SCIA Engineer on Mac OS X



Brief introduction

Nowadays various engineering companies use Mac computers for their daily jobs. This also implies a need for the use of SCIA Engineer on Mac hardware.

Originally, SCIA Engineer is written for Windows operating systems. But nevertheless, it is possible to analyze SCIA Engineer projects on Mac computers.

To run the SCIA Engineer software on Mac OS X virtualization software has to be used. Parallels Desktop 7 is recommended for this. When Parallels Desktop 7 is used, a Windows operating system may be installed as a virtual machine and Windows applications are used alongside Mac OS X applications. In this way, the user has 2 operating systems at the same time.

Detailed Technical information

General Information

SCIA Engineer is written for Windows operating system. To run it on Mac OS X you need to use virtualization software. Parallels Desktop 7 is recommended for this.

When you use Parallels Desktop 7, you can install a Windows operating system as a virtual machine and use Windows applications alongside Mac OS X applications. You will be using 2 operating systems at the same time. Keep in mind you’ll need extra resources (big hard drive, extra RAM, …).

Information about Parallels Desktop

You can find the system requirements and supported guest operating systems here:


Apart from the Mac OS X license, you will also need a license for the Parallels Desktop 7 software and a license for the Windows operating system you want to install as a virtual machine.

Off course, you will also need a license for SCIA Engineer.


While Parallels Desktop 7 supports a large number of guest operating systems and Mac OS X versions, it is impossible to test all of these combinations. We have focused our tests on the latest hard- and software. Here are the specifications used during the tests.


MacBook Pro 15”

Intel Core i7 2,4 GHz CPU

6 GB DDR3 RAM memory

AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1 GB RAM

1440 x 900 pixels screen resolution

750 GB 5400 RPM hard drive


Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3 fully updated

Parallels Desktop 7

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

SCIA Engineer 2011

Installing Parallels Desktop 7

Parallels Desktop comes as a normal Mac installer program. Just follow the on-screen instructions to install.

You can find the Parallels Desktop 7 Getting Started Guide here:

Installing Windows 7 on Parallels Desktop 7

Installing Windows 7 on Parallels Desktop is easy. Make sure you have your Windows 7 Installation DVD and your license key at hand when you start the installation.

1. Insert the Windows 7 installation DVD in your DVD drive

2. Start Parallels Desktop from the Mac’s Application menu. The first time you launch Parallels Desktop you see the following screen.

Figure 1: The Parallels Wizard

3. Click Install Windows from DVD or image file followed by Continue. In the next screen you can select the source for your Windows installation DVD. We used a physical DVD for the installation, but you could also install from a disc image. You would then need to select the disc image here

Figure 2: Windows Installation Source Selection

4. After selecting the correct source for your Windows Installation DVD, click Continue

5. In the next screen you will be asked to enter your Windows product key. Enter the Windows product key here. Also make sure the option Express installation is checked. This will make the setup faster and easier

Figure 3: Windows Product Key Screen

6. After entering the Windows product key, click Continue

7. In the next screen you can choose how you would like Windows to behave. For best user experience, select Like a Mac. Both options are explained. You can always change this behavior later.

Figure 4: Select the Integration with Mac

8. After selecting your preferred behavior, click Continue. In the next screen you can enter a name for the virtual machine you are about to create. If you want to install multiple virtual machines, this name will help you identify them. Make sure you check the box Customize settings before installation. Then click Continue

Figure 5: Name and Location

9. In the following screen you will be able to assign resources to your virtual machine. This is an important step as it will influence the performance of your virtual machine. Choose the amount of RAM you would like to assign and the number of CPU cores. You can always change these settings later. A good strategy is to assign a minimal amount of resources an upgrade in steps when needed. On our test PC we assigned 2 GB of RAM and 2 CPU cores.

Figure 6: Resource selection and options

10. After assigning resources, you can browse the other tabs (Options and Hardware) to check the settings. For a normal setup of SCIA Engineer, the default settings will do just fine. When done, close the window by clicking the red close button in the title bar. You will then see a brief summary of the resources provided. If you want to change something, click the Configure button.

Figure 7: Summary before installation

11. When you are done configuring the settings, click Continue

12. Parallels Desktop will now start installing Windows 7 as a virtual machine. This may take some time. You can see the progress. Depending on the version and license of Windows you have purchased you may need to specify extra information for the Windows installation, as you would have to do for a normal Windows installation on a regular PC. Please provide the necessary information when asked. Note that your Mac may get slow during the installation of Windows. This is normal. During the setup procedure the virtual machine may also reboot a few times. Don’t interfere with these reboots!

Figure 8: The Windows installation process

When the installation is complete, Windows will restart one last time. If you selected the Like a Mac behavior during setup, you will not actually see a Windows taskbar or background. Parallels will boot in Coherent mode. I’ll explain this in the following section.

If you selected Like a PC behavior you will see the Windows taskbar, background and icons. In this guide we use coherent mode.

How to use Windows together with Mac OS X?

Windows should now be installed in Parallels Desktop on your Mac computer and it should have started right after the setup completed. So where can you find it?

Parallels Desktop 7 lets Windows 7 work in Coherent mode. What this means is that you won’t actually see you Windows desktop and all the icons. This is a nice feature that lets you run Windows applications seamlessly on your Mac.

