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The Mathematica 9 installation on my laptop has developed an odd feature. Just underneath the grey line indicating the input area for a new cell, the expression $Failed appears in small type at the left hand end.

This occurs even before I type anything in a fresh notebook created at start-up. I tried deleting both the Kernel's and FrontEnd's init.m files but that did not help. As soon as I start to type an input, it disappears. It doesn't seem to interfere with kernel evaluations but is just annoying.

This is how it looks in a new notebook created at start-up.

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OK, I added a screenshot to the original post. –  John Jowett Apr 16 '14 at 11:32
I would try resetting preferences to their defaults. Maybe you are automatically evaluating some notebook at startup (which contains some kind of error). For example: Preferences->Global Options->File Locations has the option to AutoOpenNotebooks. –  bill s Apr 16 '14 at 14:45
Thanks but that didn't seem to help. I am wondering now if this $Failed is coming from the Front End Kernel, as described at mathematica.stackexchange.com/questions/21870/… –  John Jowett Apr 17 '14 at 7:34
Re-installing Mathematica fixed it. –  John Jowett Apr 17 '14 at 8:43

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