ChemDraw 17.1 Update released. Micro-review of Mac version round-trip editing

Hi folks,

Just got my hands on the 17.1 Release of ChemOffice Professional (Mac) and ran through my normal initial sequence of tests, i.e. Word round-trip editing. There are a bunch of changes listed in the version history as part of the online manual which I won’t cover here yet, but there are changes to the File, Edit Menus, Hotkeys, HELM support, the introduction of ChemDraw Add-ins. – Martin 5th April, 2018.

Update 5th April, 2018. Doesn’t contain a fix for roud-trip editing with Pages, Keynote.

Round-trip editing with Word, Powerpoint 2011. This works as previously, no surprises here:

Round Trip Editing, ChemDraw 17.1, Word 2011


Round-trip editing with Word 2016. Here something odd happened.

Opening the Word 2011 file in Word 2016, objects could be copied and pasted back into ChemDraw 17.1, but when those objects were then edited, and copy-pasted back into Word 2016, they were pasted as a SMILES string:

This also occurs when there is no round-trip involved. Brand-new objects drawn in ChemDraw 17.1 17.2 and pasted into a new Word 2016 document paste as SMILES. However, using Word’s Paste Special as PDF function, it inserts the graphic correctly:

Round trip editing, ChemDraw17.1, Word 2016


The good news is that as long as you do the Paste Special in Word 2016, you can go back and forth several times successfully. Clearly the two apps are using different sections of the Clipboard as supplied by ChemDraw. Summary: in this task, ChemDraw 17.1 is performing more poorly than ChemDraw 17.0.


ChemDraw 17.1 with PowerPoint 2016

PowerPoint 2016 had no such SMILES issues, using structures from either old 2011 documents, or all brand new items from ChemDraw 17.1, copy-paste worked as you’d expect. (Using Paste or Paste Special – PDF works identically over multiple back-and-forths).

Round trip editing, ChemDraw17.1, PowerPoint 2016

Multiple sequential edits in ChemDraw 17.1 and Powerpoint 2016

The observant reader will have noticed the alert in the Word windows captured above suggesting that I should install a Word 2016 update. To date I have avoided this, as a previous update of Word 2011 has been shown to break round-trip editing, and I don’t want to mess with my production machine. In addition, There are often discrepancies in version number within Office depending on whether the product was purchased as a standalone license, a volume license, or as part of an Office 365 subscription. My copy is an Office 365 subscription and contains the subversions below. So it is possible that a later upgrade may work better.

Test platform: ChemDraw Professional 17 (, iMac 2011 8GB RAM, MacOS 10.12.6 Sierra; Microsoft Office 2011 (Word 14.7.7, PowerPoint 14.7.7), 2016 (Word 15.37. PowerPoint 15.38)

About martin

almost on holidays
This entry was posted in ChemDraw, mac. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to ChemDraw 17.1 Update released. Micro-review of Mac version round-trip editing

  1. Henry Rzepa says:

    Just to confirm that round trip editing between Windows and Mac is as broken as ever?

    • martin says:

      Quick Answer: I haven’t tried
      Long Answer: The Windows partition on my laptop went belly up so I can’t test the new Windows version for cross-platform compatibility. But yes, I assume it is as broken as ever. When writing anything with coauthors on Windows, which hasn’t been for a goodly long while, I always send them the .cdx files as well as the Word file. But honestly, I usually found that Endnote broke more things there than ChemDraw.

      But I welcome input from anyone on Windows on this, I just don’t know of anyone with the update yet. Takes a while to process through the Uni site subscription offie, then through IT onto academic users machines. I only tested it on my home machine because I have a personal 1 year subscription.


  2. Henry Rzepa says:

    Yes, round tripping is a long story. I wrote from a different perspective in 2013 (Chemistry data round-tripping. Has there been ANY progress?, ) updating an earlier post in 2010 (Data-round-tripping: moving chemical data around, ).

    In case folks don’t know about it, another project, and was all about ensuring integrity in round-tripping using XML. Unfortunately, it was never migrated to macOS, and I think remains Windows only to this day.

    • martin says:

      Yes I seem to have been banging on about it for ages too. My current thoughts, not quite fully formed are that CPPro should come with an internal autosave system whereby every structure you ever draw gets logged into a master DB and date stamped. There should also be a check flag to disable/enable this functionality such that every time a user tries to close a ChemDraw window without saving, a datestamped .cdx file gets saved to the user’s custom ChemDraw files folder, much the same way as MacOS timeanddate stamps screenshots. Or the way that Schrödinger Suite autosaves Session files to a default directory.

      Pity about Chem4Word, it would have been nice to have a Mac version.

  3. cjs007 says:

    Typo? I presume this should be 17.1
    “Brand-new objects drawn in ChemDraw 17.2 and pasted into a new Word 2016 document paste as SMILES.”

  4. martin says:

    Just published an email from Pierre Morieux of the ChemDraw team with a few details of what broke in the way Office pastes clipboard contents, and a possible fix:

  5. Maskeri says:

    I have a somewhat hacky fix for the Keynote/ChemDraw round-trip editing problem on OSX. Keynote strips the CDXML out of PDFs copied from ChemDraw, but retains them in some helper metadata from which it can be retrieved.
    I’ve implemented this as a productivity tool at

    • Maskeri says:

      Also have a fix for Windows -> Mac PowerPoint round-trip editing (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s