Quick Start Guide: Installing Zemax OpticStudio via CADpass R20

Licensing Requirements or Restrictions
Usage terms and conditions apply to this software. For more information, refer to Licensing Requirements or Restrictions on the associated product page:

Table of Contents

This quick start guide provides instructions for installing OpticStudio Professional from Zemax LLC on a Windows 10 system using CMC Microsystem’s CADpass to access shared licenses on the CMC License Management System (LMS).

Prerequisites for Installing OpticStudio with CMC License Manager System (LMS)

You must meet the following criteria before installing OpticStudio:

  • Students must register with CMC at
  • Faculty supervisors can subscribe through the CMC subscription page at
  • You must have administrator rights for the computer on which you are installing this software
  • You must have a unique login name (LINUX or Windows) that does not contain a blank space. The following are examples of unacceptable login names: admin or administrator; root; super, sysadmin, user, owner, student, guest, temp, and system.

System Requirements

Optimum hardware specifications and compatible operating systems are listed on the OpticStudio website.

A PDF reader is required to open some of the tutorials and manuals included with the OpticStudio CAD program.

Setting up CADpass R20 for Use with OpticStudio Software

CADpass R20 is a CMC Microsystems’ license access client and is used by subscribers across Canada to connect to our secure license server(s).

  1. Follow the instructions in the quick start guide to download and install CADpass R20.
  2. Start CADpass R20 and then log in using your CMC Microsystems Username and Password.
  3. When the CAD access window appears, double-click Zemax.
    A red checkmark appears next to the entry, as shown in Figure 1. Leave this checked while you are using the software.

Figure 1: The Zemax Selection in CADpass R20

Obtaining the Software

Download the OpticStudio installer to a temporary location.

Installing the Software

  1. Click the installer executable to launch it.
    A License Agreement window opens where you may accept the terms of the Zemax user agreement. If you are unsure of your obligations under this agreement, contact to discuss them.
  1. To continue, select I accept the agreement and click Next, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The Zemax License Agreement Window

The Information window is displayed.

  1. Close any instances of the program if you are running them, and click Next, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Close Instances of the Program

  1. Select a directory for the CAD program in the Select Destination Location window and the folder/icons that you want to associate with it in the Select Start Menu Folder and the Select Additional Tasks windows.
  2. Click Next after making these selections and click Install to proceed.
    The installation begins (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Extracting Files and Installing/Updating Pre-requisites

When the executable file has finished installing, an Information message is displayed (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: Installer Confirmation Message

  1. Click Next.
    The final window is displayed.
  1. Click Finish.

Setting up OpticStudio License Access

  1. Open a plain text editor and copy the contents of Appendix A into it.
  2. Name this file sntlconfig.xml.
  3. Save the file sntlconfig.xml in the main OpticStudio directory, where the application OpticStudio.exe is located.
  4. Start CADpass R20 by clicking the icon CADpass on your desktop or by launching the program from the CMC Microsystems website.
  5. Click the icon Zemax in the CADpass window to select a license.
  6. Start OpticStudio by clicking its Desktop/Quick Start icon, or by selecting the tool from your Start Menu, as shown in Figure 6.
    The OpticStudio executable may copy additional data files to your designated user data folder.
  1. Click OK to proceed.

Figure 6: OpticStudio in the Start Menu

Note: If the tool finds an available license, the main window opens, as shown in Figure 7. If your installation is fine, but there are no free licenses available, a pop-up window displays a message saying that the program cannot find a license.

Figure 7: Main Window of the OpticStudio CAD Tool

Upgrading to OpticStudio from a Previous Version of Zemax

Users with current installations may upgrade their software releases from within OpticStudio itself. The Zemax website provides instructions for updating your CAD version here.

