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Desktop Basics

When you start MATLAB®, the desktop appears in its default layout.

The desktop includes these panels:

  • Current Folder — Access your files.

  • Command Window — Enter commands at the command line, indicated by the prompt (>>).

  • Workspace — Explore data that you create or import from files.

As you work in MATLAB, you issue commands that create variables and call functions. For example, create a variable named a by typing this statement at the command line:

a = 1

MATLAB adds variable a to the workspace and displays the result in the Command Window.

a = 


Create a few more variables.

b = 2
b = 

c = a + b
c = 

d = cos(a)
d = 


When you do not specify an output variable, MATLAB uses the variable ans, short for answer, to store the results of your calculation.

ans =


If you end a statement with a semicolon, MATLAB performs the computation, but suppresses the display of output in the Command Window.

e = a*b;

You can recall previous commands by pressing the up- and down-arrow keys, ↑ and ↓. Press the arrow keys either at an empty command line or after you type the first few characters of a command. For example, to recall the command b = 2, type b, and then press the up-arrow key.