Run CAD Programs for Windows on Mac


Architects, engineers, students, and other design-based users run computer-aided design (CAD) programs specific to Microsoft Windows—like Autodesk Inventor, ArcGIS, and SOLIDWORKS—on their Mac without rebooting with Parallels Desktop® for Mac. CAD software enables users to visualize design, create photorealistic drawings, and even future-proof models for environmental factors.

Most CAD programs have system requirements that involve a Microsoft Windows operating system to run. However, rising sales and integration of macOS® in the workforce cause users to look for alternative solutions.

Potential Solutions:

  • Purchase a secondary computer. (Expensive!)
  • Partition an existing hard drive in order to use Boot Camp®. (You must delete all your data to partition your existing hard drive, and restart your computer every time you want to switch between Mac or Windows. The downside is data loss and time spent rebooting.) 
  • Utilize macOS virtualization software such as Parallels Desktop. (You must buy Parallels Desktop and a Windows operating system. To save here, users can also port existing Windows OSes from an older PC to avoid this additional cost.)

For over 10 years, millions of users have used CAD programs on Mac with Parallels Desktop to design 2D and 3D drawings. Rich integration between macOS and Windows allows users to switch between OSes seamlessly. This is how you can save time as opposed to the aforementioned Boot Camp alternative. With Parallels Desktop, you don’t have to restart your computer when you work, and you can even use macOS features in your Windows virtual machine, such as copy and paste, Siri®, the Mac Touch Bar™, and so much more!

Here are some examples of popular CAD programs running through Parallels Desktop for Mac:

Solidworks CAD On Mac

(SOLIDWORKS on Mac with Parallels Desktop)

ArcGIS CAD on Mac

(ArcGIS on Mac with Parallels Desktop)

DIALux CAD on Mac

(DIALux evo 7 on Mac with Parallels Desktop)

Looking for a CAD program that’s not listed above? Other popular CAD programs such as DIALux evo, 3ds Max, Maya, Rhino, Revit, and DesignBuilder can be ran through Parallels Desktop.

Note: CAD programs are intensive, resource-heavy programs. Performance may vary depending on the technical specifications of your Mac. We suggest closing any other applications in the background of macOS while Parallels Desktop is running a power-hungry program to avoid any potential performance issues.

What’s next with the CAD market? New releases have involved cloud-based programs. This would eliminate the need for a specific device and limit the restrictions put on users. While we fully support users having the right tools to complete their jobs, we also want to be clear that Parallels Desktop will continue to focus developing software for the present, enabling users that are dependent on older versions of CAD programs that require run Microsoft Windows on Mac.

If you’re looking to run CAD programs for Windows on Mac without rebooting, we encourage you to download a FREE 14-day trial of Parallels Desktop for Mac and get started today.

Need to buy a Microsoft Windows operating system?

Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro

Get started today!


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