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146 Stars 52 Forks MIT License 203 Commits 10 Opened issues


An alternative Application Launcher Script for Java Apps on Mac OS X that works with both Apple's and Oracle's PList format and Java 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Plus it supports drag&drop to the Dock icon.

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A BASH based JavaApplicationStub for Java Apps on Mac OS X that works with both Apple's and Oracle's plist format. It is released under the MIT License.

See the CHANGELOG for a Release History and feature details.


Whilst developing some Java Apps for Mac OS X I was facing the problem of supporting two different kinds of Java versions – the old Apple versions and the new Oracle versions.

Is there some difference, you might ask? Yes, there is!

  1. The installation directory differs:

    • Apple Java 1.5/1.6:
    • Oracle JRE 1.7/1.8:
      /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin/Contents/
    • Oracle JDK 1.7/1.8:
  2. Mac Apps built with tools designed for Apple's Java (like Apple's JarBundler or the OpenSource ANT task "Jarbundler") won't work on Macs with Oracle Java 7 and no Apple Java installed.

    • This is because Apple's
      only works for Apple's Java and their style to store Java properties in the
    • To support Oracle Java 7 you would need to built a separate App package with Oracle's ANT task "Appbundler".
    • Thus you would need the user to know which Java distribution he has installed on their Mac. Not very user friendly...
  3. Oracle uses a different syntax to store Java properties in the applications

    file. A Java Application packaged as a Mac App with Oracle's Appbundler also needs a different
    and therefore won't work on systems with Apple's old Java...
  4. Starting with Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), Java Apps won't open anymore if they contain the deprecated Plist dictionary

    . This isn't confirmed by Apple, but issue #9 leads to this assumption:
    • Apple seems to declare the
      dictionary as deprecated and ties it to their old Apple Java 6. If you have a newer Oracle Java version installed the app won't open.
    • If Java 7/8 is installed, Apple doesn't accept those java versions as suitable
    • Apple prompts for JRE 6 download even before the
      is executed. This is why we can't intercept at this level and need to replace the
      dictionary by a
      dictionary key.
    • This requires to use the latest JarBundler version (see below for more details)

TL;DR: Since there is no universally working JavaApplicationStub for Java 6, 7 and above, and because Apple and Oracle really screwed things up during their Java transition phase, I was in need of a new Stub file. And well, since I can't write such a script in C, C# or whatever fancy language, I wrote it as a Bash script. And it works! The original script was inspired by Ian Roberts stackoverflow answer. Thanks, Ian!

How the script works

You don't need a native

file anymore. The Bash script needs to be executable – that's all.

The script reads JVM properties from

regardless of whether it's Apple or Oracle syntax and passes them to a
exec java
call like the following simplified:
# execute Java and set
# - classpath
# - splash image
# - dock icon
# - app name
# - JVM options / properties (-D)
# - JVM default options (-X)
# - main class
# - main class arguments
# - passthrough arguments from Terminal or Drag'n'Drop to Finder icon
exec "${JAVACMD}" \
    -cp "${JVMClassPath}" \
    -splash:"${ResourcesFolder}/${JVMSplashFile}" \
    -Xdock:icon="${ResourcesFolder}/${CFBundleIconFile}" \
    -Xdock:name="${CFBundleName}" \
    ${JVMOptions} \
    ${JVMDefaultOptions} \
    ${JVMMainClass} \
    ${MainArgsArr} \

It sets the classpath, the dock icon, the AboutMenuName (as Xdock parameter) and then every JVMOptions, JVMDefaultOptions or JVMArguments found in the

file. See the table below for more supported Plist keys.

The WorkingDirectory is either retrieved from Apple's Plist key

or set to the JavaRoot directory within the app bundle.

The name of the main class is also retrieved from

. If no main class is found, an AppleScript error dialog is shown and the script exits with exit code 1.

