Choose Your Strategy
Mac users have two big strategies to choose from:
Using this strategy, you don’t install any software on your computer. Instead, you use your web browser to connect to a remotely-located server which enables you to use a Windows virtual machine that has the Revit software installed on it.
The advantage of using this strategy is that it is easy to setup and use. No software needs to be installed on your computer. But the tradeoffs are:
- This virtual machine is only available when you are connected to a Stanford network — either via WiFi (when on campus) or through the Stanford VPN (when remote).
- This virtual machine is pre-configure to a pre-determined set of applications. You don’t have the ability to install new apps or charge the configuration.
This strategy gives you more independence (you can use Windows anywhere — even when you cannot connect to the Stanford network) and flexibility to install the software you want to use. But, the tradeoff is that there’s a bit of setup to make that possible. You’ll need:
- At least 45 GB for free disk space to host the Windows files
- A copy of Windows 10 or 11 (available for free)
- A windows environment. Options include:
- A Bootcamp partition (only available for Intel-based Macs)
- A virtual machine environment (options available for Intel-based or Apple Silicon Macs)
Steps to Follow
Stanford has begun offering access to the Stanford University Virtual Computing Cluster (also known as Apporto). You can use the virtual machines in this virtual computing cluster to access Windows (or Mac) software from your Mac computer, Windows computer, or iPad/Android tablet — most any computing device that offers a supported web browser.
To access these virtual machines:
- Connect to the Stanford VPN.
- Go to https://Stanford.apporto.com .
- Launch the Windows GPU Desktop virtual machine.
- Wait a few moments as the Windows virtual machine is set up and appears in your browser window.
- You can launch Revit 2022 from the desktop icon or the Windows Start menu.
When using the Windows virtual machine, you’ll need to be intentional about choosing where files are stored:
- When you save files on the virtual machine, they will be stored in a special shared folder associated with your SUNet ID that will be available whenever you login to an Apporto virtual machine.
- To store a local copy — which is always a smart choice — use the Download or Upload buttons in the toolbar to copy files to or from your local computer.
- Or, even better, upload your files to a cloud-based drive (like your Autodesk Construction Cloud folder), so they’ll always be available to you from any computer on the web.
Keep in mind that your ability to install new software or reconfigure the virtual machine has been restricted by the administrators of this system. If you need to customize the environment for your work, you’ll need to use Strategy 2 — setting up a Windows virtual environment on your computer.
If you work on a Mac computer, you’ll need to install a 64-bit version of Windows on your Mac to use software that requires Windows.
The process will vary based on the type of processor your Mac computer uses. The steps below outline installation guidelines. If you have problems with the installation, please reach out to your course's teaching team.
- There are advantages to each approach, but the essential tradeoff is typically:
- Bootcamp is only available on Intel-based Macs. If you have a newer Apple Silicon-based Mac, you'll need to use a virtual environment.
- A Bootcamp partition can only be created by using free space on your Mac's primary hard disk. That space will be dedicated to the Bootcamp partition, and won't be available to the Mac file system.
- Virtual environments are more convenient to use (no need to reboot).
- Virtual environments require more RAM memory:
- To use the virtualization option, you’ll need at least 8 gigabytes of RAM on your Mac (so you can allocate 4 gigabytes of RAM to the virtual machine when it is running).
- So, if your Mac has less than 8 gigabytes of RAM memory (and an Intel-based processor), you’ll need to use the Bootcamp option.
- Both options require at least 45 GB of free disk space on your computer to install Windows and the software that we’ll be using in class.
- A Parallels or VMware Fusion partition can be created on an external hard disk if space on your Mac's primary hard disk is very limited.
- The key is look for a speedy drive (one that says "up to 1050 MB/s" or "USB 3.2 Gen 2" or faster).
- The size of the drive is up to you and your budget. I'd recommend a 500GB drive (available for around $69) or larger.
If your Mac has less than 45 GB of free space available on the internal disk, you can setup and run Parallels or VMware Fusion from an external hard disk.
You'll need to have this external hard disk attached to your Mac while running the Windows-based software, but you can disconnect it when not using Windows.
The key to using this strategy successfully is to get the fastest external drive that you can reasonably afford. Since you'll be accessing the files on this external drive continuously while using Windows, the speed of the drive has a very big impact on the performance of the Windows software.
Here's a link to some USB-C external SSD (solid state) drives on Amazon.
Refer to the below PDF to determine your computer's processor type, RAM, and hard drive space. The flowchart at the end will then help determine how you should install the Windows environment.
- Stanford students can download and install 64-bit version of Windows 10 or 11 for free by going to Stanford's Software Licensing Webstore:
- "Purchase" a free license for Window 10 or 11 EDU.
- Download the ISO file to your Mac hard disk.
- Save the Windows product key (the very long code number) in a safe place. You'll need it to activate your copy of Windows
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You have two options for creating the Windows partition:
- subdividing your Mac hard disk to create a new physical partition
- using a virtualization environment to create a virtual partition file that can be located on any disk drive
- On your Mac, go to: Applications > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant
- Follow the prompts to repartition your Mac hard disk, giving at least 45 GB to the Windows partition.
- Navigate to the downloaded Windows ISO file when prompted by Boot Camp Assistant.
- You can purchase Parallels Desktop for Mac from the On The Hub website for $39.99
- Run the Parallels Desktop Installer, and enter your Windows product key (from the previous step) when prompted.
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- You can download VMware Fusion for Mac from the Stanford Software Licensing web store for free
- Run the VMware Fusion Installer, and enter your Windows product key (from the previous step) when prompted.
Refer to the PDF below for step-by-step instructions of installing the Windows 11 ARM Insider preview in a virtual machine on a Mac with an M1 chip.
After creating your Parallels or VMware Fusion virtual machine, you must configure it to provide at least 2 GB of RAM (preferrably 4 GB or more if available) to the Windows partition.
- Open the Parallels application.
- Select the virtual machine from the Parallels Virtual Machines window.
- Open the Virtual Machine menu and choose Configure…
- Click on the Hardware tab, and select CPU & Memory from the left column.
- Check the amount of memory recommended under the Automatic option.
- If your computer has less than the recommended amounts, choose the Manual option and set the amount of memory allocated to the virtual machine Processors to at least 2 GB of RAM (preferably 4 GB or more if available).
- Click on the Options tab, and select Sharing from the left column.
- Turn off (uncheck) Share Mac user folder with Windows.
- Open the Share folders pull-down menu and choose Home Folder only.
- Restart your virtual machine.
- On the Windows desktop, you should see a folder called "Mac Files" with a "Home" folder nested inside. You can access any Mac Files saved to your Mac environment through this folder structure.