Updating Java on Mac OS X and IntelliJ 12

Many blog and Stack Overflow posts are instructing users to set their $JAVA_HOME path within Terminal or by directly adding it to their ~/.bash_profile file. The highly esteemed OJDX (author of robe-and-wizard-hat) has informed me this is not the correct solution.

The reason being, you may need to use multiple versions of Java on your machine for different projects. Setting the $JAVA_HOME path will cause issues for projects using different versions of Java. There is a reason in Mac OS X 10.7+ this path variable is not set and will show empty resuts when checking within Terminal.

Upgrading Java on a Mac

If you’re developing on your Mac you need to install the JDK, download the version you need directly from Oracle. In my case, I was upgrading from Java 6 to 7, and JDK 1.6 to 1.7.

Running the DMG file quickly installs everything you need Java Development.

Updating Java Version within IntelliJ 12

You will only need to do this if your current project needs a different language and JDK version.

If you’re using IntelliJ for a Java project you likely need to modify your Maven Runner settings. Within the Maven Settings project settings, you will want to change the JRE used with the Maven > Runner. It will give you a list of options (Internal JDK, Use JAVA_HOME, Use Project JDK, etc) but the new JDK version you just installed is not available.

To add the new version of the JDK in IntelliJ go to File > Project Structure > Platform Settings > SDKs. Click the + icon in the middle pane and navigate to the Home folder of the new JDK you installed. Likely, it’s in /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines which is where it was for me, but it could also be in your System directory.

Project SDK

This will now give us a new option in our Maven Runner JRE settings, but I wanted to change the default Project JDK within the Runner settings to 1.7 and also needed to upgrade the Language Level to 7.

To do this add the new JDK within the Project SDK. Again located in File > Project Structure but in Project Settings > Project. Change the Project SDK to 1.7 within the dropdown. I also changed the language level to 7.0, in the dropdown below.

Click OK. Go back to your Maven > Runner settings. The JRE dropdown should now include the option Use Project SDK( version you added). Click OK. Build your project and you should be all set. You should now see the new Java version path displayed immediately on top of the Run console whenever you run Maven.


Check to See if You Have JDK

In Terminal type:


Expect to see something like this:

Checking Your Version of Java

In Terminal type:

java -version

Expect to see something like this:

java version "1.7.0_11"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.7.0_11-b21)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 23.6-b04, mixed mode)

In Terminal type:


Expect to see something like this:

<!-- In Mac OS X 10.7+ you should see a blank line -->
Set Your $JAVA_HOME Path in Terminal

In Terminal type:

export JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/Home

This sets the path only for the session and could be set to a directoy other than that listed above. Open or create a ~./.bash_profile file and enter the path into the file. Then restart your machine for it to take affect.

<!-- within .bash_profile -->


Let me know if you have trouble setting your Java or JDK version for IntelliJ. It may be of help in the future to myself and others.