With the release of OpticStudio 20.2, subscribers will find that they are no longer asked to type in a numeric License Code (Figure 9) before the software will start. Please use this release or later versions for all future installations. For more information about this issue, please contact


Troubleshooting OpticStudio

With the release of OpticStudio 20.1.1, subscribers will find that they are asked to type in a numeric License Code (Figure 8) before the software will start. Contact to obtain a copy of this code, and we will send it to you.

Figure 8: Subscribers May be Asked For a License Code

Do not use the Zemax License Manager to add license information to your installation. It is part of the OpticStudio installation package, and is added to your system, as in Figure 9, but is not used to reach our license server system in Kingston, Ontario.

Figure 9: A copy of the Zemax License Manager is Added to your Workstation During Installation

For assistance with debugging, CMC Microsystems’ technical support staff can perform remote desktop login assistance. Use our support webpage to send in your request. Including software version number, operating system and screenshots of error messages you see will help us to understand your problem.

Other Training, Tutorials, and References

  • “Getting Started…” tutorial, manuals and links to Knowledge Base answers are available through the Help tab of the OpticStudio main window.
  • Books/E-books with specific Zemax examples include:
    • Siew, Ronian, “Perspectives on Modern Optics and Imaging: With Practical Examples using Zemax OpticStudio”, self-published, 2017
    • Sokolova, Elena, “Optimisation Techniques for Diffraction Spectrometers,” SPIE, 2015
    • Lau, Lee, Premachandran and Aibin, “Advanced MEMS Packaging”, McGraw-Hill, 2010
    • Fainman, Psaltis and Yang, “Optofluidics: Fundamentals, Devices and Applications,” McGraw-Hill, 2010
  • Books/E-books with general or older Zemax examples include:
    • Seward, George H., “Optical Engineering Fundamentals,” SPIE, 2010
    • Smith, Warren J., “Modern Optical Engineering: The Design of Optical Systems,” 4th Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2008
    • Fischer, Tadic-Galeb and Yoder, “”Optical System Design”, 2nd Edition, McGraw-Hill, 2008
    • Geary, Joseph M., “Introduction to Lens Design with Practical Zemax Examples,” 2nd edition, Willmann-Bell, 2007
    • Hallock Smith, Gregory, “Practical Computer-Aided Lens Design,” Willmann-Bell, 1998
  • The Zemax website provides an extensive knowledge base at
    Note: Zemax started to limit access to this Knowledge Base from February 2020. Contact to have us retrieve white papers, examples, or other materials from this site for your use.

Other CAD Tools: Compatibility, Support, and Availability

Zemax’s OpticStudio exports files in the following drawing formats:

  • *.IGES,
  • *.DXF, 2D and 3D

These formats are solid modelling file formats that can be imported by tools such as Dassault Systemes’ SolidWorks and ANSYS’s DesignModeler or SpaceClaim. OpticStudio can also export data in the MATLAB .MAT format.

CMC Microsystems supplies SolidWorks, SpaceClaim, and other CAD tools to its subscribers. Contact CMC Microsystems for more information regarding bundling of tools to enhance your research and to complete your designs through thermal, solid body, and material optimization simulations.

Appendix A

The sntlconfig.xml file consists of the lines demarcated below. Note that the file you save must have a *.xml file extension, otherwise the CAD tool will not be able to recognize the file and read its contents.



<!– To discard the values set in this file, remove the comment signs from the following tag –>

<!– <ConfigDiscard/> –>

<!– Type any of the following constants between the Protocol tag:


<Protocol> SP_TCP_PROTOCOL </Protocol>

<!– Type the workstation name/NetBEUI name/IP address/IPX address (of the

system where the key is attached) or an access mode (as specified by your

software vendor) between the AccessMode tag –>

<AccessMode> SP_SERVER_MODE </AccessMode>


<!– Replace with the IP address of your keyserver –>

<!– This is usually the only change you need to make –>


<!– Type a value for the server port, the default port is 7001 –>

<!– This value does not usually have to be changed –>

<ServerPort> 7001 </ServerPort>



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