[java] How do I install Java on Mac OSX allowing version switching?

I want to install OpenJDK Java on Mac OSX and have it work alongside other JDK's since it is a newer release. Currently, I downloaded the tar.gz and placed it in my path but that is hard to maintain.

The only other install I found that do more things automatically is the install via Homebrew cask. It looks like only the current version too:

brew cask info java

Shows:

java: 13,33:5b8a42f3905b406298b72d750b6919f6
https://openjdk.java.net/

So I can install it from there, but then what? Am I stuck only with the new version?

This question is related to java macos java-15

The answer is


IMHO, There is no need to install all the additional applications/packages.

Check available versions using the command:

> /usr/libexec/java_home -V
Matching Java Virtual Machines (8):
    11, x86_64: "Java SE 11-ea" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-11.jdk/Contents/Home
    10.0.2, x86_64: "Java SE 10.0.2"    /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-10.0.2.jdk/Contents/Home
    9.0.1, x86_64:  "Java SE 9.0.1" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-9.0.1.jdk/Contents/Home
    1.8.0_181-zulu-8.31.0.1, x86_64:    "Zulu 8"    /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/zulu-8.jdk/Contents/Home
    1.8.0_151, x86_64:  "Java SE 8" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.8.0_151.jdk/Contents/Home
    1.7.0_80, x86_64:   "Java SE 7" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_80.jdk/Contents/Home
    1.6.0_65-b14-468, x86_64:   "Java SE 6" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk/Contents/Home
    1.6.0_65-b14-468, i386: "Java SE 6" /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/1.6.0.jdk/Contents/Home

Now if you want to pick Azul JDK 8 in the above list, and NOT Oracle's Java SE 8, invoke the command as below:

> /usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.8.0_181
/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/zulu-8.jdk/Contents/Home

To pick Oracle's Java SE 8 you would invoke the command:

> /usr/libexec/java_home -v 1.8.0_151
/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.8.0_151.jdk/Contents/Home

As you can see the version number provided shall be the unique set of strings: 1.8.0_181 vs 1.8.0_151


Manually switching system-default version without 3rd party tools:

As detailed in this older answer, on macOS /usr/bin/java is a wrapper tool that will use Java version pointed by JAVA_HOME or if that variable is not set will look for Java installations under /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/ and will use the one with highest version. It determines versions by looking at Contents/Info.plist under each package.

Armed with this knowledge you can:

  • control which version the system will use by renaming Info.plist in versions you don't want to use as default (that file is not used by the actual Java runtime itself).
  • control which version to use for specific tasks by setting $JAVA_HOME

I've just verified this is still true with OpenJDK & Mojave.

On a brand new system, there is no Java version installed:

$ java -version
No Java runtime present, requesting install.

Cancel this, download OpenJDK 11 & 12ea on https://jdk.java.net ; install OpenJDK11:

$ cd /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/
$ sudo tar xzf ~/Downloads/openjdk-11.0.1_osx-x64_bin.tar.gz

System java is now 11:

$ java -version
openjdk version "11.0.1" 2018-10-16
[...]

Install OpenJDK12 (early access at the moment):

$ sudo tar xzf ~/Downloads/openjdk-12-ea+17_osx-x64_bin.tar.gz 

System java is now 12:

$ java -version
openjdk version "12-ea" 2019-03-19
[...]

Now let's "hide" OpenJDK 12 from system java wrapper:

$ cd jdk-12.jdk/Contents/
$ sudo mv Info.plist Info.plist.disabled

System java is back to 11:

$ java -version
openjdk version "11.0.1" 2018-10-16
[...]

And you can still use version 12 punctually by manually setting JAVA_HOME:

$ export JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-12.jdk/Contents/Home
$ java -version
openjdk version "12-ea" 2019-03-19
[...]

To stay with a specific major release, activate the AdoptOpenJDK tap with brew tap and then install the desired version with brew cask install:

$ brew tap AdoptOpenJDK/openjdk
$ brew cask install <version>

To install AdoptOpenJDK 14 with HotSpot, run:

$ brew tap AdoptOpenJDK/openjdk
$ brew cask install adoptopenjdk14

With Homebrew and jenv:

Assumption: Mac machine and you already have installed homebrew.

