2 Easy Ways To Run SolidWorks On Mac

There’s plenty of excellent CAD software avialable for Mac nowadays but unfortunately SolidWorks for Mac does not exist. However the good news is there are ways to install the PC version of SolidWorks 2016, 2017 & 2018 on macOS.

If you use a virtual machine such as Parallels, you can switch between macOS and Solidworks at anytime seamlessly. Alternatively, you can install SolidWorks using Boot Camp if you don’t need access to macOS while you’re using SolidWorks.

Here we’ll show you both ways and give you a few tips and hints about how to improve the performance of SolidWorks on Mac.

Follow the instructions below to install SolidWorks on a Mac.

1. SolidWorks Installation Checklist

Before you start, you’ll need to make sure you have the following.

  1. A copy of SolidWorks 2016, 2017 or 2018.
  2. You’ll also need a copy of Windows 7, 8 or 10 (see table below to see which one you need) but we strongly recommend Windows 10. All versions of Solidworks 2016, 2017 and 2018 work with all versions of Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 and you can check out the full system requirements below. We recommend installing Windows 10 on your Mac, especially if you’re going to use Parallels, as it automatically installs Windows 10 for you and makes it very easy. Plus Windows 10 is now effectively free to use as Microsoft don’t require you to activate it anymore unless you want to customize Windows.
    run solidworks on mac - windows compatiblity table
  3. If you don’t choose the Boot Camp method, you will need a copy of a virtual environment software such as Parallels which makes it really easy to install Windows on a Mac and run it at the same time as macOS

You’ve then got two choices as to how to install SolidWorks on your Mac – either by using Boot Camp or by using using a virtual machine. To understand the difference between both, check out our article on the best way to run Windows on Mac.

In a nutshell, Boot Camp is free in macOS but only allows you to run either Windows or OS X at one time. Our recommended virtual machine Parallels isn’t free but it allows you to run macOS and Windows at the same time which is far more convenient as you can switch between your Mac and Windows in one click:

solidworks for mac - parallels

Using Parallels means you don’t have to restart your Mac when you want to use SolidWorks – you can just switch to macOS as you do when you want to use any other application whereas with Boot Camp you have to shutdown your Mac and restart it in Windows. Although Boot Camp allows your Mac to devote all of its resources to running SolidWorks (thus in theory giving you smoother performance) both Macs and Parallels have become more powerful in processing speed and RAM size meaning SolidWorks now works almost as well using Parallels as it does using Boot Camp.

2. How To Install SolidWorks on Mac Using Parallels

Here’s how to run SolidWorks on Mac using a virtual machine.

  1. The first thing you need to do is follow these instructions to install Windows 10 on Mac for free. Microsoft no longer requires uses to activate Windows 10 with a product key in order to use so the great thing is Windows doesn’t cost a cent.
  2. Purchase SolidWorks and install it in Windows. Once installed, start SolidWorks so that it makes a few entries in your Windows Registry and then close it.
  3. There are then a few tweaks you need to make sure that SolidWorks works properly on your Mac. First make sure you are running Windows and then go to the menu at the top of the screen and select Actions > Configure. Make sure that Resource Usage is set to No Limit.solidworks mac - windows settings In earlier versions of Parallels running Windows 7, the process is go to Parallels > Virtual Machine > Configure > Options > Optimization and make sure your settings are the same as below:solidworks for mac parallels

Then select Graphics and make sure that 3D Acceleration is set to DirectX10 and Vertical Synchronization is selected in Advanced Settings.solidworks on mac - windows 10 directx settingsIn earlier versions of Parallels running Windows 7, go to Parallels > Virtual Machine > Configure > Hardware > Video and make sure your settings are the same as this on Windows 7:solidworks on mac parallels

If you’re using the latest version of Parallels with Windows 10 instead, you’ll find that you can now force Parallels to use multiple core processors which will dramatically improve the performance of SolidWorks on your Mac. Make sure you select more than one processor. Depending on how much RAM you’ve got, we recommend allocating at least 4GB of RAM or more to Parallels to ensure Solidworks runs quickly. Note that macOS requires at least 4GB of RAM to run smoothly so you should make sure that at least 4GB is free otherwise you’ll find your Mac runs slow. Make sure your settings look something like this:

solidworks for mac - parallels settings

Finally, you need to make these changes in the Windows Registry in order to make OpenGL and RealView work in macOS running SolidWorks on Parallels. You should be good to go after that.

3. How To Install SolidWorks on Mac Using Boot Camp

The installation of SolidWorks using Boot Camp follows the same principle as with Parallels with the main difference being that it installs Windows in a partition on your hard drive.

