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How to Upgrade your Solidworks installation 2011 - 2012

This is a guide for upgrading SolidWorks from one version to another - for example from SolidWorks 2011 to SolidWorks 2012. We highly recommend that you uninstall the old version completely, and then install the new version. This ensures you have a clean start with the new version.

To jump directly to the instructions, click here.
If you would like to run two major versions of SolidWorks (e.g. 2011 and 2012) alongside each other, click here.
It is not necessary to uninstall and reinstall between Service Packs, only major releases (i.e. each year). To learn how to update your SolidWorks version (e.g. go from SolidWorks 2012 SP1 to SP2) click here.
This is not intended to be a step-by-step installation guide and assumes some familiarity with basic computer maintenance, etc. If at any stage you are unsure of how to proceed, please contact your Solidtec Application Engineer.
The steps below are for standalone SolidWorks licenses. To check if you have a standalone license, from SolidWorks go to the Help menu. If you have the option to "Transfer license", you have a standalone license. If you have a network (SNL) license, most steps will be the same. If unsure, contact your Solidtec Application Engineer.


  1. Before you begin
  2. Uninstall the old version
  3. Install the new version
  4. After installation
    1. Setup
    2. Toolbox installations
  5. Further information

    Before you begin

  1. Back up any local data. We recommend keeping a copy of your data in the old format should you need it. More information on backups can be found here.
  2. Make a note of any SolidWorks customisations, such as keyboard shortcuts. From SolidWorks >> (start a new Part if none are open) >> Tools >> Customize >> Keyboard tab >> check "Show only commands with shortcuts assigned" >> Copy List. This will copy the settings to the Windows Clipboard and you can then paste them into Excel or Notepad, etc. Although this requires you to re-input your keyboard shortcuts after reinstalling SolidWorks, there is no risk of "contaminating" the Registry settings. Do not use Copy Settings Wizard, as it copies the entire SolidWorks registry and can cause problems with the new version.
  3. Copy the SolidWorks Serial Number. From SolidWorks >> Help >> About SolidWorks. Make a note of the Serial Number (copy to Notepad or write it down on paper, etc.) - you may need to re-enter it during installation later on.
  4. Transfer the SolidWorks License off the machine. This ensures your license is available to use on another computer if anything happens during the uninstall/reinstall process. From SolidWorks >> Help >> Transfer License. If you are having trouble connecting to the SolidWorks License Server, make sure that internet traffic is allowed to/from
  5. Make sure you are logged in to Windows as an administrator. If you are unsure, see
  6. Uninstall the old version

  7. Uninstall SolidWorks. Start Menu >> Control Panel >> Programs and Features (Add/remove programs in WinXP) >> SolidWorks >> Uninstall. The SolidWorks 2011 Installation Manager will start.
    1. If you are uninstalling SolidWorks 2011, right-click on the title-bar (up the top, where it says "SolidWorks 2011 Installation Manager") >> Total Uninstall >> proceed through the IM process (keep clicking Next).
    2. If you are uninstalling SolidWorks 2010 or earlier, please read the end of this post regarding how to clean your registry. It is important to do this to ensure the smooth opertation of the new version.
  8. Once uninstalled, reboot the computer.
  9. Install the new version

  10. THIS IS A CRITICAL STEP! Disable any Anti-virus programs that are running as these can interfere with the installation process. Some Anti-virus programs are very difficult to disable – if in doubt Google for instructions “disable < Anti-virus Program Name>”.

    If required, you can generally disable anti-virus programs manually:
    1. Start >> Run >> Control Panel >> Administrative Tools >> Services.
    2. Find all relevant anti-virus services >> RMB >> Stop
    3. Once installation is complete >> RMB >> Start
  11. Insert the SolidWorks Media Disc (make sure it is the correct bit version - 32 and 64-bit versions are supplied in the box). If the Installation Manager does not start automatically, browse to the media location in Windows Explorer and RMB on Setup.exe >> Run as administrator to begin installation.
  12. Run through the Installation Manager. If the Installation Manager detects the previous install, it may ask you to upgrade - this is fine, proceed as normal.

    1. Installation type is Individual.
    2. Enter the Serial Number if prompted (enter extra Serial Numbers if installing Simulation Premium or Flow Simulation).
    3. If you have SolidWorks Professional or Premium, click here to read about installing/upgrading the Toolbox.
  13. After installation


  14. If you transferred the license off the computer previously, or there was no license on the machine, when starting up SolidWorks you will be asked to activate the product. Run through the process, using correct contact details (these will be associated with the Serial Number). If you are unable to activate, use the 30-day Trial Activation. This will give you access to SolidWorks Premium for 30 days regardless of what version of SolidWorks you are entitled to. If this happens please notify your Solidtec Application Engineer
  15. Make sure that the File Locations are set up correctly if using a central file server. From within SolidWorks >> Options >> System Options tab >> File Locations. The most common locations to change are: Document Templates, Sheet Formats, Weldment Profiles and Custom Properties. To add a Custom Properties location you may need to delete the existing location first (SolidWorks can only handle one location for the Custom Properties file).
  16. Apply any customisations, such as keyboard shortcuts, toolbar layouts, etc. Back these settings up using the Copy Settings Wizard.
  17. Consider creating a Disc Image of your HDD, to allow for quick restoration to a known clean install state. Click here to read more.
  18. Toolbox installations

  19. If you have SolidWorks Professional or Premium with the Toolbox add-in, the correct method to update the Toolbox data is as follows:
    1. Browse to your existing (e.g. 2011) Toolbox data folder - by default this is in C:\SolidWorks Data.
    2. Copy the folder and its contents - rename the copied folder something like "SolidWorks Data 2012". Make another copy of the orignal folder and keep it with the rest of your backed up SW2011 data.
    3. During installation, on the Summary page under Toolbox Options >> Change. Choose to "Upgrade an existing Toolbox location" and browse to the "SolidWorks Data 2012" folder. Continue the installation process.
    4. This will upgrade the contents of the new folder, leaving the previous folder intact if you wish to continue using SolidWorks 2011. If you do not need the 2011 data anymore, you can delete the orignal "SolidWorks Data" folder.
  20. If you have already installed SolidWorks and need to change the location of the Toolbox from the default local installation path to a file server path, from within SolidWorks >> Options >> System Options tab >> Hole Wizard/Toolbox >> Browse to the correct location.

Further information

Further information on installing SolidWorks can be found here:
  • SolidWorks Installation and Admin Guide – the official Admin guide.
  • How to ensure a clean uninstall and update of SolidWorks – a more involved method of preparing your machine for a clean SolidWorks installation.

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