How to install and uninstall Java on macOS and why you need it

How to install Java on the Apple Mac running macOS and how to uninstall it. Java is needed for free apps that analyse your website or blog for SEO and help you optimise it for Google and Bing

Java is a modern programming language that is needed to to run certain programs on the Apple Mac. Here’s how to install and uninstall Java, and essential apps for bloggers and website owners.

Java applications are different to macOS applications because they are built using a different development system and programming language to the ones usually used for Apple apps.

Why use a different app development system? One of the benefits of Java for the programmer is that it is easy to create applications that run on different computers, such as Apple Mac, Windows PCs and Linux PCs.

The original aim of Java was to enable one Java app to run anywhere and on anything. It did not turn out to be quite that simple, but it is easier than creating apps from scratch on each computer system.

An application created using Java requires the Java runtime system to be present on the computer and it will not work if it isn’t installed. The Java runtime system is available for the Apple Mac and Windows PCs, and it is free to download and install.

Once installed, you can then install and run Java applications.

Java powers everything

Java is hugely important and it powers an enormous number of devices and services like Twitter, Netflix and an amazing 15 billion devices.

It was common on desktop and laptop computers at one time, but old versions had security flaws that caused problems and its popularity has declined in recent years. However, old flaws have been fixed and provided you have the latest version of Java and only the latest, it is fine.

Java is not bundled with macOS partly because of past security problems with old versions, but also because not everyone needs it. Some people do and some don’t, so it is optional.

Who needs Java?

Java applications for the Mac are not common, but there are a few. If you have a blog or a website and want to analyse your website or a competitor’s, there are some very good tools written in Java, such as these:

  • Rank Tracker - keyword research and analysis
  • Website Auditor - On-page analysis and optimisation
  • SEO SpyGlass - Link research, cleanup, and competitive analysis
  • LinkAssistant - Link building
  • Screaming Frog - On site SEO analysis for websites

The first four come as a bundle and if you download one, there is an option in the installer to install them all. You don’t need to download and install each one separately.

Get SEO SpyGlass and you’ll get them all.

SEO SpyGlass running on the Apple Mac in macOS Sierra

Screaming Frog is a very popular tool that analyses all the pages on your site so you can see problems like missing meta information, missing H1 tags, duplicate or no page titles and so on.

Screaming Frog analyses websites for SEO problems

These Java apps are free to use and to keep, but with a few limitations to encourage you to upgrade to paid versions. I use them in free mode.

They all require the Java runtime environment on your Mac, so let’s see how to install it and then install an application.

Where to get java

Never click links or pop-up messages on web pages that tell you to install Java. Always open a fresh browser window and go to the website. This is the official source of Java and it always provides the latest version. Click the Free Java Download button.

Java should be installed from the website

Click the button on the next page to download Java. It is automatically saved to the Downloads folder on the disk. It is saved as jre-8u131-macosx-x64.dmg or something similar. The 8u131 in the name is the version number and this will increase with new versions.

Download Java for your computer

Run the installer

Open the jre-8u131-macosx-x64.dmg file and double click the icon to install Java in macOS.

Install Java on the Apple Mac running macOS

Watch out for this! Most of the installation screens are boring and will send you to sleep. However, stay awake, this step tries to change the home page and new tab page of all your web browsers! Clear the checkbox!

Opt out of extras bundled with the Java installer

Disable Java in Safari

Safari will probably open automatically when the installation is complete and the Verify Java page at the Java website opens.

Safari automatically disables Java in macOS. This means that Java on web pages will not run and this helps to keep your Mac secure when browsing the web.

Safari on the Apple Mac does not enable Java by default

Enable or disable Java in Safari

If a website you visit needs to use Java you must enable it. Go to Safari > Preferences > Security and click Plug-in Settings.

Configure the plug-ins in Safari on the Apple Mac in Preferences

The Safari plug-ins are listed and checkboxes are used to determine whether they are enabled or not. Keep Java disabled unless you specifically need it for a website. There is also a checkbox in the Java Control Panel (see below) that enables or disables Java in the browser.

Enable or disable plug-ins in Safari, such as Adobe Reader and Java

You don't need Java enabled in the browser for the SEO tools listed above. They run like regular Mac apps and don't use the browser.

Install Java applications in macOS

Now that Java is installed, you can install and run Java applications. They install just like regular macOS apps and look just like macOS apps. Here is the SEO SpyGlass installer. Tick all the boxes to get all the software, it’s very useful for website and blog owners.

Install SEO SpyGlass on the Apple Mac

Allow apps from elsewhere on the Mac

When you try to install Java apps downloaded from the web, you will see a message like this.

A security warning in macOS Sierra about software downloaded from the web

If you cannot install a Java app it may be because macOS security is set too high. Open System Preferences and click Security & Privacy. On the General tab, select App Store and identified developers. (Read this to Fix missing macOS Gatekeeper function from the command line.)

System Preferences, Security and Privacy settings in macOS on the Apple Mac

Access the Java Control Panel in macOS

There is a Java Control Panel where you can access various settings, manage updates, and set security options.

To open the Java Control Panel go to System Preferences and click the Java icon at the bottom. This control panel then opens in a separate window.

The Java Control Panel for changing the settings and configuration options

How to uninstall Java

There isn’t a Java uninstaller and removing it is not obvious. The Java website shows how to uninstall Java ( You must open a Terminal window and copy and paste the following three commands:

sudo rm -fr /Library/Internet\ Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin

sudo rm -fr /Library/PreferencePanes/JavaControlPanel.prefPane

sudo rm -fr ~/Library/Application\ Support/Java

Final thoughts

If you need to run Java applications or use websites that have Java apps on them, you must install Java on the Mac. Some people will find that they never run any Java applications, so don’t install it if you don’t need it.

It is essential for the SEO applications mentioned above though.



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