Autodesk Licensing

Autodesk has made several changes to their software licensing model over the past few years. Starting with retiring new maintenance plans and migrating existing maintenance plans to subscription plans. As part of this transition, standalone license activations based on a serial number were changed to named user licenses based on an individual’s Autodesk ID. The latest change is the retirement of multi-user network licensing and migrating existing multi-user licenses to named user licensing, known as the Transition to Named User.

We are currently in the middle of the Transition to Named User rollout. Due to challenges from the pandemic, the timeline has been extended several times. Initially set to begin May 2020, then pushed to August 2020. And most recently extended to allow customers the option to renew existing multi-user licensing and make the transition to named user at a later date. One of the biggest questions most have during this transition is from a technical standpoint, how do I change my existing environment? In this article we will address that question in detail.

Transition to Named User Offer

The Transition to Named User offer from Autodesk is a 2:1 trade in offer that you can take advantage of when renewing existing multi-user licenses. Subscriptions with multi-user will retire and can no longer be renewed after August 7, 2022. With that in mind, migrating those multi-user licenses to named user licensing with the 2:1 offer in most cases is your best path forward. As of this writing, the offer currently reads as:

“At your next renewal before August 7, 2023, trade in one multi-user subscription for two single user subscriptions at a cost consistent with what you pay today.”

The intent of this article is to address the technical side of this transition, so I will not dive any deeper into the trade in offer, and its intricacies. Autodesk has some great FAQs or reach out to Autodesk or your Autodesk Partner for more information.

Planning for the Transition

If you are getting ready to migrate your existing environment, take a deep breath, it is not as difficult as you may think. There are several different ways to approach the migration, with a bit of planning and coordination it can be done quickly with no down time.

The typical timeline for transition I like to break into three parts. Plan, Migrate, and Clean Up. The planning phase can begin now, it is never too early to start planning! The migration phase starts the day of renewal, continuing 30 days past renewal. And finally, the cleanup phase.

Because named user licensing is as it sounds, assigned to a named individual, the first step is to determine the number of licenses you are going to need, and who specifically those individuals are. The great thing about multi-user licensing is you can capture usage data and trends to help you better understand your company’s software usage and needs. If you are not currently gathering usage data, there are several great applications for gathering both current and historical data from LMTOOLS on the Autodesk App Store. OpenLM and JTB FlexReport are two that I have used and work well. The sooner you start capturing that information, the more detailed, over time statistics you will have.

Once you have identified the individuals who will need to be assigned a license, gather their First Name, Last Name, and Email so you can add them to the Autodesk User Management portal in your Autodesk Account. Users can be manually added one at a time or imported from a .csv file. You can start adding users to the User Management list anytime, however the single user licenses will not be available to assign to them until renewal day. You will need to be either a primary or secondary admin for your Autodesk licensing to add users.

A common ‘gotcha’ I see in this step stems from the ‘Teams’ function in Autodesk Account. Teams give you the ability to break subscriptions up into groups called teams. You can change the name of an existing team, but you cannot add/remove teams, or change what licenses are on each team yourself. You need to contact Autodesk to make these changes for you. If you have multiple teams, and a user needs licenses from multiple teams, they must be added to both teams. So be aware if you have multiple teams, as you add users, that you are adding them to the correct team.

The next step in planning is deciding which migration method is going to work best for you and prepare for that rollout.  More on those methods in the next section. Because the single user licenses will not be available until the first day of the new contract, you will need to wait until renewal date to change license type on your software.

With your plan for moving forward in place, the next step begins once your contract has renewed, and the new licenses are available in your Autodesk Account.

Migrating Existing Software

Once renewal date hits, you have a built-in 30-day window with your existing multi-user licenses to migrate before the license file expires. This means although your multi-user licenses are traded in, they will continue to function for 30 days to give you time to make the transition seamlessly.

The first step before changing license type, is to assign users a single user license in the Autodesk Account. If you have already pre-added your users, you can go to User Management ► By Product, select the product you want to assign, and click Assign Users. You can select users by typing their name, or email. You can also do an ‘Import to Assign’ on that same window. This allows you to upload a .csv file containing users you want assigned.  A template for the .csv file is shown on the import window. One gotcha I see often is in the .csv file be sure you do not have any spaces after the names or emails, a space causes a formatting error during upload. Your .csv file can contain both users already added to the Account, and new users you want added to the account. If they are not yet added, the import will also add them as a user and assign them a license. If a user in the list already has the license assigned, they will be skipped.

There are two strategies for migration, Admins change all licenses with a global tool, or user’s change their own. Depending on the number of users, physical location of each workstation etc. either option or a hybrid of both can be used.

The simplest method of changing license type is for the user to open the software and go to Help ► About <Software Title> ► Manage license within the software. This brings up the License Manager window, with a link to ‘Change License Type’. This will launch the license changer window. Select, ‘Sign in with Autodesk ID’ and sign in to finish activation. This process will need to be done for each software title and release year. This also will need to be done within the 30-day window, once the network license file has expired, the software will no longer launch, rendering this option not possible.

For smaller user bases, individuals working offsite, etc. this is a good option. It is easy to do and can be done by an end user. What I recommend if you want to go this route is send out an email to all users with instructions on how to make the change, and a deadline to make the change by 15-20 days into the 30-day window. Then, on the day after your deadline, either shut off the license service to see who can no longer launch their software or query the license server to see who is still pulling a network license. Inevitably you will have users that did not make the change. Uncovering those during the 30 days, allows the user the ability to still make the change before the license file expires.

