How to publish SOLIDWORKS Composer content in a PDF document

Article by John Lee, CSWE updated June 25, 2024


SOLIDWORKS Composer content can be published in a PDF document in three different formats:

  • Universal 3D: This format displays as 3D data.
  • SMG: displays an SMG file in an embedded SOLIDWORKS Composer player.
  • Preview image: displays as a 2D image.

In this blog article I will talk about the steps of how to embed composer player file (3D content) inside an Adobe PDF (Reader).

At the time this article was updated, only the 32-bit version of Adobe Acrobat Reader supports Composer content.  One of the objectives of this article is to ensure that ONLY that version exists on the computer.

STEP 1: Remove 64-bit Adobe Acrobat Reader from the system

From our experience, 64-bit Adobe overrides 32-bit and prevents it from running, and at time of writing this article only 32-bit Adobe supports publication from Composer.  Therefore, 64-bit needs to be removed.  64-bit can bit a bit stubborn to eradicate, but we have a way to confirm its demise: invoke Task Manager > Processes tab.  If 64-bit is running, it will likely be called out here.  If 32-bit version is running, from our experience it sometimes is called out, other times not.

Confirmation that 64-bit version is still present on the system

Confirmation that Adobe Acrobat Reader is 32-bit version.  The “32 bit” may or may not be shown.

…so if it still says “64-bit” then this task is not yet complete.  To ensure clean removal of 64-bit version:

  1. For starters, click Start button > type “control” > select Control Panel > Programs and Features:  look for any instances of Adobe Acrobat Reader, which will be 64-bit by default, and remove them:  right-click > Uninstall.
  2. Check in C:\Program Files\Adobe    …this would be the 64-bit instance, which must be removed.  Consider deleting any data found here.
    • Note:  C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\ path is for 32-bit (x86 is the name for what has become 32-bit architecture), whereas the C:\Program Files\Adobe\ path is for 64-bit which we need to remove from the system.
  3. Restart the system this way (not Shut Down)
  4. Install 32-bit version from here:, ensuring to select 32-bit as the Version.
  5. Re-check in Task Manager to confirm that 64-bit version (shown in above screen shot) is not running.  If Adobe Acrobat Reader (without the 64-bit callout) is running, then this part of the task is completed.
  6. If still having issues, try running AcroCleaner removal tool available from Adobe.  At time of writing this, it can be found here: AcroCleaner — Acrobat Desktop Tools and Utilities (

STEP 2: Copy the adobe acrobat plug-in files from composer installation location to 32-bit Adobe Reader/Acrobat installation folder:

We need Adobe Acrobat plug-in to view the PDF files containing SOLIDWORKS Composer SMG enhanced content.  This plug-in is automatically installed with SOLIDWORKS Composer or SOLIDWORKS Composer Player.

If your colleagues do not have composer or composer player installed on their machine they will not be able to view content in this PDF file. So, you will have to share this plug-in files with them, to view this PDF.

This add-in works with either Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader version 7.0.7 or later.

  • When we install Composer or Composer player, plug-in files composerplayercontrol.dll and composerplayerreader.api are installed along, in the composer installation directory < C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS Corp\SOLIDWORKS Composer\Plugins\acrobat\reader\plug_ins. This is default installation location.If you are using the writer then copy the files from writer folder.
  • Copy all the files to the adobe directory <C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader\plug_ins.
Composer Installation directory

Composer Installation directory

STEP 3: Publish to PDF

Now Go to File > Publish > PDF and select SMG (enhanced content) for embedded 3d file > Save.


Save as dialog box-options

STEP 4: Review the PDF

Now open the PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click on the area/window where you would expect the graphics to appear.  Wait a moment while it loads the content…

If Composer Player window doesn’t start, then in Acrobat go to Edit > Preferences > Security (enhanced) > Deselect Enable protected mode at start up 

You can zoom, rotate, switch views and play the animation within PDF file.

PDF with SMG content

PDF with SMG content

Learn more about SOLIDWORKS Composer

Attend a SOLIDWORKS Composer training course either in a classroom near you or live online.

Related Links

Certified SOLIDWORKS Services available from Javelin

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John Lee, CSWE

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWE with fifteen years of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.