Computer Setup

GenChem Main Page | Materials for Laboratory | Learn@UW | More for Students
More for Staff | Contact GenChem Staff | UW Madison Home Page

Computer set up information

In order to use the electronic resources in our courses, you need access to a computer with specific software installed and Internet access.

The following outlines the requirements. Links are provided at the end of this document to download sites for some of the required software.

Computers in the chemistry computer lab (1375 Chemistry) should be set up correctly.

Operating system

PC: Windows XP or later, or

Mac: OS X or later. (However, some programs are Windows only.)

Internet access

You need access to the Internet, preferably via UW-Madison. In order to access restricted material from off-campus, you will need to install and use WiscVPN.


In general, you need to have both Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) version 8.0 or higher and Firefox version 15.0 or higher installed on your computer. Unsupported browsers may or may not work on all resources.

Browser settings

You need to enable Java, JavaScript, stylesheets, and cookies, and set the cache to reload every time. The following are typical settings.

For Firefox

Select Tools / Options.
Select Content; make sure that Enable JavaScript is selected.
Select General / Manage add-ons; make sure that Java is enabled.
Select Privacy and choose Use custom settings for history; make sure cookies are accepted and the cache is set to clear each time.
Click OK.

For Internet Explorer 8.0 and higher (PC)

Select Tools / Internet Options
Select the Advanced tab.
Make sure the Java console enabled and Java logging enabled boxes are selected.
Select the General tab.
Select Settings from Browsing history.
Select the Every Visit to the Page or Automatically radio button.
Click OK.
Restart your computer if you made any changes.

For Internet Explorer 8.0 and higher (Mac)

Select Edit / Preferences.
Under Web Browser, Select Web Content.
Make sure Show style sheets, Enable scripting, Enable plugins, and Enable ActiveX are selected.
Select Java
Make sure Enable Java is selected.
Select Advanced
Make sure Update pages: Always is selected.
Under Receiving Files, select Cookies
Make sure When receiving cookies: Never ask is selected
Click OK


Two plug-ins are required and must be installed in all browser Plugins folders. (See the download links below if you need to get any of these.)

  • Apple QuickTime (latest version) - to view video and hear audio;
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (latest version) - view, navigate, and print PDF files 

Word processor and spreadsheet

A word processor and spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are essential.


In order to view the Jmol interactive molecules in the Biomolecules Tutorial and some prelab quizzes, you must have Java installed and set up correctly.  Also, we strongly recommend using Firefox as your browser; some browsers no longer support Java.  Follow these instructions:

  1. If you don't have Java installed, go to and install it.
  2. Find your Java control panel (for PCs, go to your Control Panel and click on Java; for Macs, go to the Apple menu, choose System Preferences and find Java at the bottom).
  3. Go to the Security tab and add both (for Chem 109) and to the Exceptions list.  Java will complain about the lack of "https" for the Chemistry department site, but you can click "Continue".
  4. Say OK and close the Java control panel.
  5. If Firefox is open, close it completely.
  6. Open Firefox and clear the cache (find the menu that looks like 3 horizontal bars in the upper right corner, then choose History >> Clear recent history).
  7. Now when you view a page with a Jmol applet, you will get a security alert the first time.  Confirm that you do want to run the applet (choose "Allow and remember" if that's an option).

Where to get the software

The browsers and plugin installers above are available on the web or from DoIT. Choose an appropriate installer for your system and follow the installation instructions.

Browsers may also be downloaded directly from Microsoft or from Mozilla (Firefox). After downloading an installer program, be sure to install it!
Link to Microsoft | Link to Firefox

QuickTime may be downloaded directly from Apple Computer. After downloading the installer program, be sure to install it!
Link to Apple Computer

If you have installed QuickTime, but are still having problems, go to the following link to verify your installation:
Link to Apple QuickTime check

Acrobat Reader may be downloaded directly from Adobe Software. After downloading the installer program, be sure to install it!
Link to Adobe Software

If you are off-campus, you will need to use WiscVPN in order to access any restricted material. Some of the restricted materials include Window on the Solid State and the Chemical Logic exercise.
Link to download WiscVPN (GlobalProtect)

Microsoft Word and Excel are available at substantial discounts for students via DoIT. Use the link below to go to the DoIT web site.
Link to DoIT

Help with installation problems

If you have problems installing any of the above software or plugins, contact the DoIT HelpDesk at the phone or website below for assistance.

Link to HelpDesk website
Or phone: 264-HELP