Java on Mac OS X

This is a follow up to another Blog post I made:

How does Java Security Flaw affect Desktop Applications

Java has been in the news a lot in the past few days, and not for good reasons. A major security flaw was found in the Java browser plugin, and a fix has subsequently been released by Oracle. This has left a lot of computer users wondering whether they have Java on their computer, which version they might have, and which version should they have.

For Windows users, this is fairly straight forward, the best recommendation, is to install the most recent version of Java (currently Java 7, update 11) which can be downloaded from Oracle’s Java Downloads for all Operating Systems.

For users of Mac OS X, things get more confusing. Most of this confusion comes from Apple’s transitioning away from being responsible for providing and distributing Java with its Operating System. Prior to Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion), Java was automatically included with the OS, and updates to it, were included in the regular OS updates. Apple’s transitions coincides with the release of Java 7, which is currently the most recent major version of Java. To help makes sense of this, I’ve listed the latest Mac OS X operating systems, including which versions of Java can run on it, and how to update it. I’m only going back as for as 10.6 Snow Leopard as over 90% of users are using at least this version.

OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

If you run Snow Leopard, things are pretty straight forward. Apple still supports and updates Java for this version, with the latest Java version available as part of Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 11, which inclues Java 6, Update 37 (Java SE 1.6.0_37). The only problem here is that if you need to run any applications that require Java 7, you are out of luck, since Java 7 is only supported for OS X 10.7 and up.

OS X (10.7 Lion)

This is the first OS, not to include Java from Apple by default. Apple’s Java 6 can, however, be downloaded and installed using the Java; you can read my post Installing Java on Mac OS/X Lion for details. If you are fine with Java 6, then you should update it using Java for OS X 202-006, which will update your Java to Java 6, Update 37 (Java SE 1.6.0_37).

If you want to upgrade to Java 7, you can. Oracle now releases updated versions of Java 7, that are compatible with both Lion and Mountain Lion. The most recent version from Oracle is Java 7, update 11, and can be downloaded from Oracle’s Java Downloads for All Operating Systems. The requirements for Java 7 are Mac 10.7.3 and above. For instructions on installing Java 7 see Oracle’s How do I install Java on my Mac?

OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

Mountain Lion is pretty much the same as Lion when it comes to Java. Apple still supplies Java 6 (latest update is Java 6, update 37), and Oracle provides Java 7 (latest update is Java 7, update 11). See the section above for the links to the download and instruction pages on Oracle’s Java Website.


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

 Java 6 (update 37)Java 7 (update 11)
Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)Yes (installed by default)No
Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)Yes (must be installed manually)Yes
Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)Yes (must be installed manually)Yes

In light of the security flaws found, it is important to update your version of Java to the most recent version available.

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