6 The Origin Interface
The Origin Workspace
This chapter contains basic information on navigating the Origin workspace. Long-time Origin users can skim this chapter.
Windows File Explorer Previews
While not part of the Origin interface, you can use Windows File Explorer (previously "Windows Explorer") to preview graphs in a project file.
- Windows Explorer's Large or Extra large icons views (right-click in File Explorer and choose View: Large Icons or Extra Large Icons or select from the Explorer View menu) will show an image of the last active graph before the project file was saved.
- Open the Preview Pane (ALT + P) and scroll through all graphs in the project file.
- If you do NOT wish to save graph previews into the file (either in icon view or in the Explorer Preview Pane), you can set LabTalk system variable @PESS=0 or =-1. For information on changing the value of a system variable, see FAQ-708 How do I permanently change the value of a system variable?
Origin Menus and Menu Commands
- Context-sensitivity of menu bar and menus: The menu bar and menu commands are context-sensitive; they change as you change window type (from worksheet to graph to matrix, for instance). Only menus pertinent to the active window will display.
- Menu bitmaps, toolbar buttons and shortcut keys: Some menu commands also have bitmaps that display to the left of the command. Additionally, you may see a shortcut key combination listed to the right of a menu command. The button bitmap and the shortcut keys indicate alternate ways to access the same functionality.
- Shortcut menu commands: Many commands are available from shortcut menus. To open a shortcut menu, right-click on an Origin object (worksheet window, graph axis, text object, etc.). Only pertinent menu commands will show.
- Collapsible menus: By default, main and shortcut menus in Origin are "collapsed", meaning they display an abbreviated set of commands. When you use a menu item which isn't included, it is added to the menu. If you prefer to always see full menus, click Preferences: Options > Miscellaneous tab and clear the Enable Collapsible Menus box.
- Most frequently used analysis menu commands: Most-recently used menu commands will appear at the bottom of the analysis menus (Worksheet, Analysis, Statistics, Image, etc.). This gives you quick access to tools when performing repeat operations.
- Custom Menu Organizer: Since Origin 8.1, Origin users have been able to use the Custom Menu Organizer to add or remove menu items. To learn more, see the chapter Customizing Origin, later in this Guide.
Customize Toolbar dialog box (View: Toolbars) to control toolbar display and reset or reinitialize toolbars.
- Customize toolbar button appearance: Use controls on the Options tab of the Customize Toolbars dialog box to modify button and toolbar appearance.
- Dock/Float a toolbar: Toolbars can be undocked and made to float on the workspace. To float a toolbar, hover over the left-end of the toolbar. When the pointer becomes a four-headed arrow, drag the toolbar off of the toolbar space. To return the toolbar to its former docked position, double-click the toolbar title bar.
- Hide/Show a toolbar: Clicking the Close button on a toolbar removes the toolbar from view. To restore a hidden toolbar, open the Customize Toolbars dialog box and select the toolbar.
- Hide/Show a button: Clicking the tiny arrow at the end of toolbar to turn on/off some buttons on a toolbar.
- Move button location: Alt+drag a button to move it to a new location within or among toolbars. Alt+drag to blank workspace to create a new toolbar. Alt+drag a button to child window til X shows to remove a button.
Origin 2021b adds Mini Toolbars for select 3D Graphs: 3D Scatter, 3D Bar, 3D Surface, 3D Ribbon & Wall and 3D Vector; plus toolbars for quick edits to 3D Axis, 3D Error Bar, 3D Layer and 3D Page.
OriginLab continues to add Mini Toolbar support for common objects and tasks. These toolbars appear when the user selects an object or when the user clicks in certain key areas inside the page. Available controls depend on context (selected object, window type, etc).
- To display the toolbar, select an object such as a data plot, a text label, or a worksheet cell.
- In addition, there are toolbars for more-general page- and layer-level customizations and these toolbars are displayed by hovering near the margins of the window. When you see your mouse cursor change to something like this , this is your cue that clicking in this spot will display a Mini Toolbar of relevant tools.
- Most Mini Toolbars have a Properties button that gives access to more complex settings (e.g. a graph window's Plot Details dialog box).
- If you move away or you do not act quickly enough, a Mini Toolbar will fade away. To restore a Mini Toolbar after it has faded, press the SHIFT key.
