Online End User Manual

Jump to a section

1.      Sign in to your OpticStudio Online account
         a.      Browser Options
​         b.      OpticStudio in an iOS App
2.      Start a session
​         a.      Get started with OpticStudio
​         b.      Contact Zemax Technical Support
3.      Navigate your session
​         a.      Server specifications
​         b.      Session performance
4.      Save files
5.      Upload files
6.      Stay connected
​         a.      Disconnect and resume
​         b.      Idle time
​         c.       Maximum session time
​         d.      Resume your session
​         e.      Oops, I closed my browser!
7.      End your session
8.      Session features
​         a.      Share your session
​         b.      Print from your session
​         c.       Copy/paste from your session
9.      Account information
​         a.      License and support
​         b.      Change your password
10.    Additional Resources
         Links to other reference material for OpticStudio Online


1. Sign in to your OpticStudio Online account

Zemax will provide you with a link to log into your OpticStudio Online account. This link will depend on the OpticStudio Online server closest to you. For example, is the link to log into the OpticStudio Online accounts in the United States.

Your account login page includes a link to either the Online Trial Services Agreement or the Online Subscription Services Agreement​ in the footer.  Signing in on this page acknowledges that you have reviewed and accepted this Service Agreement.

After logging in, you will be brought to OpticStudio Online Launchpad.

This is where you'll see all the applications installed on your account:
  • Two instances of OpticStudio (so you can have two files open at the same time)
    • OpticStudio Instance 1
    • OpticStudio Instance 2
  • Frame Explorer (for navigating your online storage drive and OpticStudio files)
  • Python (for using OpticStudio’s programming capabilities)
  • Notepad

Browser Options

While OpticStudio Online can run on virtually any combination of browser, OS, and device, some perform better than others. Here is an overview of the supported browsers and the associated performance:
  • Chrome: when possible, we use hardware acceleration called PNaCL (this is Google's proprietary technology). Expected decode time per frame on a mid-range PC, Mac, or Chromebook is <10 ms. On a faster machine (e.g., high-end PC or MacBook Pro), the decoding time per frame can drop to < 2ms. When PNaCL is not available (e.g., on AndroidOS), we fall back to pure JavaScript decoding, which is still very fast in Chrome.
  • Firefox: OpticStudio Online takes advantage of Firefox's support for asm.js, an optimizable, low-level subset of JavaScript. Video decode times per frame are in the 5-10 ms range on most modern desktop/laptop platforms (PCs, Macs). Decoding performance is great on a large range of devices -- most computers sold in the last 5-6 years should have no problem running applications on Frame with great performance.
  • Safari: While there's no equivalent of Google's PNaCL or Firefox's asm.js, Apple's javascript engine is very fast. Expected video decoding time is <10ms on a MacBook Air and < 5ms on MacBook Pro.
  • Internet Explorer 11 and Edge: Native JavaScript performance in Internet Explorer 11 and Edge is OK, but lags other mainstream browsers, especially on underpowered devices. If you see video decode times in excess of 100 ms per frame, we automatically adjust the frame rate, which might be reported as an increased network latency as well (as some frames are dropped during the adjustment).

OpticStudio in an iOS App

OpticStudio Online is powered by Frame, and Frame has an iOS app, which is another way that you can log into your account if you’re using an iPad or iPhone. Just search for "Frame Terminal" in the Apple App Store. This app has additional features to improve your experience when using touch features on an iPad or iPhone.


2. Start a session

To start a session, click on one of the two OpticStudio icons. If the system status indicator is a yellow dot, your instance will need to first power on, which takes about 3 minutes. You'll see a spinner and a message next to the status indicator while it powers up, and you'll be connected to your session automatically when it's ready.


If the status indicator is green, OpticStudio will automatically launch within seconds, running in your own session.

If the status indicator is red, please contact support.

For more information on the status indicator, you can simply click on the indicator, and you'll see a description of each state per below:


The first time OpticStudio opens on your account, you’ll see the following notification:


This is because OpticStudio needs to copy the default files (catalogs, sample files, etc.) to your personal storage drive, called the P-drive. Note that Zemax does not have access to this drive, or any files that you store on your P-drive. These OpticStudio files will only need to be copied over the first time you run OpticStudio, or when a new version with updated default files is released.

Once the files are copied to your P-drive, OpticStudio will open, and you’ll see the Startup Defaults screen:

If you know that you’ll be designing imaging systems, like cameras and telescopes, then we recommend that you choose Imaging/Afocal Systems. If you’ll be designing illumination systems, like headlamps or backlighting, then we recommend that you choose Illumination Systems.