  1. First you need to install Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp.
  2. You then need to purchase a copy of SolidWorks 2015 or SolidWorks 2016. If you’re using an iMac with a SuperDrive then this can be an installation DVD. However, if you’re using a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro you’ll need a digital download.
  3. To install SolidWorks is then exactly the same as if you were installing it on a PC.

solidworks for mac - solidworks

You can also see SolidWorks working very smoothly on a Mac in Windows 8 using Boot Camp here:

For more detailed stats on how fast SolidWorks works on a Mac, check these benchmark figures. If you do a search for “Mac”, you’ll see the Macs hold-up pretty well against PCs.

4. How To Use RealView & OpenGL In SolidWorks On Mac

You will find that RealView and OpenGL won’t work by default on Mac because the graphics cards in Mac are not supported by SolidWorks for these features. However, you can force SolidWorks to use these features although you’ll find that the results aren’t always perfect. To enable RealView and OpenGL on Mac using NVIDIA graphics cards, follow these instructions (obviously change the value of “SolidWorks 2015” or “SoliwWorks 2016” to the appropriate version of SolidWorks you are using).

  1. Open the Registry Editor in Windows. To do this, depends on the version of Windows you are using but you can find instructions here.
  2. In the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/SolidWorks/SolidWorks 2015/Performance/Graphics/Hardware/Current
  3. Double click on the “Renderer” key and, copy the value string and click “OK”.
  4. In the Registry Editor, then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/SolidWorks/SolidWorks 2015/Performance/Graphics/Hardware/Gl2Shaders/Other. Right click on the “Other” folder and select “New Key”. Then simply paste in the value you copied previously as the name of the folder.solidworks for mac 2016 windows registry
  5. Select the new folder and in the panel on the right, right-click and select “New” and then DWORD (32bit).
  6. Change the Name the Key to Workarounds.
  7. Double Click on it and enter the hex value 40008. This is the correct setting for the nVidia graphics card in your Mac.
  8. In the Registry Editor, go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/SolidWorks/SolidWorks 2015/Performance/Graphics/Hardware and then search for the 4 sub-folders called Parallels. In the Parallels and NVIDIA folders, change the Workarounds value to 4000480 and for the Parallels and ATI folders change to modify in 10. Close the Registry Editor.
  9. Those that are using older Macs with Intel graphics cards, can try these values instead: For Realview Graphics: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2016\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Gl2Shaders\Other\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine. Add value Workarounds: 0x04000480. For Open CL: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2016\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Intel\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine. Add value Workarounds: 0x09. If this doesn’t work on your Intel Mac, try adding these two keys instead:..\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Gl2Shaders\Other\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine
    DWORD Workaround value 4000480...\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Intel\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine
    DWORD Workaround value 4000480.
  10. Finally, open SolidWorks and make sure that OpenGL is activated by going to Tools, Options, System Options, Performance and select the checkbox Use Software OpenGL:solidworks for mac - opengl

This enables SolidWorks to adapt to your Mac graphics card better and will minimize some of the graphics cards problems described earlier. The result is a slightly slower SolidWorks but it will improve stability and give you a more reliable display.

Note: If you install a service pack later on in Windows, you will have to go through the entire Registry Edit process again.

Another tip to make SolidWorks perform better on your Mac is to run Windows in Classic Mode – this will free up resources that are dedicated to running more advanced Windows features to SolidWorks. To do thus, go to Control Panel in Windows and select Appearance and Personalization. Click Personalization and then Theme. Under Theme select Windows Classic:

solidworks for mac - windows classic

This will allow your Mac to devote more resources to running SolidWorks rather than fancy animations and effects in Windows.

5. Fixing Graphics Cards Issues

It’s important to be aware that you will experience some performance related issues when running SolidWorks on Mac this way. This is because Apple does not build Macs with NVIDIA Quadro and ATI FirePro graphics cards for which SolidWorks is designed for. This means that some features such as Looking Glass and RealView are not officially supported on Mac. However, there are a few hacks you can use to make RealView and OpenGL work on Mac and we show you how in the installation instructions below. Nevertheless, you may still experience other little glitches such as items temporarily disappearing when you rotate, zoom and pan such as with dimension text and 3D details missing such as the example below:

solidworks on mac graphics issues

If you do experience any performance or installation issues with SolidWorks on Mac, don’t expect any support from either Dassault Systems or resellers as it is not officially supported on Mac and the installation is performed at your own risk.

6. When Will  SolidWorks Be Available For Mac?

For the moment, these are the best way to run SolidWorks on macOS. The makers of SolidWorks Dassault Systems has outlined its reasons for not making Solidworks for Mac and it basically comes down to a matter of resources and technical limitations. Dassault Systems does produce software such as eDrawings and DraftSight for Mac and if you just need a SolidWorks viewer for Mac so you can open diagrams, the company has made eDrawings for Mac which allows you to view (but not edit) DWG and DXF files on Mac. However, the relatively small Mac user base and the complexities of CAD Software such as Solidworks means that the company simply can’t justify the investment required to produce a full Mac version of Solidworks.

