Summary: To run Rhino on the Mac, get the Work-in-Progress version of Mac Rhino, or run Windows on your Mac.
Updated 30 June 2010
The new “accelerated graphics” support in Parallels Desktop 5 is proving to be quite poor for some OpenGL based applications like Rhino. They list support for OpenGL 2.1 but many users are reporting Rhino crashes.
I have Parallels Desktop 5 and VMWare Fusion 3.1 on my MacBook Pro (4GB RAM, dual core, Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT). I also have a Bootcamp partition with Windows XP Pro on it. To get Parallels to play nice with Rhino, you have to turn off the accelerated hardware control in Rhino. It's under Tools - Options - Appearance - OpenGL. It's the top option. Then at least Rhino is usable and the display driver quits crashing. They will probably fix the problem eventually but I'm not going to pay them for the option to report a problem to them with their own application.
The latest update for VMWare Fusion (3.1) also adds accelerated graphics support. This update includes OpenGL 2.1 support that seems to work well with Rhino. It makes modest improvements in Rhino display performance. For example, if you are in a shaded display (or a false color analysis mode like EMap), and you rotate your view, fewer objects drop out of the display than did before. It is a modest but apparent improvement.
Settings: If you are running a wheel mouse, in VMWare Fusion Preferences, on the Keyboard & Mouse pane, clear the checks from both the Secondary Button and Button 3 shortcut options. This will give you right-mouse clicking like you expect in Windows. Additionally, on the General pane (still in Fusion Preferences), change the Gaming option to: “Always optimize mouse for games”. This will correct the wild tumbling when your mouse pointer moves outside of a viewport in which you are Rotating the view.
That said, neither can hold a candle to the performance of rebooting to the Bootcamp partition and running Windows directly. Then you have access to all your RAM, all of your processor cores, and access to the accelerated hardware provided by your graphics chip. On my MacBook Pro, Rhino performance is an order of magnitude better. Bootcamp is by far the best. VMWare Fusion is a distant second, and Parallels Desktop is bringing up the rear staggering a few steps behind Fusion.
MacBook Pro with ATI X1600 graphics under Bootcamp Added 5 May 2010
I'm afraid the outlook is grim in this situation. The X1600 is probably one of the worst supported cards for OpenGL on Windows, and it's not all that great of hardware either, which is probably why Apple ditched them almost immediately for NVidia in their MacBooks. But that's not really the problem here. Read on.
I have first hand experience with this, for I have the EXACT MacBook Pro of which you speak. The issue isn't that Rhino isn't seeing the ATI card, it's that the Bootcamp drivers do not support/provide an ICD in their drivers. In other words, there is no hardware acceleration available in the drivers provided by Bootcamp. And for most people running Windows on theses systems, there is very little hope….except….
There is a process by which you can get modded desktop drivers to install using a utility called “MobilityDotNet”…it basically works like this:
1) Download the desktop version of the drivers onto the MBP
2) Start the driver installation process.
3) Just after the drivers files have unpacked and have been copied to a destination folder but BEFORE they actaully start to install (ie. There's a pause in the installation where an ATI dialog is asking what you'd like to do), you run MobilityDotNet utility.
4) The latter step will modify the appropriate files so that the drivers will recognize that specific MBP as a “valid” piece of supported hardware, at which point you can now continue with the ATI driver installation.
5) Reboot is required, after which, you should have the drivers installed with the ICD
…now, this is what I've been doing for the past 2+ years for my MBP, however, every new release of the desktop drivers always seems to fix something, but break something else. The only driver version I have found to work reliably is 8.7…however that was for XP and Vista… I've recently put Win7 on my MBP and the 9.3 drivers seem to be working…but again, I had to go through the same steps above.
So, any time you see the situation where checking and unchecking Rhino's “Use hardware accelerated modes” does nothing (ie. You always see Microsoft Generic….)… it usually means 1 of 2 things:
1) There is no ICD installed 2) The user has dialed down the hardware acceleration setting inside Windows' display settings Troubleshooting section.
…but usually it's the 1st one.
Sorry, but there's just really no other answer or solution for this situation… I do know that iRhino works pretty well, but that's obviously because the OS has native support for the hardware, and the entire OSX is based on OpenGL and depends on acceleration…so it had better work…and it does.
I wish I had better news.
We successfully installed RhinoCeros 4.0 on Parallels Desktop 3.0. Our Mac Mini with Parallels 3D acceleration ran Rhino's samples smoothly. We rendered the “Human Head 2” sample model by Maxwell plug-in without any problem, so we think Parallels Desktop is a good way for using RhinoCeros on Mac before stable version of Rhino will be released for this platform. All are welcome to use it!
Update: 20 Apr 2010
I have received two reports of users with Rhino V4 crash problems and Penguin with shadows turned on in Parallels V5. Both sounded like display driver related symptoms to me.
