How to fix Matlab on OS X Mavericks

Upgrading to OS X 10.9 "Mavericks" can break Matlab and other apps. CETS recommends waiting before installing a new OS, so that bugs and compatibility issues can be resolved. See the ISC Mavericks Technology Brief for a list of issues.

If you can no longer run Matlab on your Apple system after upgrading to Mavericks, please follow these steps:

  1. Download and install the latest version of Java.
  2. Download and install the latest version of XQuartz.
  3. Restart and see if the problem is already resolved. If you are still receiving a "-9" error when launching Matlab after rebooting, then OS X has probably re-ordered your MAC addresses which has confused Matlab's licensing system. Matlab will require a new license file to run properly. If you are using a SEAS "student-matlab" license, please continue on to Step 4. If not, please contact to assist with obtaining a new licensing file from MathWorks.
  4. (These steps are for student-matlab only) Navigate to your Applications folder, right-click on the Matlab application, then choose Show Package Contents. (You can use ctrl-click if you don't have right-click enabled.) Then, within this folder:
    1. Open the Licenses folder and delete any license files.
    2. Delete the Activate folder.
    3. Relaunch Matlab
  5. Choose the option to Activate manually without the internet, then click Next.
  6. Choose the option "I do not have a license file. Help me with the next steps", then click Next. Copy note of the Host ID (MAC address) displayed here. You will need to remove the colons from the Host ID. Leave this window open for later reference.
  7. Log into MathWorks with your student-matlab email address you originally created when first installing Matlab. If you don't remember your password, you can reset it, and the email notification will be forwarded to your SEAS address.
  8. Click on My Account in the upper right hand corner, then the Activation and Installation tab.
    • Click Activate to create a new license.
    • Follow instructions from the original setup article to create a new license file. The instructions are part of the section Downloading and activating Matlab included in the link below. Please read the instructions carefully and pay attention to details.
  9. Once MathWorks has sent out your new license file, save it in a secure place (where you did last time is fine). Use a different filename than the original license file you are replacing.
  10. Go back to the window you have open from Step 6, and click the back button in your browser. This page will allow you to select your recently downloaded license file. Do so, then click Next.

That's it, your copy of Matlab should now be working in OS X Mavericks! If you continue to have trouble, contact CETS at

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