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A.7.1 Command-Line Options and Environment Variables

Typical command-line options for Mathematica executables.

If the Mathematica front end is called with a notebook file as a command-line argument, then this notebook will be made the initial selected notebook. Otherwise, a new notebook will be created for this purpose.
Mathematica kernels and front ends can also take additional command-line options specific to particular window environments.

Environment variables.

If no command-line options are explicitly given, Mathematica will read the values of operating system environment variables, and will use these values like command lines.