SOLIDWORKS Administrative Images Setup Guide

Article by Scott Durksen, CSWE updated October 10, 2017


The use of SOLIDWORKS Administrative Images is very helpful when you need to install SOLIDWORKS on multiple machines.  Once the Admin Image is created and customized, installing on each client machine does not require any setup.  Images are typically used with network licenses as each install uses the same serial number.  In general, installing on more than 10 machines would benefit from setting up an Admin Image to save time.  Yet even with a smaller number of machines, this can be beneficial as it restricts control to prevent users from downloading, upgrading, changing serial numbers/products and settings.  Once the Admin Image is installed on a client, they can only uninstall from the Control Panel.

For a full explanation of setting up and deploying Admin Images, please refer to the SOLIDWORKS Installation and Administration Guides.  This blog post will only cover the basics.


Download the full installation files for the version and service pack that you require for the Admin Image.  The overall SOLIDWORKS files downloaded through the Installation Manager will include everything it needs to generate the Admin Image.


To begin creating the actual Image, run Setup.exe from the installation files.  When the Installation Manager launches, choose ‘Administrative image’.  Here you will have 2 options: create with default settings or use settings/files from an existing image.  The default will require downloading all files to create a full image.  Using an existing image will reuse some of the files so the download can be smaller in size.  Though we’d recommend downloading all files first using the ‘Download and Share all files’ option.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image

If choosing to use an existing image, be sure to specify the folder location of the older image.  This folder must contain the full previous image files.

SOLIDWORKS Import Existing Administrative Image Settings

Enter all applicable serial numbers.  At this stage, only one serial number for each product can be entered.  If you require different serial numbers for different users, this can be modified after the Admin Image is created.

NOTE: If installing the SOLIDWORKS PDM client (PDM Professional or PDM Standard), a serial number is not required.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Serial Numbers

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Serial Numbers

On the Summary screen, the default location will be saved to C:\SOLIDWORKS Admin\SOLIDWORKS <version and service pack> and can be modified.  A self-contained folder with all files will be created, so you can copy/move the entire folder to a different location.  This would typically be stored on a network server for all clients to access.  The Windows account used to install on the client will need at least “Read” permissions to the image folder.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Default Location

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Default Location


Once the Admin Image is created, the folder will contain the application ‘sldAdminOptionEditor.exe’.  This is used to customize the image settings.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Option Editor

Select ‘Setup’ to see the default settings.  If you wish to modify any setting, click on the Edit Settings button at the top (icon with the pencil).

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Option Editor

Some specific items worth noting when editing:

  • If using network serial numbers, in the Serial Numbers section and point to the correct server for SNL Server Port@server

  • In Client Installation Options, be sure to specify if it should upgrade any existing installs or create a separate install of a newer major version and leave the existing installation separate
  • Also in Client Installation Options, you can choose a specific settings file to push to clients.  This also allows you to lock down specific settings for users.  See our blog post How to prevent users from changing their SOLIDWORKS System Options
  • IMPORTANT: In Administrative Options, you can specify to run as a different user.  You must have full Administrator permissions during the install of SOLIDWORKS to avoid problems.

  • In Software to Install, select the programs that require installing
  • In Toolbox/Hole Wizard Options, if the path points to an existing local Toolbox folder on the client machine it will automatically upgrade to the major version.  This can be set to point to a network Toolbox, but note that this will not automatically upgrade the network Toolbox.
  • In SOLIDWORKS PDM Client, specify the product and client type.  The PDM vault view settings are manually setup after the installation.

In the event that certain users require different licenses/products/setup you can also override the Global Settings for specific machines and groups of machines.  Use the New Group and New Machine tools to setup variations of overrides.  Machines can be specified using Machine Name, IP Address or IP Address Range.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Group Overrides

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image Machine-Specific Overrides


There are two methods for deploying the installation to the client machines, Manual or Automatic.  The client Windows account needs at least ‘Read’ permissions to the Admin Image folder.  In order to have logs and status updates from each client, the client account must have a minimum of ‘Read/Write’ permissions to the folder <admin_image>\64bit\logs.

The Manual option allows you to email a link to the StartSWInstall.hta file located in the root Admin Image folder.  Selecting the link on a client machine will trigger the installation of the Image to begin.  You can also browse to the Image folder manually and run the .HTA file to begin the install.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image – Manual Deploy

The Automatic option pushes the installation to select clients silently without any interaction by the user.  This requires specific security permissions setup to work properly.  For more detailed information of the required setup, review the section ‘Deploying Automatically’ in the SOLIDWORKS Installation and Administrative Guide.

SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image – Automatic Deploy

The Administration and Installation Guide also provides details on installing via Command-Line.


When a new service pack or version is released and clients need upgrading, you will need to create a new Admin Image folder.  As noted at the beginning of this blog post, you can choose to import settings from a past Admin Image so you don’t need to start all over again.

You can use the same methods of deployment shown above, but another option is to trigger automatic upgrades when clients see a newer version available.  Each time a client opens SOLIDWORKS, it looks to the share folder location of the installed image.  The new Admin Image will create a separate folder, but you can assign the same share name to this new image and remove the share name from the old image.  This way clients will see a newer version and automatically upgrade when starting SOLIDWORKS.

  1. Browse to the folder of the original administrative image
  2. Right-click on the folder and choose Properties
  3. On the Sharing tab, choose to not share the folder anymore
  4. Right-click on the new administrative image folder and choose Properties
  5. On the Sharing tab, set the applicable sharing options and make the share name match the previous image folder share name

NOTE: This automatic update only applies to SOLIDWORKS installations

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Scott Durksen, CSWE

Scott is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and is based in our Dartmouth, Nova Scotia office.