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based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
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Documentation / Mathematica / Getting Started / System-Specific Information / Troubleshooting /

Troubleshooting on Windows

Check the Technical Support web pages for further assistance 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 also is available after installation by clicking Help RightTriangleAbout Mathematica.

You must be a registered customer in order to receive installation support. You must have a current Premier Service subscription in order to receive technical support.

Installation difficulties

If the installation fails, open the PC directory on the CD and run MathInstaller.EXE to install Mathematica.

If problems persist or for late-breaking news, check the FAQ for your platform 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 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, are stored in caches. These caches are located in C:\Program Files\Common Files\Mathematica on Windows 98/Me/NT and 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 load help files.


Bitmap caches are created for graphics to allow for quick retrieval of images. If you change the display settings on your system, the colors in your graphics may appear strange. To rerender all graphics after changing any setting to your monitor, select the graphics and use Cell RightTriangleRerender Graphics.

Standard application packages

If you are unable to load any standard application packages, make sure that the packages have been installed. Make sure a backquote (`) is used in the loading command, as in


The backquote character is usually located with the ~ character on the upper left-hand side of the keyboard.


In the event that the front end crashes, do the following before restarting the front end.

1. If Mathematica 5 Kernel is still present in the taskbar, click it with the right mouse button and choose Close from the pop-up menu.

2. If you are running Windows 98 or Me, there is a small chance that a front end crash may destabilize your system. If you experience further problems after a front end crash, 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.

SCANDISK and DriveSpace incompatibility

The SCANDISK program that comes with Windows 98 and 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.


Mathematica performs best on Windows systems with at least 64 megabytes of RAM. Physical memory is supplemented by Windows' virtual memory management.

If there is a shortage of disk space for virtual memory, you might run out of memory when using Mathematica. Even if there is plenty of virtual memory available, large memory demands can hurt your system's efficiency.


Mathematica requires at least an 8-bit display.