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Specify Startup Options

Startup Options from Operating System Prompt

Startup options instruct MATLAB® to perform certain operations when you start the program. Startup options also are called command flags or command-line switches. When you start at the operating system prompt, specify the options as arguments to the matlab command. For example, the following starts MATLAB and suppresses the display of the splash screen.

matlab -nosplash

On Windows® platforms, you can precede a startup option with either a hyphen (-) or a slash (/). For example, -nosplash and /nosplash are equivalent.

Startup Options in Shortcut on Windows Systems

You can add selected startup options to the target path for your shortcut on the Windows platform for MATLAB.

To use startup options for the MATLAB shortcut icon, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the shortcut icon for MATLAB and select Properties from the context menu. The Properties dialog box for MATLAB opens to the Shortcut pane.

  2. In the Target field, after the target path for "matlab.exe", add the startup option, and click OK.

This example runs the MATLAB results script or function after startup, where results.m is in the startup folder or on the MATLAB search path. The text in the Target field is similar to the following:

"C:\Program Files\MATLAB\R2016b\bin\matlab.exe" -r "results"

Include the statement, but not the option (-r) in double quotation marks.

Use semicolons or commas to separate multiple statements. This example changes the format to short, and then runs the MATLAB code file results:

"... matlab.exe" -r "format('short');results"

Separate multiple options with spaces. This example starts MATLAB without displaying the splash screen, and then runs the MATLAB code file results:

"... matlab.exe" -nosplash -r "results"

Startup Options in MATLAB Startup File

The startup.m file is a file you create to specify startup options. Create the startup.m file in a folder on the MATLAB search path. Use startup.m to modify the default search path, predefine variables in your workspace, or define defaults for graphics objects. For example, the following statement adds the user-defined folder /home/myname/mytools to the search path.

addpath /home/myname/mytools

To change the current folder on startup to mytools, set the Initial working folder value, located in the General Preferences options in the Preferences window:


At startup, MATLAB automatically executes the matlabrc.m file and startup.m, if it exists on the MATLAB search path. The file matlabrc.m, which is in the matlabroot/toolbox/local folder, is reserved for use by MathWorks® and by system administrators on multiuser systems. To locate the startup.m file, type:

which startup

If MATLAB finds a startup.m file, then it displays the path to the file.


MATLAB executes any file on the search path named startup that has an executable file extension. Examples of an executable file extension are .m, .mlx, and .mlapp.

Passing Perl Variables on Startup

You can pass Perl variables to MATLAB on startup by using the -r option of the matlab function. For example, assume a MATLAB function test that takes one input variable:

function test(x)

To pass a Perl variable instead of a constant as the input parameter, follow these steps. This command starts MATLAB and runs test with the input argument 10.

  1. Create a Perl script such as

     $val = 10; 
     system('matlab -r "test(' . ${val} . ')"');

  2. Invoke the Perl script at the prompt using a Perl interpreter.

For more information, see the -r option in matlab (Windows), matlab (macOS), or matlab (Linux).

Startup and Calling Java Software from MATLAB

When MATLAB starts, it constructs the class path for Java® software using javaclasspath.txt and javalibrarypath.txt files. For more information, see Java Class Path and Locate Native Method Libraries.

For information about memory allocation for Java objects, see Java Heap Memory Preferences.

See Also

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