- To add or remove buttons from a Mini Toolbar, click on the three dots at the bottom center of the toolbar. This opens the Customize Mini Toolbar dialog box where you can enable or disable buttons as needed.
Enter keywords and phrases into the Find box to return relevant Menu entries, Apps, FAQs, Videos and X-Functions. Open recently-opened Files, Menus and Apps.
Open the Start Menu by (1) pressing F1 (when no other dialogs are open), (2) by clicking the magnifying-glass icon at the bottom left corner of the Origin workspace, or (3) by clicking Help: Activate Start Menu (main menu).
To narrow your search, type the following letters in front of the search term(s):
m = search only Menu entries
a = search only Apps
h = search only Help + FAQ
v = search only Videos
x = search only X-Functions
p = search your recent projects
s = search sample projects
e = search Menus + Apps + X-Functions (only executable)
Click the "gear" icon beside the search field to open the Settings box. Here you can restrict search results and tweak other search settings.
Learning Center is a "startup" dialog that gives quick access to graphing and analysis examples, plus learning resources (tutorials, videos, the OriginLab blog, etc.).
- To open the dialog, choose Help: Learning Center or press F11.
- Check or clear the Show on Startup box to show or hide this dialog each time Origin starts.
- View and load sample graphs, including sample data and notes on re-creating the graph.
- Load analysis samples with data.
- Browse the Learning Resources tab for tutorials and videos and links to the Origin Blog, User Forum and Origin social media pages.
- Move files from your previous User Files Folder to your new User Files Folder.
To see new graphs in Origin 2021b, open the Learning Center, click the Graph Samples tab, set the plot filter drop-down to All Plot Types and search on 2021b.
Project Explorer (PE) is a tool to help you organize the contents of your Origin project files (OPJ).
Project Explorer (PE) is split into two panels. The primary panel shows the OPJ folder structure. The sub-panel shows windows contained in the folder that is highlighted in the primary panel.
Prior to 2018, the sub-panel listed sub-folders under the selected folder. If you would like to restore the old behavior, set the value of system variable @PEF = 1.
Using Project Explorer to manage your projects:
- Right-click the PE title bar or click the drop-down menu to display the panels stacked (Vertical Alignment) or side-by-side (Horizontal Alignment).
- Context menus in both panels provide options to delete, hide, print, etc. Menu options vary depending on what is selected or where you have right-clicked.
- Multiple-selection of windows in the sub-panel is supported (press Shift or Ctrl while clicking with your mouse).
- The sub-panel supports differing views of windows: Details (default), List, Small Icons, Large Icons, Extra Large Icons.
- In any view, mousing over a window icon shows a popup preview of the graph, worksheet, matrix or layout window. Notes window content is shown in a tooltip.
- When displaying windows as Extra Large Icons, the PE sub-panel displays a thumbnail of graphs, layout windows, workbooks and matrixbooks. Notes window content is shown in a tooltip.
You can right-click on PE folder (upper panel) and choose Copy -- or select the folder and do a CTRL + C and CTRL + V -- to copy and paste the folder structure and content to (a) another folder in the current project or (b) another project running in a second Origin session. To copy a single workbook window, right-click on the window (lower panel) and copy and then paste the window to (a) another folder in the same project, or (b) to a new project running in a second Origin session.
- Select Help: Open Folder: Program Folder, click the Samples subfolder, then drag the file Tutorial Data.opj to your Origin workspace.
- By default, Project Explorer is docked to the left side of the Origin workspace in auto-hide mode. Mouse over the Project Explorer tab to show the PE window.
- Click on the "push pin" icon on the PE title bar to pin the window in the docked position.
- By default the sub-panel is in Details view. In this view, window metadata such as Name, Size and Comments show below these column headings. Try dragging column headers to reorder them.
- Right-click on the column headings and show or hide any of the headings by checking or unchecking the box beside each.
- To add a comment in the Comments field, click once, pause briefly and click a second time. This puts you into edit mode. Enter a comment.
- To change the Name of a window, right-click in the row and choose Rename. By default, the Name field displays the window Short Name; or if a window Long Name exists, the window Long Name (all windows must have a Short Name but Long Names are optional). Click the SN or LN button to the right-side of the editable Name field to edit the Short Name or Long Name. If the Long Name does not exist, you can enter one.