Install cask:

$ brew tap caskroom/cask
$ brew tap caskroom/versions

To install latest java:

$ brew cask install java

To install java 8:

$ brew cask install java8

To install java 9:

$ brew cask install java9

If you want to install/manage multiple version then you can use 'jenv':

Install and configure jenv:

$ brew install jenv
$ echo 'export PATH="$HOME/.jenv/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ echo 'eval "$(jenv init -)"' >> ~/.bash_profile
$ source ~/.bash_profile

Add the installed java to jenv:

$ jenv add /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.8.0_202.jdk/Contents/Home
$ jenv add /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.11.0_2.jdk/Contents/Home

To see all the installed java:

$ jenv versions

Above command will give the list of installed java:

* system (set by /Users/lyncean/.jenv/version)
1.8
1.8.0.202-ea
oracle64-1.8.0.202-ea

Configure the java version which you want to use:

$ jenv global oracle64-1.6.0.39

If you have multiple versions installed on your machine, add the following in bash profile:

export JAVA_HOME_7=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v1.7)

export JAVA_HOME_8=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v1.8)

export JAVA_HOME_9=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v9)

And add the following aliases:

alias java7='export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_HOME_7'

alias java8='export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_HOME_8'

alias java9='export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_HOME_9'

And can switch to required version by using the alias:

In terminal:

~ >> java7 export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_7_HOME


You can use asdf to install and switch between multiple java versions. It has plugins for other languages as well. You can install asdf with Homebrew

brew install asdf

When asdf is configured, install java plugin

asdf plugin-add java

Pick a version to install

asdf list-all java

For example to install and configure adoptopenjdk8

asdf install java adoptopenjdk-8.0.272+10
asdf global java adoptopenjdk-8.0.272+10

And finally if needed, configure JAVA_HOME for your shell. Just add to your shell init script such as ~/.zshrc in case of zsh:

. ~/.asdf/plugins/java/set-java-home.zsh

This answer extends on Jayson's excellent answer with some more opinionated guidance on the best approach for your use case:

  • SDKMAN is the best solution for most users. It's easy to use, doesn't have any weird configuration, and makes managing multiple versions for lots of other Java ecosystem projects easy as well.
  • Downloading Java versions via Homebrew and switching versions via jenv is a good option, but requires more work. For example, the Homebrew commands in this highly upvoted answer don't work anymore. jenv is slightly harder to setup, the plugins aren't well documented, and the README says the project is looking for a new maintainer. jenv is still a great project, solves the job, and the community should be thankful for the wonderful contribution. SDKMAN is just the better option cause it's so great.
  • Jabba is written is a multi-platform solution that provides the same interface on Mac, Windows, and PC (it's written in Go and that's what allows it to be multiplatform). If you care about a multiplatform solution, this is a huge selling point. If you only care about running multiple versions on your Mac, then you don't need a multiplatform solution. SDKMAN's support for tens of popular SDKs is what you're missing out on if you go with Jabba.

Managing versions manually is probably the worst option. If you decide to manually switch versions, you can use this Bash code instead of Jayson's verbose code (code snippet from the homebrew-openjdk README:

jdk() {
        version=$1
        export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v"$version");
        java -version
 }

Jayson's answer provides the basic commands for SDKMAN and jenv. Here's more info on SDKMAN and more info on jenv if you'd like more background on these tools.


Another alternative is using SDKMAN! See https://wimdeblauwe.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/switching-between-jdk-8-and-11-using-sdkman/

First install SDKMAN: https://sdkman.io/install and then...

  1. Install Oracle JDK 8 with: sdk install java 8.0.181-oracle
  2. Install OpenJDK 11 with: sdk install java 11.0.0-open

To switch:

  • Switch to JDK 8 with sdk use java 8.0.181-oracle
  • Switch to JDK 11 with sdk use java 11.0.0-open

To set a default:

  • Default to JDK 8 with sdk default java 8.0.181-oracle
  • Default to JDK 11 with sdk default java 11.0.0-open

This is how I did it.

Step 1: Install Java 11

You can download Java 11 dmg for mac from here: https://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/jdk11-downloads-5066655.html

Step 2: After installation of Java 11. Confirm installation of all versions. Type the following command in your terminal.

/usr/libexec/java_home -V

Step 3: Edit .bash_profile

sudo nano ~/.bash_profile

Step 4: Add 11.0.1 as default. (Add below line to bash_profile file).

export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v 11.0.1)

to switch to any version

export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v X.X.X)

Now Press CTRL+X to exit the bash. Press 'Y' to save changes.

Step 5: Reload bash_profile

source ~/.bash_profile

Step 6: Confirm current version of Java

java -version

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