I installed Parallels V5 on my MacBook Pro. I had Parallels V4 before. I didn't have any problems with the install. The V5 installer complained that I needed to allocate more memory for accelerated graphics so I did. I added a new 32-bit Win7 installation and ran all of the Windows Critical Updates. Then I installed Rhino V4 SR6 from CD and ran it without errors. I downloaded and installed the SR8 update and that went smoothly too. Next I installed Penguin 2, ran it's SR2 update, and set up a simple rendering with shadows turned on. That worked fine too.
The bad news is I could not duplicate the user crashes. The good news is Parallels V5 seems to work just fine.
Michael Meyer from flexiCAD.com wrote:
Hi, I have set up Apple's Mac Mini with Boot Camp and Rhino. You can find the complete story (sorry, only in German) on our following webpage:
And some pictures about it:,,
David Twelves wrote:
Hi, I just wanted to let you guys know that Rhino3D works on OS X under Parallels Desktop for Mac. Here is a link to the software: http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop
My machine is a Mac Mini with a 2GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 2 gigs of ram, and a 100gb 7200rpm hard drive. I configured my virtual Windows system with a single-core 2GHz processor (software limitation, only one core can be used), 1 gig of ram, and a 40 gig hard drive. Rhino runs very nicely. There is some lag in the interface due to the fact that the video card is entirely emulated, but overall it is working fine.
i have parallels 3.0, on a MACBOOK core 2Duo 2.0 and works fine.. but i can´t see what i am drawing.. just what i drew.. the rest works fine..
Note: The reports above came from users running Parallels 2.0. One user now reports that Rhino 4 crashes a lot when using Parallels 3.0, so Parallels may no longer be a good option for running Windows Rhino 4 on OS X.
I'm the unlucky user from above. I can precise that Rhino 4 works well but only with Parallels 2.0, and for Parallels 3.0 you can run Rhino 3 !? My system is WinXP on Mac OS X - MACBOOK Pro Core 2Duo 2.16 GHz
Rhino 4 is still not stable on Parallels 3.0, use VMware Fusion 1 much better and totally stable!
v1.0 now working perfectly for Rhino 4 with win XP and much better than Parallels !
If you want a virtual machine in OS X for Rhino this is the one.
XAHO use MACBOOK Pro - ATI X1600 - 2Gb ram - OS X - Win XP Pro
Added - 1/12/2009 John Brock, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am running VMware Fusion 2.0.1 on my MACBOOK Pro. It is running Rhino V4 and in-house builds of V5 very well. It does not support hardware accelerated OpenGL, but the performance is surprisingly good. To get the normal 3-button mouse to work correctly (for elevator mode, etc.), in Fusion Preferences - Keyboard & Mouse, turn off the Secondary Button and Button 3 controls. They are on by default.
I also have a Bootcamp partition with Win XP Pro installed I use when I need the best performance. Another tool that has been very handy is Winclone. It can backup the Bootcamp NTFS partition. It has tools for changing the size of the Mac and Bootcamp partitions.
Some users could run Rhino succesfully with an Intel Mac Pro and Apple Boot Camp Beta. See this thread for more information:
A short review
Rhino 3.0 is listed, but as untested.
Rhino 4.0 is not listed in their compatibility database .
Heath Satow wrote:
Got the Mac Pro with two dual-core Xeons running at 2.66ghz, 2gb memory today.
Running bootcamp was easy. Have hit a couple little odd quirks that I hope get straightened out over time, but nothing to kill the deal yet. (UPDATE: All the minor quirks have been easily ironed out except getting the internal bluetooth to work all the time, though apple seems to be aware of this and is working on it. At this point, the machine is even less quirky than my WinXP laptop that was built to run windows.)
Rhino is running fine (running in XP Pro on the Mac). There was a flamingo render speed test a while back, with a test file posted. On my 3ghz (Windows) laptop, the file took 43 seconds. I saw a few posts from really screaming machines that ran the render as low as 11 seconds.
This machine (Mac Pro) just ran that render in 7 seconds. Thought it was a fluke… tried it over and over… 7 seconds every single time.
I must say that I am quite pleased.
- –Heath Satow, http://www.publicsculpture.com
Dennis Peterson wrote:
I was trying to see if I could run it [Rhino 3.0] on my MACBOOK Pro laptop in a Windows XP virtual machine. It installs and runs fine.
I bumped into John Brock from your Seattle office while on a trip to California some days ago and he was able to show me a number of features and capabilities I did not find in the tutorial.
Even without a multi-button mouse I was able to create and modify 3-D models easily. I later plugged in a real mouse and that too worked perfectly.
Thank you and thank Mr. Brock for his help in evaluating this tool.
The excerpt below does not consider Rhino, but does have some interesting observations about performance. It is from the article “Weighing a Switch to a Mac” by Thomas J. Fitzgerald in the New York Times August 10, 2006:
“Two methods for running Windows on the new Macs have moved to the forefront, and both run considerably faster than Virtual PC, the leading option under the old Mac Architecture.