It was revealed a few years ago that the developer Dassault Systems will eventually release a new version of SolidWorks – SolidWorks Xdesign – which will work on Mac. At the moment however, you can only sign-up for a SolidWorks Xdesign beta invite and there is still no full launch date set as yet.

solidworks for mac - solidworks xdesign

There is the also interesting OnShape project headed by a former SolidWorks CEO and a group of ex-employees that’s aiming to create a online alternative to SolidWorks. At the moment, the functionality isn’t quite on a par with Solidworks but OnShape is developing rapidly and it’s quite possible that in a few years, OnCloud will basically be SolidWorks online and be accessible on any platform including Mac. Early reviews have called OnShape “Google Docs for CAD” due to it’s ease of use for a CAD software and cloud based deployment that works on any platform.

solidworks for mac - onshape for mac

Finally, SolidWorks 2018 was launched in September 2017 but there are no plans for a Mac version. You can read more about what’s new in SolidWorks 2018 here.

solidworks 2018 mac

We hope this guide has helped but if you have any questions about running or installing SolidWorks on Mac, let us know in the comments below.

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34 Responses

  1. MacHow2
    Miguel Palma

    I’m having a problem installing solidworks 2013 or later in parallels, a pop up apears saying “installation manager could not be found” please help me.

    • MacHow2

      It sounds like you may be trying to open an ISO file of Solidworks 2013? If so, you need to mount the ISO file in a virtual drive instead.

  2. MacHow2

    Nice article. I’m currently using SW 2016 on an iMac (via Parallels). Any idea of how to get the Command Key/Apps Screen issue?
    Specifically – whenever you try to rotate a part in SW (middle mouse button and Command key) the Windows App screen pops up. That means hitting ESC each time you finish rotating a part.

    Any ideas?
    BTW – I’m running Windows 8.1.

    • MacHow2
      Luciano Ferroni

      Hello… I have a 2014 Mac Mini with an Intel(R) Iris(TM) Graphics 5100 graphics card.
      What modifications should I make in the registry editor?
      Thank you!

      • MacHow2

        Hi, The instructions in the article are for an Intel Mac. However, if you’ve followed them closely and read the comments here and are still stuck, you might find this article helpful. Let us know if you find a solution.

      • MacHow2
        Luciano Ferroni

        Hi… I tried with the Workarounds value 4000480 for both directories and it worked quite well (Real View included), except for the fact that when, for example, I draw something in Sketch Mode, extrude it and then go back to Sketch Mode to edit it, I don’t see the ghosted silhouette of the extrusión I did while editing the sketch. I only see the sketch itself. This is no the way it works on SolidWorks running on a PC as far as I’ve seen it. You always see the solid being modified as you edit the sketch.

        I tried to use the Workarounds value 0x09 but I don’t really know which value to put in the ‘Edit DWORD’ pop-up window. If I put 9, the outcoming number is 0x00000009. Which is the correct number I should type in order to get 0x09 as a result?

        Thank you!

      • MacHow2

        There are some disadvantages to running Solidworks on Mac this way and one of them is that it doesn’t work and look exactly the same as on Windows when it comes to subtle features like the ghosted silhouette of extrusions. You may be able to find a solution on the forum we referred you to earlier but if not, this is one of the minor glitches you have to live with.

    • MacHow2

      Interesting video comparison between Solid Edge v Solidworks in Parallels. Seems to work pretty well although we’d still recommend using Boot Camp instead of Parallels to install Solidworks on Mac.

  3. MacHow2
    Matthew Schmitz

    Hi, really helpful article. I followed your instructions (I’m running solidworks 2016 on parallels) but I have an Intel HD Graphics 4000 (mbp late 2012) instead of a nVidia. Any idea what the correct “workaround” hex value is for me? Following your instructions, I was able to get the RealView icon to show up, but when you click on it it doesn’t do anything – just adds a little shadow around the part.

    • MacHow2

      Hi Matthew, Glad it helped. For Intel graphics cards, try this to make RealView work on SolidWorks in Parallels on Mac:

      Create two new keys:

      Realview Graphics:
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2016\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Gl2Shaders\Other\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine
      Add value Workarounds: 0x04000480

      Open CL:
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2016\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Intel\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine
      Add value Workarounds: 0x09

      If this doesn’t work, try adding these two keys instead:

      ..\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Gl2Shaders\Other\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine.
      DWORD Workaround value 4000480.

