I'm using the free Wolfram Engine for developers, but somehow I cannot activate it.

> wolframscript
The Wolfram Engine requires one-time activation on this computer.

Visit https://wolfram.com/developer-license to get your free license.

Wolfram ID: [email protected]
The Wolfram Kernel must be activated for WolframScript to use it.

I have claimed a developer license with my account.

enter image description here

What does "the Wolfram Kernel" mean, and how do I activate it?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The "Wolfram Kernel" is basically the core executable behind Mathematica. If it's failing to activate even with the correct password I'm not sure what we'll be able to do here. I'd try Wolfram Support. $\endgroup$
    – b3m2a1
    May 22, 2019 at 0:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Great! Also welcome to the Mathematica StackExchange. If you're new to Mathematica I'd let me recommend checking out this and maybe this (full disclosure I wrote the latter and it might be a bit disjoint). It's often a rough transition for programmers fluent in more standard languages like python, Java, and C (it was for me). $\endgroup$
    – b3m2a1
    May 22, 2019 at 0:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Hmmm. Have you paid all of your traffic tickets? $\endgroup$
    – JimB
    May 22, 2019 at 1:05
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Sorry. It was my poor attempt at localized humor. (In the US one sometimes gets turned down for a loan, won't be hired for a job, can't get a driver's license renewed, etc. if one has outstanding tickets or warrants. And as all-knowing as Wolfram-Alpha is, I don't think it has such information readily available.) $\endgroup$
    – JimB
    May 22, 2019 at 1:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @vsht Does your password contain any special character? If YES, choose a new password that contains only letters and activate the license with the new password. $\endgroup$
    – bnuhero
    May 24, 2019 at 1:49

3 Answers 3


I had the same issue. Here is my solution with the free Wolfram Engine for developers on Mac.

There are two relative apps in the launchpad after the engine was installed successfully. One is Wolfram Engine, the other is WolframScript.

Wolfram Engine WolframScript

Run the Wolfram Engine app instead of the WolframScript to activate your free license. This should fix the issue.

Note: Choose a password that doesn't contain any special character for your wolfram ID. Otherwise you always got the error message: 'Incorrect username or password' even if you provided the correct ID and password.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you expand your response? It is unclear what Wolfram Engine is and how you ran it. $\endgroup$
    – gire
    May 24, 2019 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ Wolfram Engine is what reads your input and computes the outputs. The rest are interfaces $\endgroup$
    – Fortsaint
    May 25, 2019 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ after your clarification I can confirm this solves the issue $\endgroup$
    – gire
    May 26, 2019 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, this post was very helpful! (The wolfram.com site does say -- at the time I write this -- to use wolframscript to register the license...) $\endgroup$ May 27, 2019 at 18:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AdrianKeister I'm not sure. But you can try running /Applications/Wolfram\ Engine.app/Contents/MacOS/Wolfram\ Engine in a terminal to activate the license. Good luck. $\endgroup$
    – bnuhero
    May 31, 2019 at 4:01

I am not sure whether they did this on purpose but to enable the walfram engine was quite implicit. (Yes WolframScript is different from Wolfram Kernel.)

Following method should work cross-platform.

First Step

Let's run WolframScript from the command line with argument -v, which is to ask WolframScript to output verbose log. Take Linux as an example,

$ wolframscript -v

Here we will be able to see an url:


Quite self-explanatory this url gives us the activation_key that's associated with our machine/wolfram id. Let's copy paste it into an editor for now.

Second Step

we need to locate the actual WolframKernel in our installation folder. (the .exe for Windows.) Typically it should be under /your_path_to_wolfram_installation/Executables/. Bear in mind this is not the directory where you installed wolframscript (default would be /usr/local/bin in Linux).

In Linux run:

$ ./WolframKernel

It would then prompt you to enter activation_key here (the key we pasted into an text editor earlier on). Press enter to ignore it and then it'd go on to ask you for activation_key again (explicitly in format of XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXX) and an extra password. it also gave you your machine id and math_id. write down this math_id.

The password would be what we need to generate for ourselves. On the command line it'd give you an url again for generating this password:


Leave the terminal window as is and move our focus to a browser.

Register our product using the activation_key. Once done, on the product page let's click on the product here:

enter image description here

In there we choose to manually activate:

enter image description here

Enter your activation_key and your math_id for this precious password. As usual, we write it down.

Third Step

Now go back to terminal window and enter the activation_key and password. This marks the completion of wolfram kernel activation.

Fourth Step

We can now just type wolframscript at command line and enter our usual wolfram_id details. i.e. registration email and password for wolfram online account.

Wolfram should be good to go now.


  1. I am not convinced this is how it's supposed to be activated; it just complicates matters and it has gone muted if this is actually part of official activation process for developer's version.
  2. You should see that your activation key expires in 1 month time (this apparently goes against the announcement for a free developer version.)
  3. Potentially you could also use your activation key to activate a mathematica copy; but that apparently is valid for a month, as explained in #1.
  4. I'll try to get in touch with wolfram support for a clarification on this and update this answer accordingly.
  5. Any command line application typically comes with --help argument as default and using this argument we'd normally find something constructive; among the small bits, -v --verbose is one that we'd notice very often as well.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Their customer service team is surpisingly unhelpful given wolfram/mathematica is probably one of the most advanced technical programming language in the world. $\endgroup$
    – stucash
    Sep 4, 2020 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ The activation key (that it gave me!) is invalid, for some reason. $\endgroup$
    – Julia
    Dec 28, 2020 at 1:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think that the correct URL to obtain the password for the activation key is this: user.wolfram.com/portal/ProductRegistration $\endgroup$
    – rhermans
    Aug 5, 2021 at 12:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You cannot run wolframscript -v without a vaild password. This is an extremely confusing situation. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2022 at 14:19
  • $\begingroup$ In my case, my actual WolframKernel was under /usr/local/Wolfram/. $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2023 at 7:26

I have a similar problem as described here by someone else.

I install the Wolfram Engine on my Mac and succeed the activation according to the support on the Wolfram website. The Wolfram Engine is used in Jupyter notebooks with Visual Studio Code. Sometimes I encounter the problem that the Wolfram Language kernel is failed to load in Jupyter notebooks. At this point if I run the WolframScript, I get the following error message:

The Wolfram Engine could not be activated using your Wolfram ID.

This may have occurred because WolframScript has already activated a different installation of the Wolfram Engine using your account's limited free activation keys. Only two keys are generated when you create a free Wolfram Engine license using https://www.wolfram.com/engine/free-license/.

For additional Wolfram Engine keys, contact Wolfram Research at https://www.wolfram.com/contact-us/.

I check the anwers on this page but none of the proposed methods works on my case (named limited free activation keys problem, a related but different problem). Such problem might be caused by the presence of multiple WolframKernel processes. The kernel cannot be initiated because there are already active kernel instances in the system's memory, especially when the kernels are not properly closed using the Jupyter notebooks.

My solution is as follows:

  • Kill the process of Wolfram Kernel. This can be done by entering the Exit[] symbol in an open kernel session (e.g., WolframScript, Jupyter notebook), or using the Activity Monitor (Task Manager if you use Windows) to terminate the WolframKernel process.
  • Kill other Wolfram related processes using the Activity Monitor.
  • Restart the kernel (by running a WolframScript or a Jupyter notebook) and the problem is solved.

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