Downloads, updates and issues (Note: use the downloads at your own risk- some may not work on older copies. Both PC and Mac users need an unzipping application for downloads. Remember to make appropriate files 'read only.')

Current Polychem version at 17 December 2011: v8.5.2

Issue with Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and onwards. These mac systems don't include a piece of software called Rosetta that supports this software (and many others!). So at present this software will not automatically run on macs with these systems. Unfortunately Polychem uses some third-party plugins that mean an upgrade is not straightforward. For example, features such as cross-platform printing will be compromised. Even with an upgrade, the newer version would not work on Macs more than a few years old.

However, computers running Mac OS 10.6 can install Rosetta from the optional installs on the OSX installation disk. Computers using Mac OS 10.7 (Lion) cannot run Polychem at all unless the disk is partitioned with 10.6 (Rosetta installed), and the computer started from this partition.

18 May 2011: v8.5.2

More bug fixes! There is a bug, only just discovered, that has affected the "Atomic structure" topic for goodness knows how long! It stops the text of this topic from displaying. Owners of the software that have this problem can download the inspection copy, then contact for a free update. There is also a minor issue with v8.5.1 copies only. The first time the superscript version of the text is used there is a (non fatal) error.

14 April 2011: v8.5.0

Some downloads of v8.4.8 and v8.5.0 before 14th April were missing the POLYGRPH.dxr file. This provides the graphing function for a number of sections, such as titration curves. It is available here for download, This copy also fixes an uncommon, but annoying bug that causes a crash if a zero is entered in the reaction rates graph. This bug exists in all previous copies.

5 April 2011: v8.5.0

Full screen version. On startup, Polychem changes the computer's screen resolution to display at full screen. As the new file may cause unpredictable results on some monitors, this version is supplied as an alternative along with the original, It should also work on many older versions. Replace your POLYCHEM file with the one in this download to try it.


20 January 2011: v8.4.8

Download the entire program via Internet for a five day inspection period


17 January 2009: v8.4.1

v8.4 has improved record keeping as well as some extra topics. It fixes a few minor issues with the games and also makes it easier for Windows users to enter their name at the start!


18 April 2006: v8.3.0


Version 8.3 has mainly cosmetic changes. Some graphics are updated with higher quality versions, and the software is not so discriminating of different screen sizes.


4 October 2005: v8.2.0


Important: there is a filename issue (with the Mac version only) running under OS10.4 (Tiger). The suffix on the file that starts the software, POLYCHEM.mac, needs to be changed. The '.mac' suffix was originally used to simply differentiate the Mac version from the PC-exe one. However, OS10.4 treats a .mac suffix differently and will not recognize the program as an application and will try to open it with another program such as QuickTime. To use the software on a Mac running 10.4, it must be copied to other media and the .mac changed - to just about anything really, but all Mac copies from 8.2.0 will be entitled POLYCHEM.OSX. Be sure to change the name using File>Get Info>Name&extension. Simply changing/deleting the file extension on the screen may only hide the extension! Recopy back to another CD as needed.

Version 8 also includes the new 3D-CSI activity as well as new games.

Free upgrade for games module. This upgrade should work on many version 7 copies and updates the games to 8.2.0 level. There are two files to replace, POLYLARG and POLYGAME (5MB).

Download upgrade


21 July 2005: v7.8.0


Polymere v1.0 release. This 3D game is incorporated within Polychem.


8 June 2005: v7.7.0


Beta version of Polymere module released. This 'adventure' game involves solving chemistry problems in a 3D world in order to advance to new levels .


13 April 2005: v7.5.9


New protein synthesis game to help students understand transcription and translation as part of carbon chemistry. Capability to install the new 3D chemistry game when completed.


23 August 2004: v7.3.3


There is a problem with data recording (assignments, discussion room etc.) - with version 7.3.2 only. Download the ZIP file (1.8mB) and replace the POLYLARG.DXR file. Note that this replacement also fixes a minor issue with 7.3.1 (PC only) where users can resize the larger 1024 window by dragging.

Download replacement POLYLARG.ZIP

July 2004 (v7.3.0)

100s of student hours have got rid of outstanding issues and the software is better than ever - new and improved games - development of 3D activities. Site license upgrade $95. Simply send a check, delivery within 14 days as before.

