Stats Work

Get [M]oving with Mplus – part 1: The Painful Basics

When you open Mplus for the first time (see below), it kind of looks like something you would retrieve from a floppy disk. I wasn’t kidding when I said on the Mplus home page that it leaves a lot to the imagination! But paraphrasing the Canadian icon Steve Smith (aka Red Green), “If they don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” And well, Mplus sure is handy.

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.41.12

To get started, I’ll quickly review the plethora of icons on the screen above.  As you’ll notice, it’s all quite intuitive.

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.52.27New: Opens up a blank syntax window (you’ll see what this looks like shortly)

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.53.05Open: You can open inputs, outputs, and your data files with this

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.53.17Save: Mplus requires you to save your syntax before running analysis, so you use this quite a bit

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.01.01Cut: removes syntax but makes a copy of it (makes it easy to move things around)

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.53.28Copy: copies syntax (e.g., if you want to make a copy of your syntax in a new window)

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.53.36Paste: Pastes stuff that you cut or copied

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.53.46Print: I’ve never printed anything, but I assume it prints your selected syntax window

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 09.53.54Run: The mission launch button – selecting this runs your syntax

And that’s basically it for the button options. There is only one more useful thing I’d like to show you for the real basics. When running several analyses with separate syntax windows, the working space in Mplus can get pretty crowded quickly. Fortunately, there are some handy view options.

Now imagine you had the following workspace (imagine these syntax windows were full of beautiful syntax and lovely results because you’re a stellar researcher):

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.35.50

Messy, isn’t it? And that’s just four windows. On a laptop that could be all it takes to get you a little overwhelmed. The first step to getting your life back on track is selecting the View option in the command list.

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.36.14

Selecting Cascade Frames does the following:

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.36.54

Selecting Tile Frames Vertically

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.37.12

Selecting Tile Frames Horizontally

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 10.37.31


And that’s about it for the real basics. All quite straightforward and intuitive – fortunately a trend in Mplus that goes right into the next topics of writing syntax and running analyses.

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