      ..\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Intel\Parallels using Intel HD Graphics 4000 OpenGL Engine.
      DWORD Workaround value 4000480.

      Hope it helps!

      • MacHow2
        Matthew Schmitz

        Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, neither of these combinations worked for realview. Both of them resulted successfully in the “use software open GL” being unchecked, but neither of them worked for RealView exactly. They both caused the realview icon to show up under the television screen drop-down, but when clicked, realview didn’t work. Under the first set of keys, (4000480 and 9), nothing happened when I enabled realview. Under the second set (4000480 and 4000480), The part gets a small shadow, but no real improved rendering.

        Any other ideas? I’ve tried combinations of keys 40000, 9, 4000480 and 9000000 with no luck.
        Thanks so much for your help.

      • MacHow2

        No problem. The only thing we can suggest is try searching for other RegEdit Graphics\Hardware keys and make sure that they match the others and that the hexadecimal value is the same. 4000480 usually works.

  4. MacHow2
    Matthew Schmitz

    Bummer. I’ve tried lots of other keys with no luck. Has anyone with the intel graphics HD 4000 card had success with getting real-view to work?

  5. MacHow2

    I have a 13″ mid 2010 mbp with 2.4 GHz intel core 2 duo, 16 GB RAM, and NVIDIA GeForce 320M 250 MB video card… I want to run solidworks (2017 preferably) on bootcamp. which would be the best windows os for me? Windows 7, 8 or 10?

  6. MacHow2

    I have a 2017 13″ MBP (with Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650) running Solidworks 2017 in Bootcamp. Do I have to adjust the registry? If so, how do I do it? Thank you so much.

    • MacHow2

      Yes to make RealView and OpenGL work you’ll still need to edit the registry. You can find instructions how to open the registry in Windows 10 here.

  7. MacHow2

    I have a new 2017 MacBook Pro with 8GB DDR3 RAM and 2.3 GHz i5 DC. I installed the 64 bit Windows 10 software using bootcamp, and am having several issues using Solidworks 2017-2018. It is usually laggy, and sometimes quits altogether unexpectedly. I am worried about slowing it down even further with the graphics card tweak you suggested; do you have any advice at making Solidworks as functional as on a PC? Thanks

  8. MacHow2

    First, thank you for bearing with me. So, a couple questions: 1) how do I figure out the hex values for my graphics cards? 2) Do I have to change the values in the Parallels folders even if I am using Bootcamp? If so, do I only change the values in the Parallels Inc. & Intel Inc. folders?

    • MacHow2

      You definitely don’t have to worry about Parallels folders if you’re using BootCamp. You need to check your Mac specs by going to the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and selecting “About This Mac..” to see which graphics card you’re using to know which hex values to use.

  9. MacHow2
    Isabelle Bryenton

    Great Article, I just have a couple of follow up questions.

    1) Do I follow the same steps as above even if I am not using an NVIDIA graphics card and am running solidworks 2017 on windows 10?
    2) Once I properly configure Solidworks will it get rid of the lag

  10. MacHow2
    Isabelle Bryenton

    I am also having the same issues using the same machine, and I am running solidworks 2017 on Windows 10

  11. MacHow2
    Pedro Rafael Vidal Arias

    Hello, I am using Solidworks 2017 on my MacBook Pro 2017 with Intel Iris Plus 650 Graphics via Bootcamp, I solve the OpenGL, after modify the registry works very fluid, but I can not solve the realview, I’m try to put the hex number 30008, 30408, 31408, 40000 on the registry and doesn’t works the realview. Could you help me please?

  12. MacHow2
    Kevin Doudie

    Hey Pedro, I am currently trying to get solidworks 2017 to run smoothly on my MBP 2017 with intel HD graphics 630 1536MB & Radeon Pro 560 4GB.

    How did you manage to get it running smoothly on yours?


  13. MacHow2
    Jacopo Bellelli

    Nice guide!! but I have a 2017 MacBook Pro with touch bar 8gb RAM i5 3.1 ghz and solidworks don’t run well…do you know how to help me? I tried to start solidworks on parallels…the program start very well but after a while it crash when I tried to extrude or cut extrude a draw….I don’t know what to do…maybe I have to change some different setting on the regedit

    • MacHow2

      Unfortunately using Solidworks in Parallels can be unstable and sometimes due to the graphical demands of the application. Certain actions such as extruding can cause the situation you describe and the best thing to try is installing Windows using Boot Camp instead as described in the article.

  14. MacHow2

    Considering SW for a MBP late 2013 15″ i7 2.3ghz 16mb graphics intel iris pro cpu builtin and Nvidia geforce gt 750m pcie with automatic graphics switch supported for both graphics

    Should I be considering another software other than SW re noted issues.


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