Version 7: 30 March 2004

Still in beta-testing, version 7.0 is a major upgrade in terms of the development platform. While similar in content to version 6.7.2, version 7 sets a new base for future development. Version 7 runs natively on XP and Mac OSX. It will not run on the earlier Mac OS7-9 platforms or on computers that have less than 128mB RAM. Version 6.7.1 is avalable on request if desired. There will be no more upgrades/downloads available for version 6.

Current version of Polychem as at 28 August 2003: v6.6.3

August 2003 (v6.6.0)
Updated videos. Updated chemdraw file with questions involving ball and stick models (<50k).

Download replacement POLYDRAW.DXR

June 2003 (v6.4.5)
Incorrect answer in atomic structure short answer questions. Substitute file SAQUS (150k).

Download replacement SAQUS.DXR

May 2003
Updated games. Substitute file POLYGAME (300k).

Download replacement POLYGAME.ZIP

April 2003
Problem with some versions of Windows 2000 and XP for some Polychem copies purchased prior to April 03. An error on startup says some files are not valid Windows' images or there is a problem with temporary files (The software runs normally after this). Dirty solution: fix individual machines by copying the Xtras folder into the the directory shown on the error message. (It may be neccessary to show hidden files using the folder tools in the control panels). Best solution: download the new Polychem.exe file and replace the one provided on the CD. Check it works and burn a new CD if required.

Download replacement exe

August 2002 (v6.6.0)
800 x 600 as well as 640 x 480 resolution.

January 2002
Update for periodic table. Includes elemental data and should work on all versions. Replaces file PTABLE. (including the October 2001 update - 1.5M).
Download upgrade

October 2001.
Compatibility note: There may be problems playing direct from the CD under Mac OS 10.0 and the Mac needs to be started using OS9 (select this system from the system preferences). Copying the CD to hard disk enables OS10.0 to run the software in the classic environment. Using the software under a 'thin client' network approach also is a problem. OS 10.2 or later does not have this problem.

July 2001
Update for PROCESS includes AAS simulation. Other improvements for matching game. Improved glossary on dialog boxes. (May not work on older versions)
Download upgrade

December 2000
Update to include simulations of Rutherford's and Millikan's experiments along with others. Replace the file PROCESS with this one.
Download upgrade

New for 1999!
Upgrade the drawing module (chemdraw) to now contain a ball and stick molecular construction set. Note that you must have the polychem software to use this module. There are four files, three video that must be put in the movies folder (directory), and one CHEMDRAW file that should replace the existing one in the same folder as the main Polychem program.
Download PC upgrade

Updates for 1998

3rd January 1998
This upgrade includes a multichoice template so that teachers can include their own questions, although the latest version is accessed directly from the main Polychem program, for the upgrade it can be accessed from the exam questions. There is also an upgrade of the chemical processes as well as other improvements. Note that this upgrade incorporates the above patches.
Provided you have copied the software onto a hard disk or server, place the seven files in the Polychem folder. Some are new while others are replacements. Please note that the upgrade is intended to work on all copies sold, but because of variations due to individual pressings at different times I cannot give an absolute guarantee, you'll just have to try it and see.

Download Mac upgrade 98

Download PC upgrade 98

20 may 1998
Fixed periodic table, replace the item SECOND.CST with this one

1st October 1997
Addition of sample experiment sheets
Fixing of problem for mac users who copy and run unlocked version on hard drive for second and subsquent times. error: where is shared.cst? (Users for whom this is an issue can download patch and place the four files in the same folder as the polychem programme)

7th November 1997
Fixing of problem when students enter units on some questions, computer gives answer as correct. Patch applicable for purchasers after 15 October. Place in same directory as 'Polychem'.
Windows patch

Mac patch




Polychem arose in 1992 from a general dissatisfaction with teaching by simply transmitting knowledge. Because of the author's interest in chemistry, education and computers, a small CAI computer program was developed to support students' learning with a database of calculations. These formed the basis of what are now the 'Drawer' questions. The program was developed over the following years (in the weekends before class!) and was first developed for Macs using HyperCard with the original name of 'Textbook'. As development continued there were requests for purchase. The first release (version 2.4) was in 1993.

The name was changed to 'Polychem' later in the 1990s to get away from the generic 'Textbook' and was ported to Macromedia Director in order to run on PCs as well as mac (V3). Version 4 provided the blueprint for the software as it is now and since then there have been 1000s of hours of research and development in order to make it the comprehensive program that exists now - as current users will know, there is nothing like it world-wide. Current development focuses on interactive aspects that engage learners. In particular, simulations, games and interactive 3D.

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