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2.3.4 Troubleshooting

Installation Difficulties

If the installer fails, open the PC__8_3 directory on the CD and run Setup.exe to install Mathematica. If that does not work, check the web page on installation at

Front End Preferences

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. This file is located in $UserBaseDirectory\Mathematica\FrontEnd. The default value of $UserBaseDirectory for different versions of Windows is shown below.

Location of the $UserAddOns directory for different versions of Windows.

The most convenient way to reset the front end preferences to their default values is to hold down ShiftKeyKeyBarControlKey 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, is stored in caches. These caches are located in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Mathematica on Windows 98/Me/NT and in C:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Mathematica on Windows 2000/XP.

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 ShiftKeyKeyBarControlKey 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.

Help Files

If Mathematica is unable to locate information in the Help Browser, make sure that the documentation has been installed. By default, a minimal installation will not install these files.


Caches are created for graphics to allow quick retrieval of images. If you change the display settings on your system, graphics in your notebook may appear strange when you open the notebook. To rerender graphics after changing any setting for your monitor, select the graphics and use Cell RightTriangleRerender 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`.


If the front end crashes, do the following before restarting the front end:

1. If Mathematica 5.0 Kernel is still present in the task bar, right-click it and choose Close from the pop-up menu.

2. Restart your computer.

If the front end crashes again before any notebook is open, restart the front end while holding down the ShiftKey and ControlKey keys. This removes the existing initialization files and rebuilds them.

SCANDISK and DriveSpace Incompatibility

The SCANDISK program that comes with Windows 98/Me is limited to working with files whose complete pathnames in DOS mode are no more than 66 characters long. Some files in the Mathematica layout have longer pathnames than this, and SCANDISK treats this as a possible error. If you run SCANDISK interactively, tell it to ignore these errors.

Unfortunately, the DriveSpace 3 disk compression software uses SCANDISK to check the disk before compressing it. Therefore, you will not be able to use DriveSpace 3 to compress a drive that has Mathematica installed on it. You can, however, uninstall Mathematica, compress the drive, and then reinstall Mathematica.

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 the license number in all correspondence. The license number is located on your license certificate. It is also available after installation by going to the Help menu and clicking About Mathematica. You must be a registered customer in order to receive technical support.