- In the top panel of Project Explorer, scroll to the folder 3D Surface with Point Label and click on it. The sub-panel shows that there are three windows in the folder. Note that the worksheet window eastcali3053 is bold indicating that it is the "active" window - the window that is being acted upon as well as the window that determines what operations are available. There is also a Notes window, and a matrix window named MBook4.
- In the sub-panel, double-click on MBook4 and note that it is now bold and has a magenta "halo", indicating that it is the active window. You will also see that the whole window(in the workspace) displays with a halo which can be customized in color with the system variable @AWC-- another indicator that this is the "active" window. Double-click on this MBook4 icon again and note that the icon is now dimmed. Note also that the actual window disappears from the workspace. This is because MBook4 is now hidden. Double-click the MBook4 icon again and the window is restored and made active.
- With MBook4 active, click Plot > 3D: Surface: 3D Colormap. This creates a 3D colormap surface graph (close the attention message). Note also that a new window -- Graph1 -- has been added to the sub-panel of Project Explorer.
- Right-click in an empty portion of the sub-panel and choose View: Extra Large Icons. Note that Graph1 now displays a graph thumbnail.
- Right-click again and choose View: Large Icons. Note that windows are now represented by icons but if you hover on them, you can see the window contents as a pop-up.
To disable PE previews, open the Script Window (Window: Script Window) and type one or both of the following, then highlight the text and press Enter:
@PESS=-1; //turn off window preview in PE, show window comments as tooltip
@PESH=0; //turn off window comments tooltip
When you set the value of a system variable using the Script Window, you are altering Origin's behavior for the current session only. To set the value of a system variable across sessions, see this FAQ.
Apps Gallery and App Center
Apps are add-on applications for Origin that perform specific graphing and/or analysis tasks. A small number of Apps that are broadly applicable to science and engineering fields are pre-installed with your Origin software.
Use the App Center dialog for browsing, updating or downloading Origin Apps. This new dialog gives you direct access to all of the Apps on the OriginLab File Exchange without you having to open a browser and navigate there.
To launch the App Center, click the Add Apps button that appears on all tabs of the Apps Gallery, docked at the right-side of your Origin workspace. If you do not see the Apps Gallery, click View: Apps (or ALT + 9) and verify that there is a check mark beside Apps.
- Installed and Up-to-date Apps will appear in the App Center with a green check mark beside them
- Installed Apps for which there is a newer version will appear with an Update icon beside them
- Those not installed will appear with a clickable Download and Install icon beside them
Origin's Statistics, Analysis: Fitting and Analysis: Peaks and Baseline menus include a Find Apps entry. Clicking Find Apps opens the App Center to show only Apps that relate to the current menu (e.g. Statistics). You can download or update Apps directly from the App Center.
New Apps and App updates are are continually made available to Origin and OriginPro users. Be sure to open your App Center occasionally (press F10) and if it displays the red Download Now button, click to get the latest list of available Apps.
For more information on Apps, please visit www.originlab.com/apps.
Object Manager is a dockable panel that opens to the right side of the workspace, by default. Use the Object Manager for quick manipulation of the active graph or workbook window.
- Select an element (layer, plot group, data plot or special point) in the Object Manager to select the corresponding element in the graph window and vice versa. Selection also (a) dims all other plots in the graph layer and (b) selects the source data in the worksheet.
- Hide or show plot elements by clearing or checking the corresponding box in the Object Manager.
- At the graph level, change Object Manager list order.
- At the layer level, change layer order.
- At the plot level, show labels, show or hide plots, reorder plots or create plot groups.
- Within a plot group (labeled as gN), ungroup plots, re-order plots by dragging or by shortcut menu command, change plot type.
- Remove a plot (permanently) from the graph window.
- Access the Plot Details, Layer Contents and Plot Setup dialog boxes.
- Right-click on the layer icon and Reverse Plot Order.
Workbook or Matrix Windows
The Object Manager also supports certain actions for workbooks and matrices:
- List all sheets in the active workbook or matrix.
- Quickly select multiple sheets by pressing CTRL + Up/Down arrow.
- Click a sheet in Object Manager to activate the corresponding sheet in the workbook or matrix.
