How to manage multiple Java JDK versions on macOS X

marcjulian profile image Marc Stammerjohann Originally published at notiz.dev on ・2 min read

Here is a quick tip on how to install multiple Java JDK versions (8, …, 11, …, 14 etc.) on macOS X and how to switch between them for your applications.

Installing Java JDK via Homebrew

Install multiple Java JDK versions using Homebrew. To install Homebrew run:

/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install.sh)"

Now install the Java JDK version 11 or above using brew cask:

brew cask install java<version>

# latest version
brew cask install java

# LTS 11
brew cask install java11

Note JDK versions prior 11 ( 8 , 9 and 10 ) are no longer supported.

AdoptOpenJDK provides older Java versions. To install the Java JDKs from AdoptOpenJDK:

# install from third party repository
brew tap adoptopenjdk/openjdk

brew cask install adoptopenjdk<version>

# Java 8
brew cask install adoptopenjdk8

# Java 9
brew cask install adoptopenjdk9

# Java 10
brew cask install adoptopenjdk10

Switch Java JDK via alias

Setup your JAVA_HOME path in your .zshrc or .bash_profile for your primary Java version and add an export for each installed Java version.

export JAVA_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v14)

export JAVA_8_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v1.8)
export JAVA_11_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v11)
export JAVA_14_HOME=$(/usr/libexec/java_home -v14)

To check the default Java version and installation path:

java -version # 14

Add an alias to your .zshrc or .bash_profile for each installed Java version. The alias exports JAVA_HOME with the selected JAVA_VERSION_HOME.

alias java8='export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_8_HOME'
alias java11='export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_11_HOME'
alias java14='export JAVA_HOME=$JAVA_14_HOME'

Now, to switch between the Java versions, enter an alias java8 in your terminal. Execute java -version to verify that you are now using the correct Java version.

Note : Alias only changes the Java version in the used terminal instance

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Marc Stammerjohann


Full Stack Software Developer - Freelancer creating apps with TypeScript 💙. Find me on notiz.dev


notiz.dev is created by Gary Großgarten and Marc Stammerjohann. We love to share our experiences and findings working with Angular, NestJS, Web Components and more. 👀


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Hey Marc, you should check out SDKMAN!, you can easily switch between (but also install and uninstall) different Java (and Scala, and Gradle, and Kotlin, Groovy, sbt, Spring Boot, ...) versions using SDKMAN! It's seriously amazing, and really easy to use.


Hi Andrew, thanks for the tip! I'll it try out!


Thank you for this recent tutorial on how to manage Java versions with Homebrew. Most other guides I tried to follow are written for outdated brew functionality.

Quick warning: This does NOT seem to work if you have Java installed in some way through conda. I had openjdk installed in my conda base env (it was required by another program installed with conda) and I could not get this solution to work until I uninstalled openjdk from my active conda env or switched to an env without openjdk installed. I'm sure it was a problem with my PATH, but since I couldn't figure it out after a while, I just made a new conda env with the tools that automatically install their own openjdk and uninstalled openjdk from my active conda base env. Everything seems to work great now, thanks a ton!

Edit: I seem to be running into a problem where the command export JAVA_HOME=[...] in my ~/.zshrc doesn't seem to actually set JAVA_HOME. E.g. as soon as I start a new shell window and type echo $JAVA_HOME, nothing appears and upon inspection of variables listed by env, JAVA_HOME does not appear. Interestingly, if I type java -version, it does show my adoptopenjdk14 as the current version even though the variable JAVA_HOME doesn't exist. Any idea why? It does set itself when I run one of the aliases, but that requires manually running the alias.

Edit 2: I found the problem: It was because I still had some code in my .zshrc from trying a previous solution.