I have some old notebook files in version 3 format from the book "Mathematica for Physicists". These files are blank except for the chapter header when opened in Mathematica 9.

I have similar problems with other old notebooks. For example, there is an old notebook called Mir Space Station and it exhibits similar behavior, opening it shows only headers, no formulas or calcuable cells.

How can I recover these notebooks and use them in Version 9?

  • $\begingroup$ I have downloaded the Mir file and could load it into Mathematica without any problems. Mind you I haven't executed it. Mathematica 9.01 on OSX. $\endgroup$
    – Matariki
    Nov 9, 2013 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ I was also able to download the Mir Space Station file and open it in 9.0.1 with no problems. Don't simply click on the link. You must <ctrl>+<click> on the link and choose save as from the Popup menu. If you simply click on the link, the file will appear ok in the browser but you will not be able to save it directly to disk from there. (You can copy and paste to a text file, but that is more complicated than the way I explained above.) $\endgroup$
    – DavidC
    Nov 9, 2013 at 3:48
  • $\begingroup$ The Mir Space Station one works fine for me too (9.0.1 OS X). The files that came with the book---are they really version 3 .nb files or pre-version-3 .ma files? $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Nov 9, 2013 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ Tyler, when you say that you only see the chapter header, do you mean that you see this? That is what it's supposed to look like. To open the section, you need to double click on the cell bracket (bracket on the right with arrow at the bottom) and it'll look like this. $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Nov 9, 2013 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Szabolcs is right. I did not realize I needed to expand the headings. Recognizing the half-arrow on the cell bracket was the key insight here. Thanks Szabolcs. Is that a Hungarian name? $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2013 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


The problem here is that the cells are collapsed and I needed to expand them to see the contents of the notebook. The collapsed cell has a triangular half arrow indicating that it can be expanded by double clicking. This is shown in the screenshot below:

enter image description here

The right bracket on the edge of the screen, circled in the image, has a half arrow at the bottom. This indicates that it can be expanded.


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