You’ve seen their ads, you’ve browsed their stores, and chances are you probably already own one of their products. Apple is, without question, one of the most well-known brands in the world. All things considered, it makes perfect sense that we’re often asked if SolidWorks software runs on the Apple OS X operating system found on Macbooks and Mac Pros.
The answer to this is yes and no. We do develop several applications that are available for OS X and iOS. This includes eDrawings Viewer for OS X, as well as eDrawings and eDrawings Professional for iOS. DraftSight is also available for OS X as a beta version.
But what about SolidWorks 3D CAD? When SolidWorks was developed in the early 1990s, the founding team’s mission was to put the power of 3D CAD on every engineer’s desktop. That meant leveraging consumer-grade hardware—something that had not seen mainstream success at that time. Some of you may remember that before SolidWorks hit the scene, you usually needed an expensive UNIX workstation to run 3D design tools. The SolidWorks founders made a decision to develop solely for the Windows platform, which was the dominant consumer operating system at the time, and remains so today.
We’re all aware of how Steve Jobs was able to turn Apple around in the early 2000s, but the vast majority of product engineering teams continue to standardize on the Windows platform. While we do get occasional requests for a native Mac OS version of SolidWorks, the majority of our customers have asked that we continue to focus our development resources on improving the existing Windows version, rather than split development efforts between two separate versions. And while we may develop new products in the future that include native tools for OS X, the SolidWorks products we develop and sell today will always be Windows-only.
So will SolidWorks CAD actually run on OS X? Technically it will, but there are some major considerations. The process for running SolidWorks on OS X isn’t as simple as installing and activating the software. Since SolidWorks is not developed for OS X, you’ll first need to install Windows on your OS X device using an application such as Bootcamp or Parallels. Once you do get SolidWorks running, you may notice that the graphics performance is not on par with Windows workstations, especially if you’re using a Macbook. This is because Apple does not offer laptops with workstation-grade video cards, such as the NVIDIA Quadro and ATI FirePro lines. These cards have drivers that support a technology called OpenGL, which SolidWorks uses extensively. This means some display options like RealView aren’t supported when used with Apple laptops (Mac Pro desktops are available with these cards).
Another consideration—especially for commercial users—is that SolidWorks and our resellers do not officially provide support for OS X installations, which means you may have to sort out any potential hardware or software issues on your own should you encounter them. If you’re currently using SolidWorks and considering a move to Apple hardware, or if you’re currently an Apple user and are considering SolidWorks, we suggest contacting your local SolidWorks reseller to discuss the pros and cons of using SolidWorks on OS X before making any final decisions. You can learn more about hardware and system requirements on SolidWorks.com.
If you would like to learn more about SolidWorks software or discuss your options, just visit our website or complete the form below.