SOLIDWORKS is installed but will not open

This article explains how you can resolve the problem: Launching SOLIDWORKS does nothing.



Clicking on the SOLIDWORKS Start menu icon or double clicking the desktop icon appears to do nothing. There is no splash screen, and the application does not launch, and there is no error message. 


Background Information

SOLIDWORKS installs with no error messages and appears in the programs and features menu. For SOLIDWORKS to launch successfully, one key requirement is the Microsoft Prerequisite Visual C++ 2005, or C++2008 and later which is typically installed by the Installation Manager at the same time SOLIDWORKS is installed.


Root Cause

I have had several support calls where the customer has recently updated SOLIDWORKS and when they try to open the program, nothing happens.

When searching the most recent Installation Manager IM log for "return value 3" you may see the entry: "WIDII_SWRegistration Failed to register COM DLL's". Sometimes this points to the UAC being set too high and preventing the IM from making necessary changes to the Windows Registry, or, the more common issue is a problem with the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable Prerequisites.


Options for Repair

1. UAC

To check the Windows User Access Control. Go to the Windows Start button, type in UAC and then click on "User access Control" This will bring up the window below with the level of protection slider. You can temporarily move the slider to the lowest position "Never Notify" and then do a Required reboot.

Now that the PC has been restarted you can know that the UAC will not interfere with the installation.

You can attempt a quick reinstall of SOLIDWORKS at this time, and if successful you can raise this to the 1st or 2nd setting after the repair is completed if you want to for security.

 2. If SOLIDWORKS begins to open and stalls on loading registry.

Try doing a Registry Reset.

3. Microsoft Visual C++2005 and later.

This is the most common cause for a "No Start" condition with SOLIDWORKS.

To Confirm the issue:

Open the SOLIDWORKS Rx tool from Windows Start>SOLIDWORKS 20xx>SOLIDWORKS Tools>SOLIDWORKS Rx

Now look for SOLIDWORKS Safe Modes. Try opening the application by clicking on each of the two safe modes and on each attempt you will see a message saying "SOLIDWORKS is already running" but you don't see anything on the screen. This is a great indicator that you are on the right track.

Uninstall all entries of Microsoft Visual C++2005, and 2008 (some prefer to uninstall year entries of Visual C++).

By going to Windows Start>Control Panel>Programs and Features>uninstall programs. Select the Visual C++ 2005,and /or 2008 entries you wish to uninstall and click "uninstall." Follow this procedure for all other C++ entries you wish to remove.

Once this has completed successfully you can begin a reinstallation of SOLIDWORKS and it will reinstall the needed Microsoft C++prerequisites.

SOLIDWORKS should open normally now.


3A. Side by Side Error C++ 2005SP1

If reinstalling C++ 2005 and newer prerequisites fails to cure the no start condition, or C++2005 will not reinstall, then  do this next.

Open the Windows event viewer by going to the  Windows 7 Start button and typing "event viewer" in the little search box.

Click on "event viewer" in the search results and this tool will open.

Select "Windows Logs" and "Application"

Now you will see the Application event log in the center of the event viewer. Look for a red error entry like the one shown above.

NOTE: If you do not see an error recorded from trying to open SOLIDWORKS then go to C:\Program Files>SolidWorks Corp>SolidWorks>SLDWORKS.exe

Right click and select Run as administrator.

Refresh the event viewer with one click on F5

Now you should see a red error in the event viewer application log.

Click on the red entry and it will bring up an explanation. If the explanation has this as part of it's message: Side by Side ErrorMicrosoft.VC80.ATL,processorArchitecture="amd64",publicKeyToken="1fc8b3b9a1e18e3b",type="win32",version="8.0.50608.0" could not be found. Please use sxstrace.exe for detailed diagnosis.

You can fix it by downloading both C++2005 SP1 redistributables from Microsoft:

X86 for 32bit

C++ 2005 SP1 32bit

X64 for 64 bit

C++ 2005 SP1 64bit

Save the files "vcredist_x86.exe and vcredist_x64" to the affected computer.

Now remove all current copies of the C++2005 redistributable from Windows and then install the C++2005 sp1 downloads from Microsoft. Install both 32 and 64 bit versions.

This should cure the Side by Side error and SOLIDWORKS should now open normally.

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  • Be sure to install the regular C++2005 and C++2008 back in along with the C++2005sp1 x86 and 64

  • Regular C++ means Non-service packed or original C++2005 / 2008
    as compared to C++2005 SP1


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