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Tech Support Blog: Using SOLIDWORKS Online Licensing

Monday June 11, 2018 at 4:24pm

NOTICE: Online Licensing has been discontinued by SOLIDWORKS

Our previous two blog posts have focused on the SOLIDWORKS Admin Portal. Set up of this portal and assigment of SOLIDWORKS products to the respective users (members) is an important prerequisite before SOLIDWORKS Online Licensing can be used- so both are worth a read. Links at the end of this blog allow you to go back and recap any of these previous two.

Our previous two blog posts have focused on the SOLIDWORKS Admin Portal. Set up of this portal and assigment of SOLIDWORKS products to the respective users (members) is an important prerequisite before SOLIDWORKS Online Licensing can be used- so both are worth a read. Links at the end of this blog allow you to go back and recap any of these previous two.

Before we delve into the specifics of setting up Online Licensing, let me give some high level information:

  • You do not have to make your SOLIDWORKS serial key an “Online Licensed” product- it is optional.
  • You can change your mind and revert a SOLIDWORKS Online License product back to a traditional activation based product at any time and as many times as you wish.
  • To convert a SOLIDWORKS license to an Online Licensed product, it must be assigned to a user in the Admin Portal and have its current machine based activation deactivated.
  • Online Licensing is only available for standalone products, and NOT floating products using SolidNetWork Licensing.
  • Online licensing will only work for SOLIDWORKS 2018 products and newer.
  • As the name suggests you should only use Online Licensing on machines where an internet connection is reliable and available more often than not.
  • Online Licensing is great for individuals that need to use SOLIDWORKS on different PCs (i.e. home and office) as your access to the software follows your user login account.
  • Online licensing should not be used to share SOLIDWORKS licenses between users- it is for an individual to pick up their own license on different computers i.e. at the office and at work.
  • You “login” to use SOLIDWORKS rather than the activation server being checked as it does with traditional machine based activation.
  • Online licensing is not using SOLIDWORKS in the cloud- it is simply a means of validating your access to your locally installed version of SOLIDWORKS.
  • There is an offline mode you can trigger for up to 30 days.
  • You can only login on one PC at a time, but don’t need to remember to keep logging out since there is a force sign-out option.
  • You can synchronise your SOLIDWORKS settings by storing them within your account- therefore no matter where you login, your user interface, keyboard and mouse shortcuts etc can stay the same.
  • Online licensing is available for permanent (perpetual) and term (rental) license types.
  • A user can mix online licenses with traditional activation based and Network (SNL) licenses- i.e. online enabled SOLIDWORKS, activation based Simulation and Network based PDM on the same machine.
  • Online licensing is great for admins- if a user leaves the company you simply remove their access to the license- with machine based activation you cannot revoke a license unless you retain the PC they used SOLIDWORKS on.
  • Online licensing removes the need for the individual to remember to deactivate their license at the end of the work day to allow use at home, and likewise deactivate when finished with at home to use again at work.

Still think it is for you? Then read on…

Swapping a product to Online Licensing

This is all done via the Admin Portal as discussed in blogs 1 and 2 in this series. Therefore you must have invited the member who will use online licensing into the Portal and have the Admin account login information to make the change, or ask the Admin user to do this for you.

Once you have found the serial key (from the Products tab) you wish to make online enabled you click into it and will see this screen:

As per the tooltip, Online Licensing is prevented until the traditional activation of SOLIDWORKS is removed from the machine that is listed. For my machine, SSM-AHARTLES, I need to open SOLIDWORKS and use Help > Deactivate License. This still has to be done even if you intend to use Online Licensing on this same PC.

The other requirement is that the product is assigned to only one user/member- this would be shown further down that same screen. Any more than one member, you should select and remove the ones not required from this list.

Here is the workflow that would allow a product to be made Online License enabled:

After the product is made Online License enabled here is what happens under various conditions on the user’s PC.

User assigned to Online Licensing already has SOLIDWORKS installed

Of course prior to making the licensing Online ready, you had to deactivate SOLIDWORKS, so naturally when it is next opened on the user’s PC it will request activation. The activation server now knows it is an Online License and so you will get an initial warning of this prompting to open SOLIDWORKS again, followed by a login request. Only the user login that has been assigned this license will be accepted.

New machine installation

You can use a “Login” option on the installer screen- this will then know the product serial keys assigned to this user and so automates the entering of the serial number information. Once installed, the login screen as above appears on first launch. If you choose not to login during install, then the first launch of SOLIDWORKS will query the serial key status, realise it is an Online license and request login.

Working between two or more machines

The beauty of online licensing is that you can login to SOLIDWORKS on any PC that has SOLIDWORKS installed with your assigned serial key without needing to remember to deactivate the license. This is the workflow working between more than one PC.

  • SOLIDWORKS is installed on both PCs with the same installation serial key- this would likely be the case already for the home and office environment online licensing is great for.
  • The Product is assigned to a Member (user) and made Online Licensing ready.
  • SOLIDWORKS is launched on a PC (work for example) and the login screen allows access to SOLIDWORKS.
  • At the end of the working day you close SOLIDWORKS down but have not logged out.
  • You get home and open SOLIDWORKS on your Home PC and are asked to login.
  • The work PC is seen to have the login assigned to it and so you would see this message

  • Saying Yes to this logs out the session at work and allows you to continue at home. The reverse then happens at work the following day if you forget to logout at home.

If you do remember, you can always logout of the SOLIDWORKS session to avoid the warning above being displayed and instead just get the normal login screen.

There may be a scenario (although unlikely) that you forgot to close down SOLIDWORKS on the other PC and maybe left some files open in that session (e.g. at work). In this event as above when you launch SOLIDWORKS to start using again (e.g. at home) you get the same warning to logout the other session. What you won’t see on the work PC (until you get back to the office) is the message below. This is basically saying the SOLIDWORKS session has been interrupted by being logged out and any files that need saving can be. You would therefore have to act on this message before re-opening SOLIDWORKS at work the following day.

Switching back from Online Licensing to Machine based Activation

If you are not finding the online licensing good for you (for example you keep losing internet connection) you can swap back to the machine based activation method you have used up to now. This is all done by the Admin back in the Admin Portal. This will only be denied if an active session (and login) is found - so use the Logout option pictured earlier or close SOLIDWORKS on the PC before switching back.

When SOLIDWORKS is restarted after being switched back to Activation-based there is an initial warning after the login attempt, but when SOLIDWORKS is restarted it reverts to the Activation wizard screen.

What else can I do with Online Licensing?

When logged in to an Online License session you can use the profile icon in the upper right corner to gain more menu items as below. Most notably you can logout in readiness for use elsewhere (don’t worry if you forget this though) or you can take the license offline for up to 30 days. 

You can also synchronise your settings so that wherever you use the software things look and work in a familiar way. Using Tools > Options > Synchronize Settings you can upload and set the frequency of the synchronisation. More information on this can be found here.


So there we are for blog number 3. A lot to take in on this one but ultimately it is important to understand if online licensing will be right for you and some of the message dialogues you may see when making the switch. Our last blog on the subject are some frequency asked questions.

By Adam Hartles

Group Technical Manager


NEXT BLOG >>>>>> 04 Frequently Asked Questions

PREVIOUS BLOG <<<<<< 02 Using the SOLIDWORKS Admin Portal

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