Multiple Houdini Instances

Multiple Houdini Instances on OS X

If you’re a Cinema 4D user, one overlooked feature is its ability to quickly copy and paste objects between several open documents or scenes. Believe me, it’s gold. When you’re designing and ideas are flowing, the last thing you want is having to shut down and reopen applications. You can sort of do the same in Houdini. On Linux and Windows, you just open multiple instances of Houdini by using the icon1. However, on OS X, it’s not the case. It may not be as sexy but here is how to open multiple Houdini instances on OS X and have several scenes open.

Our Command Line Friend

In order to run multiple Houdini instances, you need to use a Terminal or Shell. Yes, I know… But it’s just one word or command. It’s not a big deal. I promise. Once you have several copies of Houdini open, you can copy and paste nodes between scenes.

Depending on whether you are running Houdini indie or Houdini Apprentice, you will need to use the correct command. If you have Houdini Indie, then you will need to type in the following command to open up another instance of Houdini Indie.


If you are on Apprentice or the learning edition, you will simply type in the following:


Very simple. A word of warning. If you are on Indie and you type in houdini, you will open an Apprentice version of Houdini. So you will have an Indie instance and an Apprentice instance of Houdini running. The implications being that you will encounter issues pasting objects between limited commercial and non-commercial editions of Houdini.

Houdini version mismatch.
Houdini version mismatch.

I assume most folks will be running either Indie or Apprentice. I’m on an Indie version of Houdini but I would guess that if you’re running a full commercial license, you would use houdinifx to open up the right edition. If I run houdinifx on my machine, it just opens the Apprentice version.

Environment Variable?

In the Houdini docs, Side Effects says you need to set the SESI_COPY_SUFFIX environment variable to be able to copy and paste across multiple Houdini instances. However, I did not set this variable and everything seems to be working fine. A quick search didn’t even reveal whether the variable was set or not. Deprecated maybe? Not sure. If I come across more info or if you know a bit more of about this please Tweet me.


  1. Thanks to @andy23, @JonathanGranskg, and @varomix for indicating that on Windows and Linux there is no need to use a Shell window to open up other instances of Houdini.


I am a motion designer & developer based out of South Florida. When not designing or animating pixels, I wrangle some code. If all else fails, I watch Twilight Zone, I Love Lucy, or Three's Company reruns.