Here’s how you can tell that Windows is running. Take a look at your Mac’s task bar at the top of your screen. If the Windows 7 virtual machine has started up, you should notice some icons that weren’t there before.

Figure 9: Windows tray icons in the Mac title bar

Windows 7 icons that you would normally see in the taskbar at the lower right are now displayed on the Mac title bar alongside all the OS X icons. You’ll also see the Parallels Desktop icon; the 2 red lines. This icon gives you access to the Windows 7 start menu.

To access the Windows 7 start menu, right-click the Parallels Desktop icon in the Mac title bar.

Figure 10: Windows 7 Start Menu on Mac

From here you can launch all your Windows application. If you launch an application it will just be loaded within your Mac desktop. Here’s what it looks like when you start the calculator from the Windows start menu.

Figure 11: A Windows application running within the Mac desktop

You will also see running Windows applications in the Mac OS X dock at the bottom of the screen. They are marked with the Parallels Desktop red lines as well so you can easily differentiate Windows and Mac applications.

Figure 12: Running Windows applications in the OS X Dock

For more information, please read the Getting Started Guide, found here:

Update your Windows virtual machine

Before installing any software, it is recommended to update your Windows installation. This ensures you have all security updates installed. You should also consider installing an antivirus application on your Windows installation.

To update your Windows virtual machine, follow these steps.

  1. Open the Windows start menu by right-clicking the Parallels Desktop icon in the Mac title bar
  2. Click Control Panel
  3. Click System and Security
  4. Click Windows Update
  5. Click Turn on automatic updates

Windows will now start searching for updates. When updates are found, you’ll see a screen looking like this.

Figure 13: Updating Windows

  1. Click Install Updates

Windows will now install all updates. In the future you will also be notified when updates are available. Keep your system up-to-date for safety reasons. Updating the first time will take some time. After updates you’ll most likely need to reboot the Windows virtual machine.

Checking the keyboard settings

When Parallels installs Windows it may not set the keyboard layout correctly in Windows. So it’s recommended to check the keyboard layout to avoid surprises.

Also, a Mac keyboard differs from a standard Windows keyboard. Parallels installs some extra drivers to ease the transition.

  1. Open the Windows start menu by right-clicking the Parallels icon in the Mac title bar
  2. Select Control Panel
  3. Click Clock, Language, and Region
  4. Click Change keyboards or other input methods
  5. In the window that appears, click Change Keyboards
  6. Click the Add button
  7. Browse for the correct keyboard layout. Note that you’ll find extra keyboard layouts marked with Apple (Parallels). You should select these layouts when available for your keyboard. In this example I selected Belgian (period, Apple) – Parallels

Figure 14: Adding the correct keyboard layout

  1. Remove all keyboard layouts you don’t need

Installing the USB Protection Dongle

If you use local license protection for SCIA Engineer, with a USB Dongle, you need to make sure the dongle is inserted in your Mac computer. But the dongle needs to work in Windows. Follow these steps to make sure the dongle is found by your Windows installation and working in SCIA Engineer.

  1. With the Windows 7 virtual machine running, insert the USB dongle in your Mac computer. After a few seconds you should see the following screen.

Figure 15: Redirecting USB Dongle to Windows

  1. Press and hold the ALT button on your keyboard and click on your Windows virtual machine

Parallels allows you to redirect USB device to your Windows virtual machine. Since the USB dongle for SCIA Engineer only works with Windows, you use the ALT key to let Parallels automatically redirect the USB dongle each time it is inserted. For other USB devices you can select each time where you need them.

Windows will now try to install the drivers for the dongle but will fail. Don’t worry about that. The drivers will be installed during the setup of SCIA Engineer.

Installing SCIA Engineer

Now that your Windows installation is ready and up-to-date, you can start installing SCIA Engineer.

  1. Insert the SCIA Engineer installation DVD
  2. When loaded you should see the following pop-up window

Figure 16: SCIA Engineer Setup

  1. Click Run setup.exe to start the installation

From this point on, you can follow the Installation Guide found in the Docs folder on the installation DVD, up until the setup process asks you to install the dongle drivers. When you get to that step, continue with this guide.

When the setup program detects that the USB dongle drivers are missing, you’ll see the following pop-up.

Figure 17: Sentinal Driver installation

  1. Click Yes to start the installation of the drivers

Due to the way Parallels Desktop makes sharing files between OS X and Windows very easy, the installation of the Sentinel drivers will not work as expected and you will see the following error message.

Figure 18: Error when installing Sentinel USB drivers

Fortunately there’s an easy way of fixing this.

  1. Click OK in this error message. The Sentinel installer then asks you to select a folder to extract the driver package

Figure 19: Specify a folder for the Sentinel drivers

  1. Browse to Local Disk (C:) and click OK
  2. The Sentinel USB driver installation will now be able to continue. Just follow the on-screen instructions to finish the setup

The protection dongle is now installed and you can proceed with protection setup like you would on a regular PC.

Additional Information

With Parallels Desktop 7 and Windows 7 installed on your PC, you now have the best of both worlds. If you have other software that doesn’t run on Mac, you can now install it in your Windows virtual machine as well!

Astrid Bastiaens