The first, a new program called Parallels Desktop for Mac ($80; www.parallels.com), enables you to run Windows and Mac OS X Tiger simultaneously.
For example, you can run Windows software like Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook in a window that can be minimized just like other Mac programs. Data can be copied between the platforms, you can share files and folders between them and you can choose to run Windows in a full-screen mode.
Parallels can run Windows versions as old as Windows 3.1 and through the current editions of XP. You will need to provide your own Windows installation software. A drawback of Parallels is that it does not support 3-D-accelerated graphics, which means some higher-end 3-D games and other programs run slowly or not well. Other factors to consider are a speed
reduction of 5 to 15 percent compared with running Windows natively on Intel-based computers, the company says, and the fact that not all peripheral devices are compatible.
The other option for running Windows on the new Macs is made possible by Boot Camp (www.apple.com/bootcamp), a free utility from Apple now available in beta testing. (Apple announced this week that Boot Camp would be part of its next operating-system release, called Leopard, scheduled for next spring.) Unlike Parallels, which runs Windows within Mac OS X, Boot Camp creates a partition on the computer?s hard disk and installs Windows to it. When the computer starts up, you can choose to run either Windows or Mac OS X.
Benefits of Boot Camp include running Windows at full speed; it runs natively on the Mac, as it would on a conventional Windows-based PC, fully using the processor and graphics abilities, and providing compatibility with hardware peripherals and devices designed for PC?s.
A drawback of Boot Camp, though, is that you must shut down one operating system before using the other. This means you cannot run Windows and Mac applications simultaneously. Another drawback is that it can run only two versions of Windows: Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 2, which costs $200, or Windows XP Professional With Service Pack 2, which is $300.
Security is another aspect of Macs that has Windows users curious. In Windows, antivirus and antispyware programs have become essential for defending against a variety of threats. So far, the Mac OS X operating system has not been filtrated by viruses, and it remains free from the type of spyware threats that spread in the wild and go after Windows users, according to Symantec, maker of Norton Antivirus.
But when Windows is run on Intel-based Macs, for example through Boot Camp or Parallels, it is vulnerable to the same virus and spyware threats that can affect conventional Windows-based PC's.”
one tip to get the num lock to work you must use the key combination “shift clear” if you dont have a num lock button on yor mac keyboard
With the new version of parallels you have the coherence mode (both OSX and Windows on the screen at once) have a look
See the extensive review of the new Parallels in AECBytes by Scott Onstott here
Hi I am Running Rhino 3.0 with Windows XP home, through bootcamp on my MACBOOK Pro. I cannot delete anything using the keyboard, only by selecting the object and going through the edit menu to delete. If anyone has encountered any keyboard issues similar to this and has feed back that would be a huge help. thank you.
hi khamiltonG… mark tho object to be deleted, press “d” and space. works fine!!!
Another suggestion: Make a toolbar button that runs the Delete command in Rhino. The content could be (as above) just D (because that autocompletes to Delete). There are instructions for customizing the toolbars in the Help file.
The delete button is hidden on the MACBOOK Pro. The button that has <delete> written on it is actually the <backspace> button. To press delete on a MACBOOK Pro, you must hit <fn> and <delete> simultaneously.
When I have to delete an object in Rhino, i simply use <ctrl>and<x>. This works as well and you need only one hand for it.
Right-Mouse click on Mac laptops running Parallels - By MP
& Enabling Shift Key Ortho toggle in Parallels
Mac laptops do not have a right mouse button. Rhino loves the right mouse button. Do yourself a big favor and get a wireless two or three button mouse if you are using Rhino on a Mac laptop.
If you are using Parallels, it has a preference setting that helps users emulate a right mouse click. If you hold down the Control key and click the (only) mouse button, Parallels will translate that into a right mouse click. But this interferes with Rhino's Control-click to deselect objects.
You can turn off this translation in Parallels to get Control-click back. Open up the Parallels Preferences and select the Keyboard tab. In the Right Mouse Click: setting, select BOTH Ctrl and Command, and click OK. This makes an emulated right-click difficult to perform and essentially disables Parallels emulated right-click behavior. Now you can Control-click and even Shift-Control-click in Rhino without problems. If you turn off the emulated right-click behavior, you better have a mouse with a real right mouse button!
This is the symptom of the user running Rhino 4 on an IMac with BootCamp drivers that are too new.
See http://ati.amd.com/support/drivers/mac/bootcamp-xp.html for the correct drivers.
Note: 20“ iMac mid-2007 will not run Rhino with BootCamp display driver installed (ATI driver v. 8.390.0.0) & drivers in link above will not install on newest iMac's. Workaround is to disable the ATI driver & system will revert to built-in VGA driver - poor display performance but Rhino runs.