Want to learn how-to run Windows®-specific CAD (computer-aided design) software on your Mac®? Don’t fret—you absolutely can! SolidWorks® is a widely used 3D design software that runs very well using Parallels Desktop for Mac.
Want to know how to fine-tune your virtual machine for performance-intensive tasks such as running CAD programs? Here are our top tips:
Use multiple cores for the VM: While Parallels Desktop now defaults to two processors for a new VM, if your VM was created before this setting was the default, your VM might only be using one core. Change this setting to two or perhaps four cores to improve the performance
Allocate more vRAM to your VM: Dedicating more memory to your VM will help. Think of RAM like a work bench: the more space you have, the more projects you can actively work on; with less space, only smaller projects will be available. Running CAD software within a VM isn’t a “light” performance task. However much RAM you allocate to your VM, please keep in mind that your host operating system will need a minimum of 4 GB to run macOS®. If the macOS is slowed, then everything running on the Mac will become slower, and this includes Parallels Desktop and any VMs, and any apps inside those VMs.
- Whether on the desktop or in the cloud, SOLIDWORKS Simulation solutions enable you to quickly and easily predict the real-world behavior of your products—before they are built. SOLIDWORKS Live.
- EDrawings Viewer is the only CAD viewer for Mac which delivers a premier 3D viewing experience for non CAD professionals. EDrawings Viewer enables anyone to quickly and easily view, print and review native eDrawings and SOLIDWORKS files in addition to AutoCAD DWG and DXF files. EDrawings is an email-enabled communication tool that dramatically eases the sharing of product design information.
SolidWorks for Mac by SolidWorks Corporation isn't available at this moment, but fortunately there are many alternative solutions on the market. Here you can find the most popular applications that can replace SolidWorks for Mac. All of them will provide you with the necessary tools to create amazing CAD (computer-aided design) projects.
Now, meet a talented mechanical engineering student from Auburn University, Matt Huffman. He utilizes a virtualized environment to run SolidWorks on his MacBook Pro®. Additionally, Matt is a member of Auburn University’s Mechanical Engineering Club, where passionate students fabricate and build an actual Formula 1 car from scratch to compete around the world.
“I chose Parallels because it is really easy to use and set up compared to the other guys. It is also the software that I had heard the most about. I use Microsoft® Office (Word, Excel®, PowerPoint®) often for school. I use Parallels often with SolidWorks when modeling and designing parts for the Auburn Formula team. I use Chrome™ as my primary browser. Google Drive™ and Dropbox are used alternatively for file sharing/group projects. Evernote® is a great one for notes.” – Matt
Matt’s current machine specifications:
MacBook Pro (Retina®, 15-inch, mid-2015)
Processor: 2.8 GHz Intel® Core™ i7
Memory: 16 GB (8 GB dedicated to his VM)
Graphics: Intel Iris® Pro 1536 MB
Utilizing Parallels Desktop with SolidWorks for the Mechanical Engineering Club obviously has the fun built into the project. However, here are some examples of Matt’s academic projects:
Post academic goals: Matt aspires to use his mechanical engineering degree to find future employment in the automotive world with innovative companies like Bugatti, Tesla, or Ferrari. Matt plans to loyally continue to use Parallels Desktop for both school work and play to achieve his goals. Both Parallels Desktop and SolidWorks consistently prove they are powerful tools to turn your innovative brainstorming ideas into reality in the design world.
Interested in getting started with SolidWorks on your Mac with Parallels Desktop? Try our 14-day free trial now.
Need Microsoft Windows operating system to get started with CAD software? Buy directly below:
Running SOLIDWORKS on a Mac People often ask if it is possible to run SOLIDWORKS on a Mac – the good news is you can. We know quite a few users running SOLIDWORKS successfully on a Mac. The bad news is that it isn’t supported by SOLIDWORKS … There are no versions of SOLIDWORKS that are written for Mac OS and OS X, however there are versions of eDrawings available for Mac OS. A change in Mac OS or an upgrade to SOLIDWORKS may suddenly give you major headache. We would always recommend running SOLIDWORKS on a Windows PC.
However if you have to run SOLIDWORKS on a Mac read on:- Running SOLIDWORKS on a Mac means you are making compromises on speed, functionality and stability. SOLIDWORKS is only supported when:-
- Running on Microsoft operating systems. With SOLIDWORKS 2019, that means running Windows 10 or Windows 7 operating systems. However, Windows 7 will only be supported until the end of the 2020 release, so we recommend going with Windows 10. It also means you have to buy a copy of the Windows operating system.
- Running with a supported graphics card (more of this later).
The operating system on a Mac is called “Mac OS” and there are two ways of running Windows 10 on a Mac:-
- Boot Camp
- Boot Camp
This is the preferred method – it effectively runs Windows on your computer instead of Mac OS. In effect, you end up with one computer with a choice of two operating systems.
When you boot up your Mac you have to choose to run either Mac OS or Windows.
Boot Camp Assistant creates a partition just for Windows, leaving your existing Mac OS volume intact.
It is free to install but you do have to buy a copy of your preferred windows operating system.
Note: It is important you only use “boot camp assistant” to create this windows partition. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1461
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Parallels software can be installed on your Mac OS. It allows you to run a “virtual” copy of a Windows operating system at the same time as running your Mac OS.
In our case, we would use Parallels to run a “Virtual PC”. The “Virtual PC” would then run Windows 10 on which SOLIDWORKS can ultimately run. You need to buy Parallels and a copy of Windows 10 for this solution.
Running Parallels on a Mac is really convenient as you can seamlessly switch between Windows and Mac OS when needed.
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Unfortunately, it really stretches the capabilities of most machines to run both Mac OS and Windows as well as a heavy-duty program like SOLIDWORKS at the same time. It also introduces an extra level of software to “go wrong”. Certainly running via Parallels is slower and more prone to crashing SOLIDWORKS than the Boot Camp solution.
You need to be running a supported graphics card to get the most out of SOLIDWORKS.
Only a few cards are supported by SOLIDWORKS.
NVIDIA sell a range of supported graphics cards called “Quadro” (the exception is the Quadro NVS, which is unsupported). Most NVIDIA cards are from their GeForce range, which are not supported.
ATI sell as range of graphics cards called “FireGL”/“FirePRO” which are supported. Most ATI cards are from their Radeon range, which are not supported.
Not many Macs come with supported graphics card. No MacBook or MacBook Pros have supported cards.
If you run via Parallels, you are running a “virtual” graphics card driver. There is currently no way to install the correct NVIDIA Quadro or ATI Fire drivers required by SOLIDWORKS via Parallels even if you have a supported card. You have to use the generic Parallels virtual driver. The virtual driver is much slower than using the correct driver running on a normal Windows PC or laptop.
Certain workarounds do exist to allow.
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Without a supported card, you won’t get some feature such as the looking glass, RealView etc. to work.
Users have also reported items temporarily disappearing after you rotate/zoom/Pan e.g. dimension text.
Finally, without a supported card SOLIDWORKS is less stable and more prone to crashing.
If you are plagued by stability/display issues its worth running SOLIDWORKS with the option “Software OpenGL” turned on.
Start SOLIDWORKS without any document loaded and select “Tools, Options, System Options, Performance, use Software OpenGL”.
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The option above calculates the graphics using your processor and a standard library, rather than the graphics card and graphics driver. This is slower but it can provide improve stability and a more reliable display.
Running Solidworks On A Mac
If you have any more questions or would like us to spec you up a machine to run SOLIDWORKS on please refer to this guide, or contact us via one of our web forms here.