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...what is the ChemDraw Plugin and how can I use it

Simply put, the ChemDraw Plugin automatically turns your web browser into ChemDraw whenever a page containing an embedded ChemDraw document is encountered. The ChemDraw application you are familar with launching from your desktop is never launched in this scenario; it is the separate and autonomous ChemDraw Plugin doing the work behind the scenes.

Below is an example of an empty ChemDraw Plugin window.

To use the ChemDraw commands that you normally see in the Menu bar of the familiar ChemDraw application:

  • Point within the window above and right-click (Windows users) or point within the window above, press and hold the Ctrl key and hold down the mouse button (Macintosh users).
  • Drag the mouse button to the the submenu of interest and then select from the available commands in the submenu. The submenu commands in the Plugin and are identical to the menu commands of the ChemDraw application.

To use the tools in the Tools palette:

  • Simply click a tool to activate it, then use it as you normally would within the ChemDraw application.

The tools and commands available in the ChemDraw Plugin will depend on whether you are using the Pro version (all features of ChemDraw); the Std version (fewer features than Pro) or the Net version (fewer features than Std). If you are not familiar with how the commands and tools work, you can refer to the ChemDraw Manual.


As noted, this first example uses an empty ChemDraw document (in this case named "text.cdx") as the data source for the Plugin. This is the common mode for uses of the Plugin where a user will input a structure for some type of processing. Examples using this type of data source include the ChemBioFinder Web Server, and the SMILES test. As an end user you may not be interested in these specifics, however, if you want to create web pages using the Plugin it is vital knowledge.


You could equally well come across a web page where you see a molecule already drawn within the Plugin window. In this case the author of the Web Pages used a data source for the Plugin that was a document saved in ChemDraw file format (*.cdx). The example below is such a case. Since the Tools palette is available, you are free to alter the contents of the document, however, once you leave the current web page, the contents will revert to those the author originally embedded.

This type of Plugin is ideal for publishing chemical data where users are invited to have interactive access to the molecule. In other words, users can have some fun.


Just as likely, you might come across a web page where you don't see the Tools palette and you are unable to access the menus. In this case the web author has made the document view only. Below is our friend benzene without the bells and whistles.

This type of Plugin is ideal for publishing on-line journal articles where an author doesn't want the user to interact with the structure, but, would like the the user to be able to print the article with the high quality output the ChemDraw *.cdx file format affords (relative to *.gif and *.jpg or *.png).