This is documentation for Mathematica 3, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.1)
 Documentation / Mathematica / Getting Started / System Information / Macintosh / Starting Out  /

Starting Mathematica

Once you have personalized your copy of Mathematica, you are ready to start running Mathematica.

From CD-ROM:

1. Double-click the Mathematica icon on the CD.

From hard drive:

1. Double-click the Mathematica icon inside the Mathematica folder.

2. Here is your screen after startup.

On the left is a new notebook.
On the right is a palette for entering special input.

3. Type 2+2 and then press (hold down the Shift key and press Return) to tell Mathematica to evaluate your input.

Labels are added automatically.
Output is placed below the input.

Note: Your first calculation will take longer than subsequent calculations because the Mathematica kernel has to start up.

Mathematica is made of two parts: a kernel and a front end. The kernel is the part that does calculations. The front end is the part that handles notebooks and interaction with the user.


  • See Using Palettes for how to use palettes.
  • On most keyboards you can press instead of to tell Mathematica to evaluate your input. Pressing by itself gives you a new line in the same cell.
  • See Memory Management if your machine has limited memory.
  • You can interact directly with the kernel using a text-based interface.
  • The front end and the kernel will be listed in the Application menu as Mathematica 3.0 and MathKernel, respectively.