Matlab Cheatsheet

Daniel Weibel
Created 23 Jul 2016
Last updated 27 Jul 2016

Table of Contents

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Version
  3. Exit Matlab
  4. Directory tree navigation
  5. Search path
  6. Files
  7. Run script file
  8. Run function file
  9. Help
  10. Documentation
  11. Get locations of files
  12. Open file in a text editor
  13. Install a new toolbox
  14. Install a new Matlab version


Display the verion of Matlab and the installed toolboxes.


Exit Matlab


Directory tree navigation

cd <path>
delete <file>
mkdir <dir>
rmdir <dir>

Search path

The search path is a set of directories which are searched for script and function files to run.

Display path:


Add a new entry to beginning or end of the search path (this does not persist across Matlab sessions):

path('/new/path/entry', path)
path(path, '/new/path/entry')


Matlab has two types of files that can be executed:

  • Script files
  • Function files

Script files simply contain a series of Matlab commands. Function files contain a single function.

Both files have the extension .m.

Run script file

Assume script file /Users/dw/test.m, and directory /Users/dw is in path (note that the file extension .m must be omitted):


If the directory containing the script file (/Users/dw) is not in the path, then the script can be executed with run (the file extension .m is optional):

run /Users/dw/test
run /Users/dw/test.m

Run function file

  • Each function file can contain only a single accessible function
  • The function name should match the filename (however, it’s the filename that counts)

Assume file test.m containing function y = test(x), and being in the search path:


A function file must be in the search path in order to be executable.

Note that the name specified on the command line for executing a function is actually the filename. Matlab then executes the first function found in this file, even if the function has a different name. For example, if the function contained in test.m is called foo, then calling foo(4) does not work, but calling test(4) executes the function foo.


Display a help message about a function or script extracted from the comments of the corresponding file (works also with operators and toolboxes):

help <name>

Wha help displays is:

  • For function files: the first block of contiguous comments before or after the function statement
  • For script files: the first block of contiguous comments in the file


Open the documentation of a function or class in an external help browser. The documentation in the help browser is identical to the Web documentation on It is usually more comprehensive than the corresponding help texts.

doc <name>

Get locations of files

Find out the absolute paths of function and script files.

which <name>

Open file in a text editor

Open a file in a text editor.

edit <name>

The text editor to use can be defined in MATLAB > Preferences > Editor/Debugger > Editor.

Install a new toolbox

  1. Get the Matlab Installer
    • Log in with MathWorks account
    • Download either the “latest release” (e.g R2016a) or another release that matches the currently installed Matlab version. Note that this downloads only the installer, not the actual Matlab program.
  2. Start the installer, log in, and click through until the window with the list of available Matlab products
  3. Select desired toolboxes and install

Install a new Matlab version

Same procedure as intalling a new toolbox, just select MATLAB as the product to install.

If the new version belongs to a new release (e.g. R2016a instead of R2015b), then a new is created in /Applications. The old installed Matlab release (e.g. /Applications/ is not affected.

All the Matlab releases in /Applications can be used independently from each other. Similarly, the toolboxes are installed independently to any of these releases.

Note: the executable for starting Matlab is /Applications/