There is some foo happening to determine which Java versions are installed – here's the list in which order system properties are checked:

  1. System variable
    • can also be set to a relative path using the
       Plist dictionary key
    • which allows for bundling a custom version of Java inside your app!
  2. Highest available Java version (Java 8 trumps 7) found in one of these locations:
    • /usr/libexec/java_home
    • Oracle's JRE Plugin:
      /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/JavaAppletPlugin.plugin/Contents/Home/bin/java
    • Symlink for old Apple Java:
  3. If you require a specific to-the-point Java version or a minimum requirement with the Plist key
    the script will try to find a matching JDK or JRE in all of the above locations
    • if multiple matching JVM's are found, the script will pick the latest (highest version number)
    • starting from version 3.0 of this script you can use a special syntax in Plist key
      to specify a max requirement. See issue #51 for examples.

If none of these can be found or executed the script shows an AppleScript error dialog saying that Java needs to be installed:

Error Dialog No Java Found

Messages are localized and displayed either in English (Default), French, German or Chinese. Language contributions are very welcome! Thank you!

What you need to do

Use whichever ANT task you like: * the opensource "JarBundler" (recommended) * or my JarBundler fork (deprecated) * both support the newly introduced and recommended

dict key * Oracle's opensource "Appbundler" (seems to be dead) * or infinitekind's fork

Or build the App bundle statically from scratch...

JarBundler (≥ v3.3) example

Download the latest JarBundler release from its github repo.

:exclamation: Attention:

Using an older version of JarBundler (e.g. old JarBundler ≤ v2.3 or new JarBundler ≤ v3.2) might result in issue #9 (Mac OS X 10.10 asking to install deprecated Apple JRE 6 instead of using a newer Java version)

If you don't want to care about compatibility issues between OS X and Java versions, make sure to use the latest JarBundler version ≥ 3.3

Then place the

from this repo in your build resources folder and link it in your ANT task (attribute
). Don't forget to set the newly introduced
option for compatibility:

The ANT task will take care of all the rest... But of course you can specify more options. Please check the JarBundler docs.

You should get a fully functional Mac Application Bundle working with both Java distributions from Apple and Oracle and all Mac OS X versions.

Appbundler example

Just place the

from this repo in your build resources folder and link it in your ANT task (attribute
from infinitekind fork):

The ANT task will take care of all the rest... But of course you can specify more options. Please check the Appbundler docs.

You should get a fully functional Mac Application Bundle working with both Java distributions from Apple and Oracle and all Mac OS X versions.

Supported PList keys

| Function | Apple PList key | Oracle PList key | |---------------------------------|------------------------|-----------------------| | App Name (Dock Name) |

| | App Icon (Dock Icon) |
| | Working Directory |

fallback to

support for variables
| not supported
| | Java Min/Max* Version Requirement |
| | Java ClassPath (
-cp …
) |
| | Java Main Class |
| | Splash Image (
) |
| | Java VM Options (
) |
| |
* |
| not supported | | Java Properties (
) |
| | Main Class Arguments |

Specify min/max Java requirement

Since v3.0 (#51)


(Apple style) or
(Oracle style) with the following values:
  • 1.8
    for Java 8
  • 1.8+
    for Java 8 or higher
  • 1.7;1.8*
    for Java 7 or 8
  • 1.8;9.0
    for Java 8* up to exactly 9.0 (but not 9.0.*)
  • 1.8;9.0*
    for Java 8* and 9.0.* but not 9.1.*

Bundle a JRE/JDK with your app

You can use the Plist key

to export and set the
environment variable relative to your App's root directory:


Recommended additional Plist keys

Starting with Mac OS 10.14 users may be confronted with an additional system security dialog before any warning dialog of this stub is shown. See issue #77 for more details.

This happens because the warning dialogs of this launcher stub are displayed with AppleScript.

It's recommended to at least set the following Plist key in order to display a descriptive message to the user, why he should grant the app system access:

There was an error while launching the application. Please click OK to display a dialog with more information or cancel and view the syslog for details.

The message itself is just a sample...


Starting with version 3.0

logs data to the
facility which can be easily accessed with the
utility by searching for syslog:

Example log data in

Log data includes debug information of the JVM search strategy, App name, language, selected JVM, WorkingDirectory and exec call.

Missing Features

At the moment, there's no support for * required JVM architecture (like

, etc.) * prefer JDK over JRE or vice versa


universalJavaApplicationStub is released under the MIT License.

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