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I am using Linux, and I would like to be able to programmatically open notebooks in a running Mathematica instance from the command line. Currently, doing something like

/opt/Wolfram/Mathematica/8.0/Executables/Mathematica foo.nb

launches a new kernel/frontend instance. Is it possible to re-use a running frontend for opening notebooks (short of enforcing single-instance behavior, for which I believe there is a command line option)?

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You can start Mathematica with :

/opt/Wolfram/Mathematica/8.0/Executables/Mathematica -sl &

and then open your notebook in the same session with :

/opt/Wolfram/Mathematica/8.0/Executables/Mathematica -sl foo.nb

From the man page Mathematica --help :

-sl (--singlelaunch): Open in an existing process, if possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, the -sl flag does the trick. Another instance of Mathematica can still be launched by omitting the flag; opening notebooks afterwards with the -sl flag will still be bringing them up in the first instance $\endgroup$ – Leo Alekseyev Oct 27 '12 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ It seems it's very important that the first instance is also started with -sl. $\endgroup$ – Szabolcs Jul 17 '15 at 8:51
  • $\begingroup$ Is there an easy way to change the shortcut so this is the default always $\endgroup$ – William Oct 15 '16 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Its /usr/local/bin/Mathematica -sl in my version of ubuntu but yes it works. $\endgroup$ – William Oct 15 '16 at 20:43

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