Opening a Command Window in MATLAB - A Comprehensive Guide for Engineers and Python Experts

Learn how to open and effectively use the command window in Matlab, an essential tool for data scientists, engineers, and programmers. This detailed guide also covers its applications and advantages o …

Updated October 4, 2023

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Learn how to open and effectively use the command window in Matlab, an essential tool for data scientists, engineers, and programmers. This detailed guide also covers its applications and advantages over other programming environments.

Introduction to MATLAB Command Window

The MATLAB Command Window is a powerful tool that enables you to work directly with the MATLAB environment, interactively entering commands, viewing results in real-time, and executing functions. With its extensive library of built-in functions and user-defined packages, MATLAB empowers users to handle complex computations, create custom tools, and efficiently analyze vast amounts of data.

In this article, we delve into the details of how to open a Command Window in MATLAB, demonstrating its usage for various tasks. We will also discuss the advantages it holds over other programming environments such as Python. With these techniques under your belt, you can become an even more efficient and well-rounded engineer or data scientist.

Opening a Command Window in Matlab

Before exploring the advantages of using the MATLAB Command Window, let’s first learn how to open it in different ways.

  1. From the MATLAB desktop: Double-click on the MATLAB icon to launch the application. Alternatively, click on the “Start” menu and search for “MATLAB,” then choose the relevant option to open the program. The main MATLAB window should appear with several tabs like “Home”, “File Editor”, and “Command History”.
  2. From within MATLAB: To open a new Command Window from within MATLAB, simply type ‘edit’ in the existing Command Window or any other available M-file editor (such as Home > File Editor). This will automatically launch a fresh Command Window for you to work with.
  3. From the command line: If you have already launched a command shell (either a Unix/Linux command prompt or Windows Command Prompt), you can use the command ‘matlab’ to open a new MATLAB session, which includes an automatically opened Command Window.
  4. Using your operating system’s default file association: Right-click on an .m file in Windows File Explorer or Finder and select “Open with” > “MATLAB”. This will launch the MATLAB application, opening a new Command Window and displaying the selected .m file automatically.

Working with the Command Window

Now that you have successfully opened a Command Window, let’s explore some key aspects of working within this environment:

Typing Commands

Similar to Python or any programming language, commands in MATLAB are typed into the Command Window. These commands can either be individual lines (e.g., variable assignment) or entire scripts. Once you type a command and press “Enter”, its result is displayed in the window as well.

Saving and Executing Scripts

In order to run specific functions or calculations repeatedly, it’s convenient to save your commands in a script file. To do this, simply type the desired commands into a new MATLAB file (e.g., filename.m) by clicking “Home” > “File Editor”. You can also use the same ‘edit’ command mentioned earlier. Once complete, save the file using “Save As…” to choose your desired filename and location. To execute this script in the Command Window, type ‘run filename.m’, where ‘filename’ is replaced with the actual script name.

Executing Functions from Other Files

Sometimes you may need to use functions from a different MATLAB file within your current session. You can achieve this by using the ‘run’ command with relative pathing, such as typing ‘run ../myfolder/myscript.m’, or by using absolute paths if necessary. This will run the specified script in the given directory without requiring you to copy and paste all its contents into a new file.

Command History

The Command Window maintains a history of previously executed commands, allowing you to quickly reuse previous lines. You can view your command history by clicking “Command History” at the bottom of the window. The most recent commands appear at the top and are automatically removed as you use them, maintaining a rotating list. To access an older command, simply click its corresponding row in the history and press “Enter” to re-execute it.

Advantages of Using MATLAB Command Window over Python

While many programming languages share similar features such as scripting capabilities and the ability to handle data analysis tasks, there are a few reasons why using the MATLAB Command Window might be advantageous for engineers or data scientists:

  1. Built-in functions library: MATLAB offers a vast array of pre-defined functions that can significantly accelerate your workflow. This means you won’t need to write every function from scratch, saving valuable time and resources.
  2. Object-oriented programming support: MATLAB supports objects with class definitions and inheritance. You can create custom classes, define their attributes, and implement methods for various use cases.
  3. Simulink integration: MATLAB is accompanied by a graphical programming environment known as Simulink, which allows you to model complex systems using block diagrams, perform advanced simulation tasks, and even incorporate hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) systems in your projects.
  4. Built-in data visualization tools: MATLAB offers many built-in functions for plotting charts and graphs of various types, enabling a seamless process from data analysis to visual communication.
  5. Optimized for multithreaded and GPU-based computation: When using MATLAB with Parallel Computing Toolbox or MATLAB’s own GPU-accelerated algorithms, you can leverage the power of multiple threads and GPUs for significantly faster computations.
  6. Large community support: The MATLAB ecosystem includes a wide range of third-party libraries, toolboxes, and resources provided by the developer, MathWorks, as well as an extensive online community offering tutorials, code samples, and solutions to common challenges.


In this comprehensive guide, we have explored how to open a Command Window in MATLAB, discussed its usage, and compared it to other programming environments like Python. You’ve also learned the significant advantages of using the MATLAB platform for engineers and data scientists, such as extensive built-in functions libraries, object-oriented programming support, and powerful visualization tools. By becoming familiar with the MATLAB Command Window, you will be well-prepared to navigate complex computations and accelerate your workflow while solving real-world problems.