- Right-click in Object Manager for access to common worksheet operations, including Delete, Insert, Add, Move, Copy, and Duplicate.
- Right-click on a matrix or virtual matrix in Object Manager to Rename.
Origin Child Windows
Active windows -- the window that will be acted upon by graphing and analysis operations -- display a colored frame to make the active window more obvious. You can customize the active window indicator properties (frame color, where the frame shows, frame line style) with "@ System Variables" @AWC (color) and @AWI (style).
- Origin Workbooks: The Origin workbook provides a framework for importing, organizing, analyzing, transforming, and plotting your data. The tabbed workbook contains between 1 and 1,024 sheets. Each sheet may contain more millions of rows and more than 65,000 columns of data. In addition to your data, workbook windows may also store graphs, annotations, column-based functions, scripts and programmable button objects, LabTalk variables and import filters.
- Origin Matrixbooks: Like the worksheet, a matrixsheet is a grid of cells, arranged in rows and columns. The primary difference is that in the worksheet, each column is a dataset and each dataset can be configured to contain various types of data (text, text & numeric, numeric (double), numeric (int), etc). In contrast, the matrix is a single, numerical dataset of Z values, related in the XY plane by row (Y) and column (X) index numbers. The matrixbook contains between 1 and 1,024 sheets. Each sheet can contain multiple matrix objects (up to 65,504).
- Graphs: The graph window is the primary container for your data plots. Origin supports over 100 chart types, chosen specifically for their applications in various technical fields. Each chart is created using a built-in, user-modifiable graph template that can be saved with your custom settings. In addition to data plots, the graph may also contain annotations (text and drawing objects) or button objects that, when triggered, perform some custom graphing or analysis task. Graph windows can be inserted into worksheet cells or "floated" on worksheets (outside the grid) in a workbook window.
- Images: The image window is a window for importing and viewing raster images and videos (.avi, .mov, .mp4).
- Function Graphs: The function graph is a specialized graph window that displays a curve described by a function. The function graph differs from other Origin graphs in that it is not produced from a dataset of discreet values (though you can generate data after plotting).
- Layout Pages: The layout window allows you to combine and arrange graph and worksheet windows and various annotations onto a single "display panel." It is used primarily for creating presentations.
- Excel workbooks. Excel workbooks can be opened or created in Origin. Workbooks can be saved separately or as part of your Origin project file.
- Notes: The Notes window is a text-only window used for recording analysis procedures, making notes to students and colleagues, and cutting and pasting text from other applications.
|Note: For more information on Origin's child windows, see
Help: Origin: Origin Help > Origin Basics > Elements of the Origin Workspace > Creating a Child Window
Help: Origin: Origin Help > Origin Basics > Elements of the Origin Workspace > Basic Child Window Operations
To save an Origin child window independently of the Origin project file:
- Select File: Save Window As... to save active window. File extensions OGW(U), OGG(U), OGM(U) are for Origin Workbook, Graph and Matrix windows, respectively.
- Right-click any window title bar and choose Save as... context menu.
Note: To save an Excel window as an external Excel file, right-click the Excel window title in Origin and choose Save Workbook as... context menu.
Origin 2018 added Unicode (UTF-8) support for Origin projects, child windows and templates. When you save a window file, you will have the option of saving a file with or without a "u" appended to the file type (*.opj or *.opju). If you intend to use the file only in the latest version of Origin, you should choose the Unicode-compliant (appended "u") option as it offers some performance advantages.
To open a worksheet, graph, matrix, or notes window that was saved to a file:
- Select File: Open or click the Open button on the Standard toolbar to open window files.
- Select File: Recent Books, File: Recent Graphs to open recently saved workbook and graph window files.
Note: Origin supports window Short Name, Long Name and Comments and the Short Name must be unique in the Origin project. The window Short Name will be renamed if such a name has already exists in the project. If you open window file in the current project, then save the project, the window will be included in the project.
To open an Excel workbook file:
- Select File: Open Excel menu to open a external Excel file. Or, you can click Import Excel button in the Standard toolbar or select Data: Import from File: Excel (XLS, XLSX, XLSM)... from the main menu to import the Excel file.
