Memory Alpha explains how a holodeck works as follows:

A typical holodeck consisted of a room equipped with a hologrid containing omnidirectional holographic diodes, enabling holographic projections through the manipulation of photons contained within force fields.

If this is the case, we can generate sights, feeling objects and sounds are easily to make. My question is, though, can a smell or taste also be generated on a holodeck?

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    Both smell and taste are just particles touching your particles (very simplefied). That means when you smell poo, it's actually poo particles entering you and touching your receptors. – Petersaber Jun 26 '15 at 10:12
  • @Petersaber Precisely; but through the manipulation of photons and force fields, that doesn't make those molecules, hence the question! – Often Right Jun 26 '15 at 10:13
  • an actual, legit working matter is created. Those poo molecules are there. If a holographic bullet can truly kill you, then why wouldn't you be able to taste it? It's particles all the way down (and turtles) – Petersaber Jun 26 '15 at 10:15
  • @Petersaber yes, which is what I say in my answer ;) – Often Right Jun 26 '15 at 10:16
  • oh YOU've answered your own question o_O didn't notice that – Petersaber Jun 26 '15 at 10:24

Yes, smells can be created

The Holodeck does work via photon manipulation and force fields, but it also uses actual matter:

A holodeck combines elements of transporter technology with that of replicators, by generating actual matter, as well as projecting force fields to give the objects the illusion of substance.


Replication was only used for object which individuals would actually come into contact with:

In the early 24th century, matter replication was primarily used for objects and characters that would be in direct contact with the occupants which gave them an extreme sense of realism. Water, for example, would feel like actual water because on some level, it was, and it could create experiences like odors.


In this way, not only can smells be created, but items can have a taste as well, because they are replicated matter.

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    Interesting...so if you had the holodeck re-create a restaurant, then it would use the replicators to actually create any food the occupants ate? I want one. – Liesmith Jun 26 '15 at 9:10
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    <nitpicking>Transporters and replicators both have the "transporter effect" (glittering) when in action. How does the holodeck suppress this optical effect on de-/materialization and why is it not used on the replicators and transporters?</nitpicking> – Hothie Jun 26 '15 at 9:32
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    @Hothie interesting point. Considering the holodeck has the capacity to manipulate photons, it should be possible to suppress this 'glittering effect' – Often Right Jun 26 '15 at 10:06
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    @Daft don't judge me. – Liesmith Jun 26 '15 at 10:29
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    To do what ST:TNG and later shows demonstrate in their holodecks would require enormous quantities of energy - even more than they throw around in battles with other starships. It's always been a cringe worthy plot point IMO. – Jim2B Jun 26 '15 at 14:39

Picard, in the TNG episode "The Big Goodbye" confirmed that the holodeck can indeed create odours:

PICARD: From that window, I could see an entire, er

DATA: City block.

PICARD: That's right. Sounds, Smells.

CRUSHER: You make it sound so real.

PICARD: That's how it felt.

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