November 2020

Christopher Mabb From: Dr Christopher Mabb, Scientific Word Ltd.
To: Our Scientific Word/WorkPlace/Notebook Technical Typesetting list


    Some further tips and technical support information to help our users get the most from Scientific Word/WorkPlace/Notebook.
    The current version of Scientific Word, Scientific WorkPlace and Scientific Notebook is still v6.0.30. If you are running an earlier version (go to Help – About on Windows, or SW/P – About on a Mac; the build number is at the bottom) we recommend you update to the current version; the updated installation instructions are here.


  1. Problem downloading:    We hardly know what to make of this; but users in two different countries a world apart (almost in two different hemispheres) reported being unable to download the Scientific Word/WorkPlace program file within a few days of each other:
    I would like to try Scientific Word 6 for one month, but I don't succeed in downloading the programme.
    Here are the suggestions we made in response:

    1. There are links to two separate servers on our Download page: the primary Amazon server and our Backup server. Please try them both
    2. If left-click doesn't trigger the download, please try right-click – Save link as
    3. If possible: Failing the above, try downloading onto a different computer.

    We never found out whether it was an over-zealous firewall, or a coincidental outage of both our servers; but the problem seems to have gone away. If you experience this problem recurring, please let us know whether you're trying to download to a Mac or Windows; and send us a screenshot of the failure/error message.
    We'll do our best to get you up and running in some other way.

  2. v6.0 backup files:    Everybody knows that they ought to keep multiple backups of the files they're working on. We've all known it for years. But sometimes, in the rush to finish a piece of work, knowing it and doing it are two different things. And it's at that point that your system crashes and corrupts the only copy of your document – which needs to be finished by tomorrow... Fortunately, we were keeping an automatic backup of your document for you in the same folder.
    We covered this point in our November 2018 mailing Item 4, but our description there didn't succeed in telling the full story. So let's try again.

    Suppose your Scientific Word/WorkPlace document is [filename].sci in the folder \SWDocs or \SWPDocs as appropriate. What you want to do is first save a copy of the automatic backup [filename].bak and then rename the copy as [filename]2.sci, in order that you can open it from Scientific Word/WorkPlace and continue working. But depending how you've got your Windows File Explorer set up, when you go to \SWDocs or \SWPDocs it might only show you the base name of the file (ie. [filename]) and not the three-letter extension (thus [filename].sci, [filename].bak); in which case, when you follow our November 2018 instructions to right-click – Rename, you're only able to change [filename], not to change .bak to .sci.
    It's true that you can right-click on the heading (where it says 'Name') and make sure the 'Type' column is showing; this will show you which the .sci and which the .bak files are. But it won't allow you to change anything.

    The solution (in File Explorer) is to either:

    1. Click File – (Change folder and search) Options – Folder options – View... and uncheck "Hide extensions for known file types" – OK; or
    2. Click View – File name extensions (and check the box).

    The files will now show with their three-letter extension in the Name column: ie. [filename].sci and [filename].bak.

    Hint: immediately make plenty more manual backups!

    We agree this is quite a rigmarole just to recover your backup and continue working. We have had conversations with MacKichan Software to encourage them to change the Scientific Word/WorkPlace interface so as to enable the program to open these backup files directly from File – Open. Watch for the next version!

  3. 'Forgotten' licence:    Very occasionally we hear that Scientific Word has 'forgotten' someone's licence and the user is not able to save any documents. That's the issue covered in our February 2018 mailing Item 3, with our best guess as to why it happens.

  4. Coronavirus rescue:    We quite like to provide our users with excellent service. And we love a challenge. But it was the novel turn of phrase that we really found compelling.
    A few months ago (during lockdown) one of our users got in touch to say:
    I have a long standing Scientific Workplace licence that dates to 2011... been isolating since March... I have a new PC and SWP CD Rom is in my office and I am not allowed back on campus. Is there any way I can get to a copy without having to burgle my office...
    The reference to a CD-ROM, together with the date, indicated we were talking about Scientific WorkPlace v5.5. We replied promptly in order to get the user up and running straight away with a 30-day demo:
    No problem – good to hear from you! The easiest way to get up and running immediately on a fresh machine is to install the free 30-day demo (; we recommend you use the download rather than the CD-Rom unless it's the latest Build 2960 (printed on the CD label). Be sure to follow the installation instructions precisely to avoid problems
    and within a few hours had searched the database to find the user's permanent serial number, which we Emailed together with a copy of his original invoice.
    Always happy to head off a case of breaking and entering on University property.

  5. Second Law of Thermodynamics:    We're aware that some users are still buying Scientific Word/WorkPlace licences with a view to running v5.5 rather than v6.0 (see the related item in our September 2020 mailing Item 5). That's fine: as we pointed out last month, the terms of our Fixed Licence (Clause 2) cover you to install either/both version 5.5 and version 6.0 on all your machines for your own use.
    However, if you are going to run v5.5 and v6.0 on the same machine, please install and Register v5.5 first: an anomaly in MacKichan's licensing server means it doesn't like issuing a v5.5 licence for the same machine for which it has already Activated v6.0. I guess the licensing server believes that time only goes one way...

  6. Brexit:    In our December 2019 mailing Item 1 we did our best to anticipate the effects of Brexit on our supply of software to our customers – concluding that the main issue would probably relate to charging and accounting for VAT in the case of our EU customers.
    We're still not much clearer how things will be from January 2021, although we're confident there will not be any disruption for customers either inside the UK, or those outside the EU. But customers inside the EU (including the Republic of Ireland) who are intending to buy a Scientific Word/WorkPlace licence in the foreseeable future would be well-advised to do so a clear week before the end of December.


That's all from us for the moment; we send this mailing to our users every couple of months or so. But please just let us know if you no longer wish to remain on our mailing list, and we'll confirm your removal within hours.

This software is way too good to keep to yourself! Why not tell your colleagues and co-authors? Perhaps some Emails... maybe a blog post on a mathematics/economics forum? Even easier is to Share our Facebook page – or any of the Product pages on our website – with your Facebook friends. Thanks a lot.


Christopher Mabb, Scientific Word Ltd., UK
Tel: +44 (0)345 766 0340; Fax: +44 (0)345 603 9443