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Troubleshooting UI Issues in OpticStudio

This article explains what to do if you install OpticStudio and experience a slow user interface. There are a number of preferences and settings that can be changed to help speed up the UI. If you are experiencing other installation problems, please see the Troublshooting your OpticStudio Installation Knowledge Base Article.

This article will walk you through the following troubleshooting steps:
  • Checking for graphics driver updates from the manufacturer
  • Changing your Project Preferences
  • Checking your Non-Sequential Settings
  • Getting help from Zemax 
Alissa Wilczynski & Alison Yates
Installation and Troubleshooting
Frequently Asked Questions
Hardware Key
First Time Users

If you are experiencing a slow UI, there are a number of factors that have a direct impact on the speed of the user interface in OpticStudio. 

Unlike older versions of Zemax (13 and earlier) with a more static UI which allowed users to open 100 analyses at a time, the modern OpticStudio interface operates similarly to many of the current CAD programs. The UI is responsive and dynamic and the plotting tools, editors, and shaded model layouts are modern and interactive. This allows the ability to reorder rows in the editors, tailor plots to only plot the data you’re interested in, and visualize complex analyses in 3D while supporting rotation and zoom of the data set. All of this means that as you increase the complexity of a system, the program will be required to use more memory to store that system and will take a longer time to update. 

If you experience a UI that seems slow, there are a number of settings that can be changed that may help you see increased speed inside OpticStudio. However, these should not replace best practices in design, like keeping the number of layout rays for visualization low, removing duplicate analyses, and removing unnecessary surfaces/objects. 

System Requirements

First, check that your system meets the minimum system requirements and that your graphics driver is up to date. Most graphics card manufacturers offer self-diagnosing tools and updates. Please see NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel, depending on your manufacturer. Windows often will not find the latest update through the Device Manager even though the manufacturer may have released many updates. 

Project Preferences

Open the Project Preferences by going to the Setup Tab, then select the Editors settings. 

The default setting in OpticStudio for the AutoUpdate setting is "Update All." This means that any time you make a change to your system, all windows, analyses, and layouts will recalculate and redraw. If you have a complex file or many analyses or windows open, this can put a lot of demands on computer resources. Try changing this setting to “Update” or “None”. "Update" will update only the current analysis or layout in which you are working, and "None" will require you to manually update by clicking the refresh button on the analysis or layout.

Additionally, try changing your Undo settings from "Disk Multi Step" to "None" or "Memory 1 Step." "Disk Multi Step" makes a copy of your system and stores it in memory every time you make a change. If you are working on a complicated system, this can take a lot of resources. "Memory 1 Step" instead stores the last version of your file, so you can always go back one step.

Now select the Folders Settings and ensure that your folders are pointing to your local machine under Folders in Project Preferences. Folders that are on a network drive or synced on the cloud can dramatically slow down the UI. If your folders are not local and you'd like assistance in changing them, please take a screenshot and send it to

Now select the General settings and see if the "Auto Apply" default is checked. This is a global switch for how each analysis will update when you change its settings. If you have a complex file or many analyses or windows open, it can take a long time to update them every time you change a setting. Try unchecking Auto Apply.

Under the Graphics Settings, you will find many options for how graphics and louts behave. Depending on your graphics card or operating system, you may see a benefit from disabling DirectX 11. 

Non-Sequential Settings

When working in NSC, decrease the settings in yellow or increase the settings in orange from within the System Explorer > Non Sequential tab. These settings can cause the rays in memory to increase exponentially, and most often do not need to be changed from the defaults. You can read more about these settings and some important considerations regarding them in the Help Files under The Setup Tab>System Group>System Explorer>Non-sequential – or just click the question mark icon in the System Explorer. 

Getting Additional Help

If none of these settings improves the issues with the speed you are experiencing, please go to the Help Tab and run the System Diagnostic. Please save the log file and send it, along with a screen shot, to