Note: If you choose Open Excel, the Excel file is opened as an Excel workbook, in an Excel session that runs inside Origin. In this mode, you have only limited access to Origin features. If you choose Import Excel, the Excel file is imported into an Origin workbook and all Origin features are available.
The Command Window and Script Window
The Command Window can be used to issue LabTalk commands to Origin, to do simple mathematical calculations, or to check the value of LabTalk variables. The Command Window maintains a time-stamped command history that can be carried over from session to session, and intellisense which provides auto-completion features when writing X-function commands.
The Command Window is dockable and has two panels. The left-hand panel displays the command history, while the right-hand panel provides the command line.
The Script Window provides some of the same functionality as the Command Window. It lacks some of the Command Window's features (no intellisense, no command prompt, no command history) but it is handy for running simple LabTalk commands (e.g. changing the value of a LabTalk system variable). The window's Tools menu also opens the LabTalk Variables and Functions dialog box where you can view a list of Origin variables, functions, macros, loose datasets, etc.
To open the Command Window:
- Click the Command Window button on the Standard toolbar. Alternately, select Window: Command Window menu or press ALT+3.
To open the Script Window:
- Select Window: Script Window menu or press SHIFT+ALT+3.
The Formula Bar
The Formula Bar is similar to formula bars in OpenOffice and Excel. While it is not necessary to use the Formula Bar to enter cell expressions, it does offer the advantages of function search, interactive range selection and improved visibility of expressions, particularly of long expressions that exceed cell width.
- With a workbook active, toggle the Formula Bar on or off by clicking View: Formula Bar on the main menu.
- To change font size, change the value of LabTalk system variable @FBFS (default is "130").
For more information, see the Workbooks, Worksheets and Columns chapter.
The Status Bar
The Status Bar is located at the bottom of the Origin workspace. It reports multiple parameters, including:
- Help messages and tool descriptions.
- Statistics on the current workbook, matrix or graph selection.
- Whether the AutoUpdate analysis feature is turned on.
- The name of the System Theme, if any.
- Information pertinent to the active window.
- Angular unit (radians, degrees, or gradians).
- Tool tips for functions listed in the Set Values F(x) menu.
- Notifications from OriginLab, represented by a small red flag to the right side of the Status Bar.
|Note: You can select what shows in the Status Bar by right-clicking on the Bar and selecting (or clearing) items from the context menu. You can copy displayed statistical values by selecting Copy Statistics from the context menu. The copied data are TAB separated between quantity and values, with each key value pair separated by a CRLF delimiter.
Smart Hints and the Smart Hint Log
Smart Hints are triggered by user actions and are intended to give the user help with current task. These hints may appear briefly inside a dialog box, as in this example.
Alternately, Smart Hints may appear in the lower left corner of the Origin workspace, as in this example.
Unless you hover over a Hint, it will quickly fade. You can prevent display of individual Smart Hints by checking the "Do not show this message in the future" box at the bottom of a Smart Hint.
Hints are logged for the current Origin session and can be reviewed by clicking the Smart Hint Log tab, docked at the edge of the Origin workspace (Note that in-dialog Hints are not logged).
To open (and close) the Smart Hint Log window:
- From the Origin menu, select View: Smart Hint Log or press ALT+7.
To prevent a particular Smart Hint from displaying again in the current session, right-click on the hint in the Smart Hint Log window and check Do not show this hint again from the context menu. A message asks you to confirm that you do not want to show or log this message.
To turn off all Smart Hint display in the session, open the Script Window and type the following:
@SHS = 0;
To turn on Smart Hint display (including those were individually hidden), type @SHS = 1, and click Help: Reactivate All Hints.
When you set the value of a system variable using the Script Window, you are altering Origin's behavior for the current session only. To set the value of a system variable across sessions, see this FAQ.
Code Builder. Code Builder provides tools for writing, compiling, and debugging your Origin C functions. Additionally, it can be used for running and debugging Python code.
Origin integrated development environment (IDE) is called
To open Code Builder:
- From the Origin menu, select View: Code Builder or click the Code Builder button on the Standard toolbar or press ALT+4.
- Code Builder can also be opened by clicking Connectivity: Open untitled.py. In this mode, you can paste and run Python code by pressing CTRL + F5.
