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Wolfram MathReader

Wolfram Research's MathReader is an application that can open and display Mathematica notebooks without having Mathematica itself available.

It can be started from a shell prompt by typing either mathreader or MathReader. You can also configure your web browser to open Mathematica files by adding an appropriate “helper application”.


Mozilla is the default browser on the math cluster. To configure it to automatically launch MathReader when you click on a link to a Mathematica file, perform the following actions:

  1. Open the Preferences dialog by selecting Edit->Preferences from the menu
  2. If the Navigator menu in the left pane isn't already expanded, expand it by clicking on the arrow next to the word Navigator
  3. Click on Helper Applications
  4. In the right pane, click on the New Type button
  5. In the New Type dialog that appears, set the following entries to the values shown below:

    MIME Type application/mathematica
    Description Mathematica files
    Extension nb,m,ma
  6. Choose “Open it with”, and type /shared/local/bin/MathReader in the text-entry box
  7. Click OK to save your changes, and OK again in the preferences dialog


Konqueror is the default web browser if you use KDE. Configuring it is similar to configuring Mozilla.

  1. Open the configuration dialog by selecting Settings->Configure Konqueror... from the menu
  2. Choose File Associations
  3. Click on the + next to “application” to expand the list
  4. Click the Add... button at the bottom of the left subpane in the right pane
  5. In the Create New File Type dialog, choose “application” from the Group drop-down menu and type “mathematica” in the Type name box
  6. Click OK to close that dialog
  7. With the new “applications->mathematica” type selected, click the Add... button next to the Filename Patterns box
  8. Add nb to the end of the *. string in the text box and click OK
  9. Do the same for m and ma
  10. Enter Mathematica files (or similar) in the Description field
  11. Click the Add... button in the Application Preference Order subpane
  12. Type /shared/local/bin/MathReader in the file picker at the top of the Choose Application for application/mathematica dialog
  13. Click OK, then OK again in the preferences dialog


One oddity I've noticed so far: You cannot quit the application by clicking the window's close box. If you do, you'll close the current window and open a new untitled window. You must choose File->Quit (or kill the application from the shell) to quit.

Installing MathReader on Your Own Machine

For those of you interested in installing this application on your own machines, versions that run on Mac OS 8 or 9, Mac OS X, x86 or Alpha Linux, Solaris, HP Tru64 Unix, HP-UX, IMB AIX, and, of course, Windows 98/Me/NT/2000 and XP, are available from Wolfram.