Java on Mac OS X Update 1

A few years ago, I posted a Blog titles Java on Mac OS X, which, in part gave a bit of the history of Java on Mac OS X, and listed the current state of affairs at the time.  Since then, Apple has released three new version of OS X, but, interestingly, things have not changed that much, since I posted that Blog.

If you are a Mac user, running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or older, you need to continue using Apple’s Java 6. If you are using OS X 10.7 (Lion) or higher (including OS X 10.11, El Capitan), you have the option of either using Apple’s Java 6, or using the most recent version from Oracle.

Background

Up until OS X 10.6, Apple supplied its own version of Java, which was well integrated with the Mac Operating System, and was installed by default.  Since the release of OS X 10.7, Apple no longer provided Java by default, but allowed Java 6 to be installed and updated.  According to Java for OS X 2015-001, Apple is still providing Java 6 for OS X, up to and including OS X 10.11. The problem with using Apple’s Java, however, is that is a very old version of Java (currently Oracle’s Java is at version 8).  Even though Apple has been providing security updates for it, it is lacking many new enhancements and features found in the current version of Java, and can’t be used to run new Java applications.  There are also no guarantees Apple will continue to support it.

Starting with Java 7, Oracle began providing Java for Mac OS X.  Initially, there were some compatibility issues, using Oracle’s version of Java, but since Oracle released Java 8, these problems have, for the most part, been resolved.

Summary

The following tables summarizes which version of Java can be installed, and are supported, by which version of Mac OS X. I have included the most recent versions, as of the time of writing.

  Apple’s Java 6 (1.6.0_65) Oracle’s Java 8 (8u65)
Mac OS X 1.6 (Snow Leopard) Yes (installed by default) No
Mac OS X 1.7 (Lion) Yes (must be installed manually) Yes (downloaded from Oracle)
Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) Yes (must be installed manually) Yes (downloaded from Oracle)
Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) Yes (must be installed manually) Yes (downloaded from Oracle)
Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) Yes (must be installed manually) Yes (downloaded from Oracle)
Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) Yes (must be installed manually) Yes (downloaded from Oracle)

Installation

If you need to update and install Java 6, go to Java for OS X 2015-001, to get the download, and follow the instructions listed.  To install the most recent version of Java from Oracle, go to Java Downloads for All Operating Systems, and chose the download for Mac OS X.  For help installing Oracle’s Java, follow the instructions on: How do I install Java for my Mac?.  For information on keeping Java up to date, you can read my post: How to keep Java up to date on your computer.

Recommendation

Unless there is a very compelling reason to use Java 6, I would recommend using Java, provided by Oracle.  This ensures you get the latest security updates, and the newest features, and it allows you to run more current Java applications.

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Victor Ewert

Proprietor/Developer at Ewert Technologies
I am Victor Ewert, a Software Developer and owner of Ewert Technologies. In the past I have worked as a Software Tester including working on Software Test automation. My current technology interests include Java, JavaFX, Swift, Privacy and Security, and Mobile App development.

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