How to Copy Your SOLIDWORKS Settings Correctly When Upgrading to a New Major Release

After SOLIDWORKS releases a new major release, we receive a lot of phone calls to Computer Aided Technology, Inc. (CATI) Technical Support. One issue that comes up very often is that the Default Template locations and other Tools-Options-File Locations are pointing to the old locations where the previous release was installed. Have you ever wondered why this happens during an upgrade?

Copy Settings Wizard

The easiest way to copy your settings is to use the SOLIDWORKS Copy Settings Wizard. The purpose of the SOLIDWORKS Copy Settings Wizard is to copy settings from one computer and transfer them to another computer so that they all have the same file locations, performance settings, etc. File locations, along with all other custom settings in SOLIDWORKS, are stored in the Windows registry.

Something I Did Not Know Until Recently

When a new release of SOLIDWORKS is run for the first time on a system that had a previous version of SOLIDWORKS installed, the new release will use the existing registry information from the most recent major release. For example, if SOLIDWORKS 2015 is installed and is run on a system that previously had SOLIDWORKS 2014 installed, SOLIDWORKS 2015 will take the settings from the SOLIDWORKS 2014 registry and merge the settings into the new SOLIDWORKS 2015 registry.

So, if there is or was a previous installation of SOLIDWORKS, Toolbar customizations, Tools-Options settings, hotkey's, file locations and many other customizations are stored in the HKCUSoftwareSolidWorks registry. This is not an issue if you have customized file locations (like a shared network location). SOLIDWORKS automatically keeps your settings so that you do not need to re-enter those locations after performing a new installation. However, that is where the File Locations problem described above originates! The default file locations path may automatically point to the path specified in previous installation rather than the new installation path.

So, How Do We Fix This?

Let me show you the proper way to move your customizations from one major version of SOLIDWORKS to another if you do not use a shared network location.

  1. With SOLIDWORKS closed, open the previous version's SOLIDWORKS Copy Settings Wizard (In my example, START->All Programs->SolidWorks->SOLIDWORKS 2014->SOLIDWORKS Tools->Copy Settings Wizard 2014)


  2. Make sure that Save Settings is selected and then click the Next button.
  3. Choose a name and file location to save to (IE: Desktop).


  4. Check everything (Keyboard shortcuts, Menu customization, Toolbar layout…)
  5. Click the Finish button.


You have now saved you previous versions settings. In this case, I saved my SOLIDWORKS 2014 settings.

The next step is to rename the SOLIDWORKS registry.

  1. Click the Windows Start button. (Windows XP: click Run)
  2. Type "regedit" and click the OK button.
    The Registry Editor Window should appear.
  3. Browse to: My ComputerHKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareSolidWorks
  4. Right click on the SOLIDWORKS folder and pick Rename.
  5. Rename it to something like: SolidWorks_Original
  6. Close the Registry Editor window

Run the Latest Version of SOLIDWORKS

In this example, when I run SOLIDWORKS 2015, a new SOLIDWORKS folder is added to the Registry. Note that you may have to refresh the Registry Editor screen to see this.


Next, locate the Copy Settings file on your desktop (or where you saved it) and double click on the file swSettings.sldreg. This time, choose Restore Settings and click the Next button.


Choose the option to apply the settings to SOLIDWORKS 2015.

Make sure that you uncheck System options, and then, click the Next button.


You can create a backup if you would like, but since we renamed the original folder, we already created a backup. Click the Finish button.


By using this method, all of the file locations of SOLIDWORKS 2015 point to the correct 2015 install folders instead of to my old 2014 folder locations. So, from now on, I will recommend using the above steps before I install any new major upgrade of SOLIDWORKS.

Neil Bucalo, CSWP, CSWS-MD
Computer Aided Technology, Inc.

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