This is documentation for Mathematica 4, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)
Wolfram Research, Inc.

IntroductionText-Based Interfaces

1.0.1 Notebook Interfaces

Running Mathematica with a notebook interface.

On most computer systems, Mathematica supports a "notebook" interface in which you interact with Mathematica by creating interactive documents.

If you use your computer via a purely graphical interface, you will typically double-click the Mathematica icon to start Mathematica. If you use your computer via a textually based operating system, you will typically type the command mathematica to start Mathematica.

When Mathematica starts up, it usually gives you a blank notebook. You enter Mathematica input into the notebook, then type Shift-Return to make Mathematica process your input. (To type Shift-Return, hold down the Shift key, then press Return.) You can use the standard editing features of your graphical interface to prepare your input, which may go on for several lines. Shift-Return tells Mathematica that you have finished your input.

After you send Mathematica input from your notebook, Mathematica will label your input with In[n]:=. It labels the corresponding output Out[n]=.

You type 2 + 2, then end your input with Shift-Return. Mathematica processes the input, then adds the input label In[1]:=, and gives the output.

Throughout this book, "dialogs" with Mathematica are shown in the following way:

With a notebook interface, you just type in 2 + 2. Mathematica then adds the label In[1]:=, and prints the result.

In[1]:= 2 + 2


Section 0.9.1 discusses some important details about reproducing the dialogs on your computer system. Section 1.3 gives more information about Mathematica notebooks.

You should realize that notebooks are part of the "front end" to Mathematica. The Mathematica kernel which actually performs computations may be run either on the same computer as the front end, or on another computer connected via some kind of network or line. In most cases, the kernel is not even started until you actually do a calculation with Mathematica.

To exit Mathematica, you typically choose the Quit menu item in the notebook interface.

IntroductionText-Based Interfaces