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4.3.4 Troubleshooting

Installation difficulties

If you are unable to copy the Mathematica application to your hard drive, you may not have write privileges to the destination folder. Copy the application to another location (such as your home folder) or log in as administrator. If problems persist, check our website at

Registering on the Web

In order to register directly on the web with Mathematica, you must use Internet Explorer 5.1.1 or later, or Omniweb. To register on the web with any other browser, you will need to manually enter into the URL field.


When you first installed Mathematica 5.0 for Mac OS X, you probably noticed that there was a single icon rather than a folder full of other folders, as was the case with Mathematica for Mac OS 9. On Mac OS X, the icon is both an application and a folder. Apple usually calls these packages.

In the Finder, you can double-click the package icon to launch Mathematica, just like a normal application. If you ControlKeyKeyBarclick the icon, a pop-up menu appears that allows you to show the contents of the bundle, revealing the folder structure underneath.

Memory Management

In Mac OS X, memory management is handled automatically by the operating system. You will no longer have to configure memory preferences for the front end or the kernel, as was the case under Mac OS 9. You can still, however, improve performance by reducing the amount of memory needed by Mathematica.

To reduce memory use in the front end:

  • Close notebooks when you are finished with them.

  • Clear the Clipboard by copying something small to replace large data, or use Edit RightTrianglePaste As RightTrianglePaste and Discard instead of Paste.

  • If you only need to edit a notebook, run the front end without starting the kernel.

  • Save notebooks after large results and plots.

To reduce memory use in the kernel:

  • Use a setting such as $HistoryLength=10 to limit the number of input and output lines stored.

  • Use Remove [vars] to remove any unneeded variables.

  • Use the command Share periodically.


Pathnames on Mac OS X use a POSIX-style forward slash instead of the older Macintosh colon. The root of the system is designated by / on Mac OS X, and the current directory is . (a period).


Front end preferences, such as the names of recent palettes and style sheets or the locations of recently opened and saved files, are stored in a front end initialization file called init.m. These preferences are stored in three folders—FrontEnd, Kernel, and Licensing—in the ~user/Library/Mathematica folder.

The most convenient way to reset the front end preferences to their default values is to hold down ShiftKeyKeyBarOptionKey during startup. This will cause the initialization file to be rebuilt automatically.


Information about your Mathematica system layout, such as the locations of text resource files and Help Browser files, are stored in caches. These caches are located in the directory specified by $UserBaseDirectory. To find the exact location of $UserBaseDirectory on your machine, evaluate the command $UserBaseDirectory in a notebook.

A corrupted cache may cause the front end to produce an error or quit immediately on startup. The most convenient way to restore the caches to their default values is to hold down ShiftKeyKeyBarOptionKey during startup. This will cause the Mathematica caches and the initialization file to be rebuilt automatically.

If you want to rebuild your caches but retain your preferences, hold down ShiftKey during startup. This will delete and rebuild the cache without rebuilding your front end intialization file.


Caches are created for graphics to allow for quick retrieval of images. If you change your monitor settings in the System Preferences on your Macintosh, graphics may appear strange. To rerender all graphics after changing any setting for your monitor, select the graphics and use Cell RightTriangle Rerender Graphics.

Standard Add-on Packages

If you are unable to load any standard add-on packages, make sure that the packages are installed. Make sure back quotes are used in the loading command, as in <<Graphics`Graphics3D`.

Connecting to Remote Kernels

To connect to a remote kernel, you must be able to connect via rsh without a password to the machine running the kernel.

File Extensions

Mac OS X can work with several different file systems, including HFS and HFS+ (the native Macintosh file system), Unix File System (UFS), and Network File System (NFS). If you save a file on a non-HFS+ volume, you must name the file with a .nb extension to have Mathematica launch when you double-click the file's icon. On an HFS or HFS+ volume, the .nb extension is optional.


If you have installed Mathematica in a location where all users can run it (for example, in the Applications folder), then the Configuration folder of the main Mathematica bundle (see above for more information about bundles) allows you to set up systemwide defaults for the front end. This is ideal for setting up Mathematica for use in computer labs and classrooms.

To set up a configuration file for the front end:

1. Set up any changes to the front end that you need in Mathematica. (Examples of this are: palettes listed in File RightTrianglePalettes, changes to new untitled notebooks, and many others.)

2. Quit Mathematica.

3. Go to the ~user/Library/Mathematica/FrontEnd folder, and copy the file init.m to the Mathematica bundle.

These preferences will now be used with the front end unless overridden by the local init.m file stored in the user's Library/Mathematica folder.


Several Mathematica fonts are installed in the Mathematica bundle. After you run the front end for the first time, the fonts will be available to any program on your system. You do not need to know which font a particular character is from in order to use it; this is handled automatically by Mathematica.

Front end command-line options

-cleanStart. Tells the front end to ignore caches stored in the user's preferences directory, $UserBaseDirectory/FrontEnd/Caches, and rebuilds the front end global preferences storage file, $UserBaseDirectory/FrontEnd/init.m.

-mathLink. Causes the front end to run in MathLink mode. In MathLink mode, the front end runs as a child process that is capable of accepting MathLink packets. This option may be useful when the front end is used as a typesetting or graphics rendering service.

-singleLaunch. Allows only one copy of the front end per display.

Kernel command-line options

-initfile file. Specifies the name of a file containing commands that should be run on startup.

-initpath dir. Specifies a path to search for an initialization file called init.m.

-mathlink. Specifies that the kernel should be run in MathLink mode.

-noinit. Specifies that no initialization file should be read at startup.

-password string. Specifies a valid password. The argument should have the form "machine MathID licensenumber password".

-pwfile file. Specifies the name of a mathpass file that has a valid password.

-pwpath dir. Specifies a path to search for a file called mathpass, which stores a valid password.

-run. Specifies a command to run immediately on startup.

Technical Support

For further assistance, check the Technical Support FAQs on the web at If you do not find the information you need, please contact Technical Support. Include your license number in all correspondence. The license number is located on your license certificate. It is also available after installation by going to the Apple menu and clicking About Mathematica. You must be a registered customer to receive technical support.