Mathematica File Organization
Mathematica Distribution Files
A full
Mathematica installation consists of thousands of separate files, arranged in several hundred directories under the main installation directory. The location of the main installation directory is determined at install time. From within a
Mathematica kernel, its name is given by the value of
$InstallationDirectory.
C:\Program Files\Wolfram Research\Mathematica\8.0 | Windows |
/Applications/Mathematica.app | Macintosh |
/usr/local/Wolfram/Mathematica/8.0 | Unix |
Default locations for the Mathematica installation directory.
The executable programs that launch
Mathematica are typically in the main installation directory. Sometimes there may also be links to them, or scripts accessing them, in other locations. From within a
Mathematica kernel,
First[$CommandLine] gives the full name of the executable program corresponding to that kernel.
Mathematica | Mathematica front end |
MathKernel | Mathematica kernel, usually with its own text-based interface |
math | Mathematica kernel to be run in a terminal or shell |
mcc | script for preprocessing and compiling MathLink C source files |
Typical executable programs accessible from the installation directory.
The main installation directory has three standard subdirectories that contain material distributed with
Mathematica. Under normal circumstances, none of the contents of these directories should ever be modified, except, for example, if you choose to edit a shared stylesheet.
AddOns | bundled Mathematica add-ons |
Documentation | Mathematica system documentation |
SystemFiles | Mathematica system files |
Top-level subdirectories of the main installation directory.
Particularly on Unix systems,
Mathematica often has executable files for different computer architectures and systems stored in a single overall directory structure. Each system is in a subdirectory with a name given by
$SystemID. Some resource directories may also contain files specific both to particular languages and particular computing environments. These files are given in subdirectories such as Japanese/Windows.
Kernel/Binaries/system | kernel binaries or elements for each computer system |
Kernel/SystemResources/system | system-specific .mx files used by the kernel |
Kernel/TextResources | message and text files used by the kernel |
FrontEnd/Binaries/system | front end binaries or elements for each computer system |
FrontEnd/SystemResources | files used by the front end in each window system environment |
FrontEnd/TextResources | message and text files used by the front end |
FrontEnd/StyleSheets | default notebook stylesheets |
FrontEnd/Palettes | default palette notebooks |
Libraries/system | MathLink and other libraries used by the kernel and front end |
Links | developer kits for MathLink and other connection technologies |
Fonts | Mathematica fonts, often copied to a central directory |
CharacterEncodings | specifications of character encodings |
SpellingDictionaries | spelling dictionaries |
SystemDocumentation/env | Unix pages and other environment-specific documentation |
Graphics/Binaries/system | PostScript interpreters and graphics programs |
Graphics/SystemResources | PostScript definitions and other resources for graphics |
Graphics/Packages | packages for setting up graphics |
Typical subdirectories of the SystemFiles directory, part one.
Installation | various auxiliary programs used in installation, called automatically by the main installer program |
IncludeFiles | files for inclusion in other programs |
Java | files for the Java Runtime Environment (if needed) |
Typical subdirectories of the SystemFiles directory, part two.
Files of information to be displayed by the
Mathematica Help Viewer are stored in the Documentation directory.
System/Guides | pages that categorize and link to related functions |
System/ReferencePages/Symbols | reference pages for each of Mathematica's built-in objects |
System/ReferencePages/Formats | reference pages for file formats that Mathematica handles |
Packages/name/Guides, etc. | documentation for add-on items |
Typical subdirectories of the Documentation directory.
Loadable Files
You can customize your
Mathematica by adding files that can be loaded into the system under different circumstances. Such files are conventionally placed in either systemwide or user-specific
base directories.
$BaseDirectory | systemwide base directory for files to be loaded by Mathematica |
$UserBaseDirectory | user-specific base directory for files to be loaded by Mathematica |
Base directories for files to be loaded by Mathematica.
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Mathematica |
| Windows |
/Library/Mathematica | Macintosh |
/usr/share/Mathematica | Unix |
Typical values of $BaseDirectory.
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mathematica |
| Windows |
~/Library/Mathematica | Macintosh |
~ /. Mathematica | Unix |
Typical values of $UserBaseDirectory.
You can specify different locations for these directories by setting operating system environment variables when you launch
Mathematica, as discussed in
"Mathematica Sessions".
Applications | Mathematica application packages |
Autoload | packages to be autoloaded on startup |
FrontEnd | front end initialization files |
Kernel | kernel initialization files |
Licensing | license management files |
SystemFiles | general system files |
Typical subdirectories of Mathematica base directories.
Some files in base directories serve as configuration files, automatically used by the
Mathematica kernel or front end.
Kernel/init.m | run when the kernel is started |
Kernel/end.m | run when the kernel is terminated |
FrontEnd/init.m | read when the front end is started |
SystemFiles/FrontEnd/StyleSheets/ | customized notebook stylesheets |
SystemFiles/FrontEnd/Palettes/ | additional palettes to appear in the front end menu |
Some typical kernel and front end configuration files.
Kernel configuration files can contain any
Mathematica commands. These commands can test global variables such as
$SystemID and
$MachineName to determine what operations to perform. Front end configuration files can contain only certain special commands, as described in
"Input Syntax".
Applications/name/ | named add-on applications |
Autoload/name/ | add-ons to be loaded automatically when Mathematica is started |
Subdirectories under $BaseDirectory and $UserBaseDirectory.
With the default setting for the kernel
$Path variable, an add-on can be loaded from within a
Mathematica session simply by using the command
. This will load the
init.m file for the add-on, which should in turn be set up to load other necessary files or packages.
By placing an add-on under the Autoload subdirectory of
$BaseDirectory or
$UserBaseDirectory, you can have
Mathematica automatically load the add-on whenever you start the kernel or the front end.
Kernel/init.m | an initialization file to be loaded by the kernel |
FrontEnd/init.m | an initialization file to be loaded by the front end |
Documentation/ | documentation to be found by the front end |
Typical possible contents of the directory for an add-on.