VMWare Horizon

McCormick's Virtual Computer Lab (powered by VMWare Horizon) is available for academic use anywhere there is an internet connection and provides remote access to key engineering software using a full Windows desktop environment from your personal device. The Virtual Computer Lab is available 24/7 and enables access to the most commonly used software applications required in McCormick classes.

This is an on-campus service.  To access the virtual computer lab from off-campus, you will need to use the GlobalProtect VPN. Please visit the Northwestern IT Knowledge Base for VPN set-up and use instructions.

For the best experience, use a computer with a keyboard and the VMWare Horizon desktop client, though HTML access is also available.

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Options for accessing the virtual computer lab are at:

Desktop Client Access (recommended)

Download the VMWare Horizon client appropriate for your device. High level instructions are below for Windows and MacOS, though clients are also available for Linux, iOS and Android.


  1. Review the minimum system requirements for Windows clients.
  2. Download and install VMWare Horizon Client for Windows.
  3. When the installation finishes, you may be asked to restart your machine.
  4. After the installation, launch the VMWare Horizon Client desktop app by double-clicking its desktop shortcut icon or by going to the Windows Start Menu and choosing VMware | Horizon Client.
  5. Select Add Server and enter as the Connection Server name.
  6. Go to Settings > Security and change the certificate checking mode to "Thumbprint or PKI Verification".

Mac OS

  1. Review the minimum system requirements for Mac clients.
  2. Download and install VMWare Horizon Client for macOS.
  3. When the installation finishes, you may be asked to reboot your machine and may need to grant access to the VMWare Horizon client to receive keystrokes in System Preferences.
  4. After the installation, go to your Applications folder and launch VMWare Horizon Client.
  5. Select Add Server and enter as the Connection Server name.
  6. Go to the VMWare Horizon Client Preferences > Security and select the certificate checking mode to "Do not verify server identity certificates".

HTML Access

Browser access is available, though should be used specifically on devices where the client is not compatible or not working properly.

Review the minimum system requirements for HTML Access.


Troubleshooting Tips/span>

Desktop Client Install Failed

  • Run the installer with Administrative rights: Right click on the installer and click Run as Administrator
  • Install without HTML5 Multimedia Redirection support: Uncheck the option Install Support for HTML5 Multimedia Redirection and Browser Redirection, then click Install
  • Install the latest .NET Framework: Go to the Microsoft .NET Framework download page. Click on the latest version. Click on Download .NET Framework under Runtime. Your browser will download a small installer file. Run the installer. Follow the instructions of the installer
  • Install the latest Visual C++ Redistributables: Go to the Visual C++ Redistributables download page. Scroll to Visual Studio 2015, 2017 and 2019 and download both x86 and x64Run the installers. If the installer states that there are newer version of Visual C++ Redistributables installed, go to the Control Panel and uninstall the latest version and run the installer again
  • Disable antivirus protection TEMPORARILY: Open the taskbar tray and right click on your antivirus software. The tray is located at the bottom right of your desktop. Depending on your antivirus software, you will see different options. You need to look for “Dashboard”, “Temporarily Disable Active Protection”, “Exit” or similar keywords. You need to find a way to either temporarily disable Active Protection feature or exit the antivirus software completely (not minimize back to tray). Once the antivirus software is disabled, run the installer. Regardless of the outcome, please re-enable the antivirus

Client Not Loading or Loading Slowly

  • Check your internet connection and speed: Your connection must be stable and fast enough to support your use of Northwestern online resources. Typically, 10-20 Mbps upload and download speeds will support typical work activities, though other devices on your network will impact your speed (such as streaming or online gaming). To test your connection, go to and click GO
  • Review the size of the app: If using a tablet or mobile phone, check your respective app store to see how big the installation file is and how long it may take to load

  • Run the latest version of the app: Go to the ellipses in the top right hand corner of the app and click on Software Updates
  • Restart your device or the app: Doing so will reload all settings and functions and, if necessary, re-establish connections to the App Store

Certificate Errors

  • Check your certificate checking mode: In the client, go to Settings > Security and ensure the mode is set to "Thumbprint or PKI Verification" on a Windows or Preferences > Security and ensure the mode is set to "Do not verify server identity certificates" on a Mac
NOTE: For any additional issues, contact Assistance with personally-owned devices will be provided on a best effort basis and during normal business hours.