The Messages Log window shows messages about operations including Output Information, Results and Errors. It displays messages that are not sent to the Script Window or the Command Window.
To open (and close) the Messages Log window:
- From the Origin menu, select View: Messages Log or press ALT+6.
Origin automatically types many analysis and fitting results to the Results Log. Each entry in the Results Log includes a date/time stamp, a window name, a numeric stamp which is the Julian day (see Dates below), the type of analysis performed, and the results.
In most cases, when results are reported to the Results Log, it opens automatically. Manually open (or close) the Results Log by doing one of the following:
- Click the Results Log button on the Standard toolbar. Alternately, from the Origin menu, select View: Results Log or press ALT+2.
Right-click in the Results Log to open a shortcut menu with commands to Copy, Print, Clear..., and View Results.
Float, Dock and Auto-Hide Windows
Project Explorer, Results Log, Command Window and Messages Log. This allows you to customize your Origin workspace so as to maximize utility and save screen space.
There are several Origin windows, which can be floated, docked, auto-hidden, or hidden. These windows include
Numbers in Origin
- Displayed vs. Actual Cell Value: When you import or type your data into a workbook or matrixbook, Origin uses a combination of user-specified settings to determine how to display the data in each cell. What displays is a visual representation of the data value. The actual data values are stored with the full precision allowed by the dataset's Data Type (see table below). When you perform calculations, it is the actual data values that are used and not the displayed values.
- When Contents Exceed Cell Width: Prior to Origin 2020b, if the sequence of characters in a sheet cell exceeded what could be displayed at the current cell (column) width, Origin represented cell contents as a series of pound signs (######). This has changed to mimic MS Excel's worksheet behavior:
- Text strings will not trigger display of pound signs ###### regardless of column width. To view the full string, you must increase column width.
- Numeric values that exceed column width will first be rounded to the nearest decimal and only if that is not sufficient to display the full integer value, will pound signs ###### display in place of the numeric value.
- This rounding of numeric values affects the displayed value only. The internally-stored value does not change.
- To restore the old behavior of displaying pound signs ###### whenever cell contents were not fully displayed, set system variable @WPE = 1. For information on changing the value of a system variable, see this FAQ.
- Missing Values in the Worksheet: When spreadsheet programs first appeared it was recognized that there was a need for a special number that was "not a number" which would - when used in a calculation - generate itself. Origin has such a number and its internal value is -1.23456789E-300. Because Origin recognizes this value as a special value, it can be used to enter a missing value into a worksheet or matrix and it can be used in calculations or scripts (for instance, to return a missing value unless some condition is met). Origin displays missing values in a worksheet or matrixsheet as "--". However, you shouldn't confuse this display (output) with what you enter as a missing value (input).
- Decimal, Scientific and Engineering Notation: You can display workbook or matrixbook data in Decimal:1000, Scientific:1E3, Engineering:1k, and Decimal:1,000 notations. You can manually choose from these data display options but you can also pre-define thresholds for automatic display of scientific notation. By default, these thresholds are set to 6 (upper) and -3 (lower).
- Dates and Times in Origin: Origin's long-time mathematical system for dates and time is based on Astronomical Julian Day Numbers, with a 12 hour offset. This system defines January 1, -4712 (January 1, 4713 BCE), 12 hours Greenwich Mean Time as zero. Recently, two alternate time systems were added: (1) a true Julian Date value (0 is at noon instead of the following midnight) and (2) a "2018" system in which 0 is defined as 00:00 on January 1, 2018. The 2018 system supports greater precision when, for instance, importing data with the Import Wizard (e.g. Custom Date Format supports "MM'/'dd'/'yyyy HH':'mm':'ss'.'######"). Previously, precision was limited to 0.0001 seconds. For more information, see Dates and Times in Origin.
|Note: For more information on numbers, see
Help: Origin: Origin Help > Origin Basics > Elements of the Origin Workspace > Numbers in Origin
Origin workbooks and matrixbooks support the following Data Types:
||Range of Values
±1.7E±308 (15 digits)
±3.4E±38 (7 digits)
-32,768 to 32,767
-2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647
-128 to 127
0 to 255
0 to 65,535
0 to 4,294,967,295
±1.7E±308 (15 digits), each 8 bytes
Topics for Further Reading