Click OK, and you can begin working in OpticStudio. 

Get started with OpticStudio

If you’re new to OpticStudio, the best place to start is with the tutorials in the Getting Started Guide. To open this guide, go to the Help tab, and select Getting Started Using OpticStudio.

In the navigation panel on the left, expand the Tutorials section, and you'll see nine different step-by-step tutorials:


These tutorials include several examples of how to use OpticStudio. We strongly recommend that new OpticStudio users take the time to work through them. Once you’ve completed the tutorials, here are some other resources with more information about OpticStudio:

  • The OpticStudio Knowledgebase. This is an indispensable resource for OpticStudio users, and contains hundreds of articles including topic-specific tutorials, answers to frequently-asked questions, and examples. It is structured into categories, and has a powerful search engine to help you find articles of interest easily.
  • The Help Files are accessed by clicking the Help “?” buttons in the user interface.  Each Help icon is linked to a section of the Help Files with a description of that analysis or tool. 
  • The OpticStudio sample files. These sample files demonstrate how to set up different types of optical systems and can be accessed through the File tab > Open. Browse to P:\Zemax\Samples. 
  • OpticStudio training courses will help you expand your optical and illumination design capabilities whether you are a new or well-established optics professional. Training courses are conducted by our exceptional team of Optical Engineers, with years of experience designing real-world optical systems.​

Contact Zemax Technical Support

Your OpticStudio Online subscription comes with technical support. OpticStudio has a global technical support team of optical engineers, available 24 hours per day, Monday-Friday. If you have a question about OpticStudio, you can email technical support, or schedule a call on our website.

When contacting support, please include the following information:
  • Your full name and email address.
  • Your OpticStudio license serial number. To find your license number, go to the OpticStudio Help tab > About. Your license serial number is listed in the third line.
  • If you have a question about a specific file, we highly recommend that you email the file to us for investigation. To do this, go to the OpticStudio File tab > Create Archive. Then, open the Frame Explorer, and move the ZAR archive file that you just saved to your Download Now folder. The archive file will be downloaded to your local machine, and can be attached in an email. 

3. Navigate your session

Once you're in your session, you’ll see a status bar at the bottom of the window. You can hover over the icons and/or click them for more info (or check out the Frame interactive session guide here).

The gear icon at the lower left brings up a menu with a variety of options, including:
  • Launch and switch between other applications (OpticStudio, Python, Notepad, etc.)
  • Send feedback to Zemax
  • Share your session with someone else
  • Report a problem to Frame
  • Change the resolution
  • Learn about the type and location of the system you're on by clicking About
  • Disconnect from the session to resume later
  • Wrap up your session and Power off
The dots after the gear icon indicate the network bandwidth:
  • 1 red dot: less than 1Mbps
  • 2 red dots: 1 - 2 Mbps
  • 3 yellow dots: 2 - 4 Mbps
  • 4 green dots: 4 - 8 Mbps
  • 5 green dots: more than 8 Mbps
The other icons allow you to:
  • Check the network latency
  • See the approximate distance to the datacenter
  • See the degree of local scaling applied (usually at 100% = no local scaling)
  • See the session time elapsed and total allowed session time
  • See if Chrome Native Client is enabled (Chrome browsers only) with NaCl indicator
  • Upload a file to the session. (This is not needed for using OpticStudio, because OpticStudio allows you to browse directly to your storage drive. Also, files that are uploaded to the server are not saved between sessions, and so any files you wish to save should be saved to your P-drive.)
  • Copy/paste text from/to the local machine
  • Connect to Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box
  • Go full screen

In addition to clicking on the icons in the status bar, you can also double-click on a blank area of the status bar to toggle between a full-sized window view and a small window view. This lets you access the Launchpad while OpticStudio is open, so you view another instance of OpticStudio, or open another application from the Launchpad. To return to the full-sized window, double click on an open part of the status bar at the bottom of the window.