Save Your Work

Be sure to save frequently to cloud storage using your virtual desktop’s web browser or your connected device. Links to Northwestern’s cloud storage options include

You will not be connected to the same desktop each time you log in and each desktop is refreshed upon session termination.

Before you close the app, go to the location on your computer where you saved the file, make sure it is there, and that you can launch it.

Exiting The Virtual Desktop

Shut down to exit the remote desktop to enable others to access the environment, as there is a limit to the number of users who can be logged in at the same time.

From the Windows Start menu select Power > Shut Down

After 20 minutes of inactivity, you will be automatically logged off. Any open applications will be closed and your work will not be automatically saved.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What applications are available in the virtual computer lab?

    Available software includes:

    • Abaqus
    • Adobe*
    • Ansys*
    • AspenOne (HYSYS)
    • AutoCad*
    • CrystalMaker
    • Keyshot
    • MatLab
    • NX
    • SolidWorks
    • ThermoCalc
    • Visio

      *Select components

      Where possible, based on available licensing and operating system compatibility, users are encouraged to direct download software on their personal devices for optimal performance.
  • I can’t log into the VDI, what could be wrong?

    • Make sure you are connecting with the latest client and connection server name:
    • Error: Timeout was Reached: If you are connecting from off campus, ensure you are on the GlobalProtect VPN
    • Unknown user name or bad password or You are not authorized to use this: Your username is just your Northwestern NetID. Ensure you typed in your NetID password correctly (you will be locked out of the environment after a number of failed login attempts). All McCormick students should have access to the virtual computer lab. If you are not a McCormick student but are registered in a McCormick class or belong to a McCormick-sponsored club / student group, contact with proof of registration in order to be added to the permissions list
    • Connect desktop failed or The display protocol for this desktop is currently busy processing a request or Unable to allocate a desktop - pool refresh is in progress: Close your connection, wait a few minutes, and restart the VMWare View client or reconnect through the HTML access
    • The desktop source for this desktop are not responding. Please try connecting to this desktop again later, or contact your system administrator or Unable to Allocate Desktop, No Desktops Available. All desktops in pool are currently in use: The virtual computer desktop pool for the number of concurrent users may have reached its limit. Close your connection and try again in a few minutes
    • The Connection Server Authentication failed. The tunnel server presented a certificate that didn't match the expected certificate. Ensure the security settings in the client are set to allow "Thumbprint or PKI Verification"
    • Check that your connection has not timed out. Users will be logged out after 20 minutes of inactivity, so save frequently
    • Check that you aren’t trying to access the virtual computer lab during a scheduled/ emergency maintenance window. Weekly updates will occur on or after 11:00 am on Saturdays; Quarterly updates will be scheduled around academic breaks

  • Can I print while logged into the virtual computer lab?

    • The virtual computer lab desktops are not currently integrated with NUPrint. However, you can print to a local printer from your virtual desktop

  • Can I access my Northwestern email on a virtual desktop?

    • You can access your Northwestern email via a web browser on your virtual computer lab desktop on webmail

  • How do I save and access files on my local machine?

    • Files saved to the Desktop or in This PC on a virtual computer lab desktop do not persist across sessions. You should save your files to a cloud storage solution like OneDrive or Google Drive via a web browser or using a USB drive

  • How do I adjust display settings in the VMWare Horizon Client desktop application?

    • Application windows launched through the VMware Horizon Client can be resized just like application windows on your local computer. The screen can be resized by dragging a corner of the remote desktop window to the desired size. If you encounter issues with resolution or scaling check the display settings on your local computer
  • Can I use the Virtual Computer Lab for research?

    • No. The software available in the virtual computer lab is licensed for academic use only