Clearing the Command Window in MATLAB

MATLAB, a high-level programming language created by MathWorks, is primarily known for its mathematical computation and graphics capabilities. One of the essential elements of working in this platform …

Updated October 3, 2023

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MATLAB, a high-level programming language created by MathWorks, is primarily known for its mathematical computation and graphics capabilities. One of the essential elements of working in this platform is the Command Window that allows users to input commands or execute code. This window may accumulate numerous statements over time due to various reasons such as testing scripts, debugging errors, or experimenting with multiple operations. Fortunately, there are ways to clear the Command Window to maintain a clean and organized environment. In this article, we will dive into several methods for clearing the MATLAB Command Window, explaining their usage, and even providing code samples to better demonstrate these concepts.

  1. Using the Clear Command The most straightforward way to clear the entire content of the Command Window is by employing the ‘clear’ command. When you execute this command, MATLAB will erase all statements from the window without requiring any further input or interaction. For example, type “clear” and press Enter within the Command Window for an immediate clean-up.

  2. Clearing Specific Types of Content While the ‘clear’ command can be a helpful tool to get rid of every command in the Command Window, there are situations when you want to remove specific types of statements or variables. To do this, MATLAB provides additional commands that target particular categories of content. Let’s explore each type and how it can help you customize your command window clearing experience:

    a. ‘clc’ Command - The ‘clc’ (clear screen) command removes all text from the Command Window without affecting any variables or other MATLAB workspace elements. This is helpful when you want to start fresh with a clean display while keeping valuable data intact within your workspace. b. ‘clf’ Command - If your focus is on clearing only graphics-related figures, use the ‘clf’ (clear figure) command instead. Executing this command will remove any displayed plot or graph from your MATLAB environment without affecting other variables or statements. This can be useful in situations where you wish to compare various plots side by side and need a clean state for each comparison. c. ‘clvar’ Command - Sometimes, the variables defined in the Command Window might occupy too much space due to their names or values. You can use the ‘clvar’ (clear variable) command to remove specific variables from the workspace without affecting any other variables. This is beneficial when you have numerous variables and need to free up some screen real estate while working with others.

  3. Using Graphical Options for Cleaning Although we have discussed how to clear content using text commands, MATLAB also offers a graphical approach for similar actions through the Workspace Browser panel. To access this window, open your MATLAB environment and navigate to the ‘Workspace’ tab on the top toolbar. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut ‘Ctrl + 1’ (for Windows) or ‘Command + 1’ (for macOS).

    Within the Workspace Browser panel, locate the ‘Clear’ button in the bottom-right corner. Clicking this will bring up another popup with options to clear different elements of your MATLAB environment. You can choose between clearing all data from the workspace or selectively removing variables, scripts, and other content through checkboxes provided next to each category. This is a convenient method for users who prefer visual interfaces over text commands.

  4. Using the ‘clean’ Command Another helpful command for keeping your MATLAB environment clean is the ‘clean’ function. The primary purpose of this command is to discard temporary variables, which are objects created during calculations or evaluations. By executing “clean” within the Command Window, you can free up memory space occupied by these temporary entities and speed up performance. However, please note that it is not advisable to use ‘clean’ on a regular basis as this may lead to unintended variable loss or unexpected errors due to missing required information during future computations.

  5. Other Useful Tips and Techniques In addition to the methods mentioned above, it’s also essential to maintain a clean MATLAB workspace by organizing your variables appropriately. Utilize descriptive names for your variables, use comments in your code to denote important steps or ideas, and keep track of which parts of your script have been executed or tested. These good coding habits will help you navigate through the Command Window more efficiently, making it easier to troubleshoot and maintain a clean environment.

Code Samples:

  1. Clearing the entire Command Window using ‘clear’: “clear”

  2. Removing text from the Command Window using ‘clc’: “clc”

  3. Erasing only graphics-related figures using ‘clf’: “clf”

  4. Deleting a specific variable with ‘clvar’: “clvar(‘my_variable’)”

  5. Utilizing the Workspace Browser panel for cleaning:

    1. Open the workspace window (‘Workspace’ tab or shortcut)
    2. Click on the ‘Clear’ button in the bottom-right corner of the panel
    3. Select the desired elements to clear (variables, scripts, etc.) by checking/unchecking options.
    4. Confirm your choices and proceed with cleaning
  6. Using ‘clean’ for removing temporary variables: “clean”


The ability to efficiently manage the MATLAB Command Window is crucial for effective development in this platform. By understanding different methods, such as employing text commands, utilizing graphical options like the Workspace Browser panel, and using the ‘clean’ function, you can maintain a clean and organized environment throughout your coding journey. Keep in mind that good coding practices, such as using clear variable names and documenting your code, will further enhance the user experience while interacting with the Command Window in MATLAB.