesk Account.

Autodesk has introduced another option, specifically pushing out full application downloads via the new Autodesk Desktop App. This has many implications for how firms manage rollouts of new versions and new software.

For small firms and standalone installations, this provides a direct method to download the latest versions of the software. However, many firms may also want to enact stricter controls over this feature, as it may result in large downloads to individual workstations, repetition of downloads, and users accessing software before the firm is ready.

It is critical to note that by default, all users will receive the full apps via the Desktop App. If you want to change this, the Contract Manager has several options.

In addition, users at firms on maintenance contracts (i.e. perpetual licenses) will see options for all applications included in the contract. Subscription users will only see applications specifically assigned to them.

Since this can have a big impact on how applications are deployed, let’s look at the new controls available to manage these systems. Access to these controls is only available to Contract Managers and Software Coordinators.

The first is a global control over downloads. Log into your firm’s Autodesk Account at and click on the “Gears” icon near the upper right corner.

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You’ll see a screen that lets you set global options for the firm. From here, you can allow downloads, block them, or restrict them to specific Autodesk Account devices.

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Please note that if you block product and update downloads on the global level, this only applies to the Desktop App. Users can still download products and updates via their Autodesk Account, or the Virtual Agent.

If you choose to control it at the device level, you will see a list of devices. This is based off of users logging into the Autodesk Account in Desktop App:

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A second option is on the product level. When viewing the Products and Services, expand the product and click Access Control:

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This will now give you options for controlling the download.

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At the time of writing, it is our understanding that the settings on the individual product will override the global settings. If the “Make Available To” box is unchecked, the product will use the global settings.

Another setting is on the user level. Navigate to the Users tab, and click Edit Access.

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At the top, you will see an option for “Product Downloads.” Again, by default this is checked.

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Although this is not specified in the interface, at the time of writing list checkbox only applies to the Autodesk Account. It has no effect on the Desktop App.

When downloads are allowed, the application will show up in the Desktop App, including information on the serial number:


When you install applications this way, it uses the same mechanism as the “Download Now” options for installation, and will keep a relatively small setup file in your Desktop App’s content directory.

It is highly recommended that firms develop a strategy for this change in Autodesk software distribution as soon as possible. It may be best to temporarily block application downloads on the global level, in order to avoid possible issues, and then adjust later per the firm’s policies.

Finally, some of the issues here are related to the broader issue of patch management, which is an increasingly important issue for firms today. You may prefer to use 3rd party options to push out the applications, as well as to handle patch management in general. We recommend you review our post on Autodesk patch management strategies for a brief discussion of the options.


If you have questions about these procedures, please email us at or by phone at 888-768-7568.


Published on June 17, 2016 in IT.

About the Author

John has been the Director of IT at Microsol since 2014. Prior to that, he worked with architecture firms. He is an expert in multi-site collaboration technologies, licensing, subscription software, CAD & BIM specific hardware & digital imaging.