Although there may be better ways to get data and definitions from another notebook (packages, read/write dumps, ...), sometimes it is convenient to just evaluate the initialization cells from another notebook to re-use the data and definitions.

Normally I would open this notebook and manually Evaluate Initialization Cells, but I was wondering if there is a way to do this automatically, i.e. with some code.

Question: is there a way to evaluate the Initialization Cells of a certain notebook by filename?

Related questions:


2 Answers 2


I think it is more convenient to use NotebookEvaluate. We can do

NotebookEvaluate[filename, EvaluationElements-> "InitializationCell"]

Confusing here may be that this has the same result as

NotebookEvaluate[filename, EvaluationElements -> Automatic]

Even though if we simply do


all the cells get evaluated.

  • $\begingroup$ I did not know NoteBookEvaluate and you are right: that's much sleeker than my solution. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 11:07
  • $\begingroup$ @A.Goossens Well, I'm glad you asked :). With all the Notebook functions it can be hard to find the right one. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Jacob +1. Are you sure NotebookEvaluate does not use the FrontEnd in background? $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexeyPopkov Ah yes, maybe there was a bit of bluff there. I will use it from shell interface to make sure $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexeyPopkov ah, it does use the front end! Sorry for the misdirection, I will edit. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 13:46

I'm questioning AND answering this because I was looking for a feature like this for a while and now stumbled across FrontEndToken["EvaluateInitialization"] which does exactly what I wanted.

Here is the code to make it work:

filename = SystemDialogInput["FileOpen"];
nb = NotebookOpen[filename];
FrontEndExecute[FrontEndToken[nb, "EvaluateInitialization"]];

Feel free to add improvements or submit an alternative solution.

Hope you like and use this feature as much as I do!

  • $\begingroup$ Can you give an example of what you achieve with the above code? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 22:37

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