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Why will MATLAB not start up properly on my MacOS?

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Why will MATLAB not start up properly on my Mac?

Accepted Answer

MathWorks Support Team
MathWorks Support Team on 31 Mar 2021
Edited: MathWorks Support Team on 31 Mar 2021
If MATLAB is not launching properly, and you are not receiving any License Manager Errors, then you may perform the following solutions:
  • Check System Requirements
  • Disable Security Software
  • Regenerate Preferences
  • Start MATLAB from the Installation Folder
  • Provide MATLAB with Full Disk Access
  • Start MATLAB in Debug Mode

Check System Requirements

Ensure that your MacOS meets the system requirements for the release of MATLAB you are attempting to launch. If you have recently updated to a new version of macOS, you may need to update to a newer version of MATLAB.

Disable Security Software

The security software on the machine may be interfering with MATLAB.  To troubleshoot, try disabling any security software or reboot in safe boot. 

Regenerate Preferences

One of the most common reasons for MATLAB to fail to launch is due to corrupted preferences. To regenerate your preferences, remove or rename your preferences directory then relaunch MATLAB:
  1. Open the Finder, the blue face on the dock
  2. In Finder, click on the “Go” menu and select “Go to Folder”
  3. Go to this folder: ~/Library/Application Support/MathWorks/MATLAB
    1. For R2016a and earlier: ~/.matlab
  4. Locate the folder that corresponds to your MATLAB version and delete/rename it. For example, rename “R2021a” to “R2021a_old”.
Note: Do not delete any folders that contain the word licenses in the folder name, e.g. R2021a_licenses. These folders contain important license information.
Once the folder has been renamed, try restarting MATLAB to regenerate the preferences.

Start MATLAB from the Installation Folder

The shortcut generated during the installation of MATLAB may be corrupted or broken. To troubleshoot if this is the cause of MATLAB's failure to launch, start MATLAB from the installation folder:
  1. Open the Finder, the blue face on the dock
  2. In Finder, click on the “Go” menu and select “Go to Folder”
  3. Go to this folder: /Applications/MATLAB_R20XXx.app/bin/
  4. Double click matlab
Note: The R20XXx must be edited to correspond to your install release of MATLAB, e.g. R2021a.
If MATLAB launches, you may create a new alias from the matlab executable in the /bin.

Provide MATLAB with Full Disk Access

If MATLAB does not have the required access permissions it may not start, such as access to the Documents folder. To ensure that MATLAB has the appropriate access permissions, please provide MATLAB with Full Disk Access:
  1. Open Security & Privacy from the System Preferences menu
  2. Select the Privacy tab
  3. Select Full Disk Access on the right
  4. Click the '+' symbol
  5. Click Applications
  6. Select MATLAB

Start MATLAB in Debug Mode

To start MATLAB in debug mode, launch MATLAB without the desktop environment. To do so, open a Terminal window (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and run the following command:
$MATLAB/bin/matlab -nodesktop
Where $MATLAB is the path to your MATLAB directory. For example, if you are using MATLAB R2021a and have installed MATLAB in the default directory, the command will be:
/Applications/MATLAB_R2021a.app/bin/matlab -nodesktop
If MATLAB starts, it will start in the Terminal window itself. The title of the Terminal window will change to say “MATLAB_maci64 -nodesktop.”
From the Terminal window, run the command “desktop” to attempt to start the MATLAB desktop environment. This will produce an error message which may help you to identify the problem. If you would like assistance in interpreting the error, please contact Installation and Licensing Support.
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More Answers (5)

Dwobble
Dwobble on 24 Mar 2020
Possible workaround for running dual monitors:
I've been running MATLAB R2019b on macOS Catalina and am currently using a larger secondary monitor in addition to my native mac screen. I originally set the external monitor to be my primary display, but was unable to load MATLAB beyond the splash screen. By setting the built-in display as the primary display, I was able to successfully load MATLAB beyond the splash screen.
System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement > Drag menu bar to built-in display
Note: While the menu bar on mac appears by default on all connected displays, placement of the menu bar on a display within the system preferences determines which screen is the primary.
  2 Comments
Kashumi Madampe
Kashumi Madampe on 1 Oct 2020
I am using DisplayLink too and had the same problem with MATLAB R2020a. The workaround solved the issue! Thank you so much!

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smsinks
smsinks on 28 Mar 2020
In my case initiating MATLAB Desktop from the Terminal works fine. However, double clicking the MATLAB_2020a icon in the Applications folder (or anywhere else) does not start MATLAB. In the second case Matlab crushes during launch without throwing any error message.
Any suggestions that would fix this?
  4 Comments
Elodie LEVY
Elodie LEVY on 1 Mar 2021
That's woked for me too!
Thanks so much Christian

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Frankie Kan
Frankie Kan on 19 Jun 2018
Edited: Frankie Kan on 19 Jun 2018
use command line to start matlab without JVM, this solved my problem.
cd /Applications/MATLAB_R2018a.app/bin
./matlab -nojvm

Yi Chen
Yi Chen on 10 Dec 2019
This works for me. Thanks
Debugging Mode
Try running MATLAB without the desktop environment. Open a Terminal window (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app) and run the following command:
$MATLAB/bin/matlab -nodesktop
Where $MATLAB is the path to your MATLAB directory. For example, if you are using MATLAB R2016b and have installed MATLAB in the default directory, the command will be:
/Applications/MATLAB_R2016b.app/bin/matlab -nodesktop
If MATLAB starts, it will start in the Terminal window itself. The title of the Terminal window will change to say “MATLAB_maci64 -nodesktop.” From the Terminal window, run the command “desktop” to attempt to start the MATLAB desktop environment. This will produce an error message which may help you to identify the problem. If you would like assistance in interpreting the error, please contact MathWorks support.

Srinivas Gorur Shandilya
Srinivas Gorur Shandilya on 24 Jan 2021
I had this problem too, when using my laptop in headless mode with an external display. The bug can be reproduced by starting MATLAB with the built-in display closed. To get around it, open the built-in display, start MATLAB, and then close it again
I would guess that MATLAB thinks (wrongly) that the built-in display is avaialble, tries to open a window there, fails, and panics.

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