If the license type is not changed via the change license type during that 30-day window, they will need to be changed manually outside of the software.

There are two processes for manually changing license type, which one to use depends on the release year of the software. For 2017-2019 release years, you can delete, or change a text file that holds the license type information. For 2020+ release years, a command line utility, Autodesk Licensing Installer Helper Tool is used to change the license type.

The licensing type information for 2017-2019 software is stored at C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\CLM\LGS. There is a subfolder, that begins with the product key for the product and year of each installed software. Inside that folder is a text file,, that holds a single line of text with the license type. Editing that file with notepad, you can easily change license type. If you are migrating from a multi-user install it will read ‘_NETWORK’. Changing that to ‘_USER’, (without the quotations) then saving the file will change the license type. Like the previous method, this will need to be done for each title and release year of software you want to change.

If you do not want to change each individual file, you can also delete the entire C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\CLM\LGS folder. On next launch of each software title and year, the user will be prompted to select license type. They will select, ‘Sign in with Autodesk ID’ and sign in to finish activation. As this is done in each software, the files will be re-created automatically.

For the 2020 and later versions, you will use the Autodesk Licensing Installer Helper Tool, AdskLicensingInstHelper.exe.

1. Start by opening an elevated command prompt. Click the windows icon in bottom left corner of your screen and type “cmd”, right click on the ‘Command Prompt’ app and select, “Run as Administrator”.

2. Switch to the AdskLicensingInstHelper installation directory with the command:"cd %CommonProgramFiles(x86)%\Autodesk Shared\AdskLicensing\Current\helper\".

3. Run the reset command: AdskLicensingInstHelper change -pk Product_Key -pv Version.0.0.F -lm USER

4. You will replace the red italicized text above with the product key, and version year for the product you want to change. For example, if you are changing AutoCAD 2020, the command would be: “AdskLicensingInstHelper change -pk 001L1 -pv 2020.0.0.F -lm USER”.

Once the software is launched, it will ask the user to login if they are not already. If the command fails, check your product key, and version year, along with spelling, spaces etc. in the command. The syntax of the command must be exact for it to work properly. More info on the tool can be found on the Autodesk Knowledge Network, Search for: Autodesk Licensing Installer Helper tool guide.

Each of these methods above require manual effort on each workstation, for each installed software. If you have a large environment, this is not the most efficient way. Fortunately, Autodesk has provided an admin tool, the Autodesk Licensing Support Tool to automate the license type change for all products.

The AdskLicensingSupportTool can be downloaded from the Autodesk Knowledge Network, , search for the article titled ‘Configure your named user license’. Download the support tool .zip file and extract it. Like the Installer Helper Tool discussed earlier, this is a command line tool that needs to be run in an elevated command prompt.  To run the tool on an individual workstation, copy the tool support directory you unzipped to an accessible network location, USB drive, etc. Then follow the instructions below to run the tool.

1. Start by opening an elevated command prompt. Click the windows icon in bottom left corner of your screen and type “cmd”, right click on the ‘Command Prompt’ app and select, “Run as administrator”.

2. Use the ‘CD’ command to change to the directory where you have the tool support directory. For example, if you have it on a USB drive F:\, the path could be F:\Tools\AutodeskLicensingSupportTool, making the change directory command “CD F:\Tools\AutodeskLicensingSupportTool”.

3. To set all installed Autodesk software to User type licensing, run the command “AdskLicensingSupportTool -r ALL:USER”. When complete, the command will list out all products it found, and if they successfully changed.

This will change all installed 2017 and up Autodesk products to User based licensing. The caveat is Design Suites cannot be converted using this tool. You will need to manually convert software installed from Design Suites with the file for each Suite installed product.

This utility can be run each workstation or rolled out globally with a software deployment tool like Microsoft System Center, PDQ Deploy, etc. Or even as simple as a logon script or Group Policy object If you want this migration to be seamless for users, with little to no effort, other than logging themselves in with their Autodesk ID, deploying this script is the way to go.

Cleanup Phase

Once you are confident everyone has migrated their software, or the 30 days is up and your network license file has expired you can uninstall the Autodesk Network License Manager from your server, it is no longer needed.

If you have installation deployments created that you will need to install from in the future, they will need to be updated to reflect the new licensing model. For deployments created with the classic installer, use the Create and Modify deployment shortcut in the deployment folder of modify it. For a deployment created through Autodesk Account, repeat the creation workflow, and specify the existing deployment image path as the new path. When you run the image creation tool, it will ask you if you want to update the existing image, answer yes to modify it.


Though transition to named user can sound like a daunting task, it can be accomplished quickly and easily with a bit of strategic planning. Whether you go a fully automated admin change rollout, or change one at a time, this article should help you get through it.

Bryson has worked in the IT industry since 2008. During this time, he has been involved in many aspects of IT including, Systems Administration, Networking, Telecom, Hardware, and IT consulting. He has supported large and small companies in a variety of industries including healthcare, software development, engineering, and architecture; plan, implement, upgrade, and maintain their IT inf rastructure. At ProSoft, Bryson admins all aspects of the internal IT inf rastructure, and oversees ProSoft’s custom workstation and server division. With his knowledge and experience in IT, he consults with companies worldwide on the planning, implementation, and training of Autodesk data management and collaboration software. As well as assisting customers with the licensing, installation, and deployment of Autodesk products.