Server specifications

When you start a session by launching an application, that application is started on a server online and is delivered to your browser in an optimized video stream. Because OpticStudio Online is run through a browser, the only system requirement for customers is an HTML5-capable browser, like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer 11. There are no hardware requirements for customers to run OpticStudio Online, because Zemax provides the hardware for you. Each server running OpticStudio Online has:

  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 4 Core CPU with hyperthreading (making 8 cores)
  • Solid-state drive 
  • Dedicated NVIDIA GPU
  • 10 GB personal storage (P:)

Session performance

To see how fast your session is performing, you can turn on your session statistics. In your session, go to the gear menu (lower left corner) and click Show/hide stats:

You'll now see the real-time bitrate and frames per second in the status bar at the bottom of your screen:

You can click on these session stats to open a more detailed set of statistics:

The most important factor affecting your experience is called video decode time. It tells you how fast your local device can decode incoming frames from the server. For the best performance, this number should be well below 50 ms, and, in many cases, it will be below 10 ms (on most modern browser/device combos).

4. Save files

Files will only be retained between sessions if they are saved to your Personal Storage (P:) drive or downloaded from your session using the Download Now folder.

The Personal Storage (P:) drive is your own online storage drive, which can only be accessed through your personal OpticStudio Online account. The default size is 10 GB. If you go to the OpticStudio File tab and click Save or Save As, this is the default location where your files will be saved.

The Download Now folder allows you to download files from your OpticStudio Online session to your local computer storage. Copying or moving files to the Download Now folder will download the file to your browser's local download location (typically this is C:\Users\username\Downloads).

The best way to download OpticStudio files from your session is with a ZAR archive file. To do this, go to the OpticStudio File tab > Create Archive. Then, open the Frame Explorer, and drag the ZAR file to the Download Now folder, or use the copy/paste buttons in the toolbar: 

5. Upload files

To upload a file, you first need to start a session by opening an application from your Launchpad. Then, click the upload icon at the bottom of the screen:

The following pop-up explains what to do next:


Clicking the arrow icon will bring up your local computer's file system, where you can browse to the file(s) to be uploaded.

Alternatively, once you’ve started a session, you can drag and drop files onto the session in your browser. Once you’ve dragged a file over your browser, you’ll see this screen:


As the file uploads, you'll see a progress indicator in the status bar:

Then, you’ll find the file(s) in the Uploads folder of your OpticStudio Online session. 


Now, you can access it in any of the applications on the Launchpad. For example, open the Frame Explorer, and navigate to the Uploads folder in the Favorites section.

The Uploads folder is temporary storage, and so any information saved in this location will NOT be retained after your session. Any files that you want to save must be moved to your personal online storage drive.

6. Stay connected

There is a 30-minute user inactivity timer which starts when your OpticStudio session does not detect any mouse or keyboard movement. Once this timer runs out, your session will be disconnected. Disconnecting is like detaching the monitor from your PC. All active applications will keep running after you disconnect. 

Disconnecting does not mean that your system is powering off. This is an important distinction, because your OpticStudio Online session does not save any data once your session is powered off. For example, if you step away from your desk for 30 minutes, your session will automatically be disconnected, but not powered off.

Disconnect and resume

Disconnecting allows you to pause your session and resume where you left off. You can even disconnect from one device and resume your session from another device. For example, you could disconnect your work PC and resume from your iPad.
To disconnect from your session, select the Gear icon in the lower left corner, and then select Disconnect:
Then, you'll see this prompt:

Clicking DISCONNECT will immediately return you to the Launchpad, but your session will keep running for the duration of the idle time, or until OpticStudio completes it calculation. Please see the next section of an explanation of idle time.

Idle time

When you disconnect, if OpticStudio is not running any calculations, your session will remain active in the background for the duration of the idle time. By default, the idle time is 10 minutes. Once you’ve disconnected, you can see the exact time remaining in your session next to the status indicator in your Launchpad.

After the 10 minutes of idle time, if OpticStudio is not running any calculations (i.e. updating an analysis or running an optimization), then your session will power off. OpticStudio will automatically save your files just before your session powers off, and these files will be stored in the Autosave folder on the drive that you connected.

After the 10 minutes of idle time, if OpticStudio is still running a calculation, then your session will stay active and the idle timer will restart. This process will continue until OpticStudio finishes calculating, or until you reach the maximum session time. Please see the next section for an explanation of the maximum session time.

Maximum session time

When you’ve reached the maximum session time, whether this is after the idle time or not, your session will power off. The maximum session time is 16 hours. (In the 2-week trial version, the maximum session time is limited to 6 hours).

To be safe, always save your work to your online storage drive before disconnecting, and note the time elapsed at the bottom of your session.

Resume your session

From the Launchpad, you'll see Resume or Power off links to the left of your status indicator. Simply click on Resume, and you'll be back in your session.
You can also get back into your session by clicking on any of the app icons in the Launchpad.

Be sure you save before powering off!

If you choose to click Power off from your Launchpad, your session will be powered off, and any unsaved files will be lost. Make sure you saved your work to your online storage account before powering off.

Oops, I closed my browser!

If you close your browser, close the session's tab, modify the web address, or close OpticStudio by clicking on the "X" in the upper right corner, then the session will be treated as if you manually disconnected. While the OpticStudio will no longer be running on the screen, a session will remain reserved for your use for the duration of the idle timeout setting (again, the default is 10 minutes). Your session will not be powered off until the maximum session time is reached, or until you choose to manually power off.

To get back to your session, just browse back to the login link that was provided by Zemax. For example, is the link to log into the OpticStudio Online accounts in the United States. This will return you to your Launchpad where you can resume your session, as explained in the previous section.

7. End your session

When you’re finished working, you can power off your session.

First, save all your work to your online storage drive. Then select the gear icon in the lower left corner of your session, and select Power off.
Then, you'll see this prompt:
Clicking POWER OFF will immediately close running applications and terminate your instance. If you want to keep your session active and pick up where you left off later, refer to the section titled "Disconnect and resume."

You should always save your work to your online storage drive before powering off. If you only save files to the local drive of the instance (e.g., C: drive), those files won't be there the next time you log in. Nothing is stored locally, so you must save everything to your online storage account.

When you're finished with your work, don't forget to sign out of your OpticStudio Online account, especially if you're on a public computer. Simply go to the menu at the top right corner of the Launchpad and click on Sign out.

8. Sessions features

The following features are for sharing your OpticStudio Online session, printing from your session, and copy/pasting from your session.

Share your session

The session sharing feature is a great way to collaborate with colleagues, whether they are nearby or in another city. With this feature, you can launch an application, then select Share session from the session settings menu (gear icon):

You'll see a pop-up window with a URL, like below, which you can copy and send to colleagues. When they click on the link, they'll join your session, and both of you can move the mouse, type text, and fully interact with the session simultaneously.


You can add multiple users to a session in this way, but the performance of the session will be set to accommodate the user with the poorest network connection.

Session sharing is NOT compatible across all browser combinations. Currently, this feature only supports connections between Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers on Macs and PCs. Android, iPad and Chromebook session sharing is currently not supported. If you are using Internet Explorer 11 or Edge, then you cannot share sessions with other users running on the browsers listed above. You can share sessions, however, with other IE or Edge users.

Print from your session

You can print documents from your OpticStudio Online session through a virtual printer. To print from OpticStudio, click the Print icon in any of the analysis windows, and select the Virtual Printer.

When you click Print, the virtual printer will then automatically create a .PDF file and prepare to download it to your browser's download folder. You'll see a notice at the bottom of your screen and a printer icon will show up as below:


Click on the icon and the file will download to your browser's download folder, where you can open it and print it to a local or network printer that is connected to your device. The file name will have a date/time code and unique number as the file name, with .pdf as the extension, as shown below:

Copy/paste from your session

You can copy and paste from your OpticStudio Online session to your local computer using the clipboard feature. When you copy text in OpticStudio Online, you’ll see the following notification in the status bar:


Clicking on the clipboard icon opens a dialog which allows you to copy text from your session, to your local computer.

9. Account information

License and support

OpticStudio Online is licensed as an annual subscription service which includes access to technical support and your personal storage drive (P:).

Your OpticStudio Online license serial number is listed in the top menu bar of the OpticStudio UI. The expiration date for your OpticStudio Online subscription is in the OpticStudio Help tab > About dialog. To continue using OpticStudio Online, technical support, and your personal storage drive (P:), you must renew your subscription before the expiration date. 

If your support expires, you will not have access to OpticStudio Online or to the technical support team. In addition, your personal storage drive (P:) will be cleared. To prevent any data loss, make sure you renew your OpticStudio Online license subscription before it expires. 

Change your password

At the top right of your Launchpad, you will see the name of your account and a small arrow to the right of it. Click the arrow and then select Account.

On the account page, you'll see information about your account type, and at the bottom of the page you can change the name (first
and last name) on your account, or change the password.


10. Additional Resources

OpticStudio Online References
Links to all support, pricing, and related information for the Online Edition

OpticStudio Online Quick Start Guide
Activating, logging in and basic navigation 

OpticStudio Online FAQ
Covers questions about lesser-used features and items not in any of the other guides