updating the java jdk path in intellij idea on macos

I have a very short fuse when it comes to wading through bad advice found on the web, especially old technical advice. Case in point, how to update a current release of IntelliJ IDEA’s Java/JDK path to an external JDK already installed on your machine.

I’m currently trying to do some work with:

  • Java/OpenJDK 11.0.5 LTS release distributed by AdoptOpenJDK using
  • IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition 2019.2 on
  • macOS Mojave 10.14.6.

When I started to try and use that Java release, IntelliJ couldn’t seem to find it, and I couldn’t seem to configure IntelliJ where to look. After looking at six-year-old directions via the web that were mostly right I finally figured it out. Here’s what to do with the latest release of IntelliJ.

Open the File menu and select Project Structure. This used to be buried in Other Settings, which is where all those older directions tell you to go. Now it’s out in the open, probably because of the shift from Java8 to Java9 and beyond that’s been occurring every six months since Java9 was released Setember 2018.

A dialog will show up as shown below.

In my example I’ve already set up to use Java 11.0.5. To add a new location, click the red folder on the far right, where you see the help balloon in the screen capture above. Clicking that will open a regular folder/file dialog allowing you to pick he location where your specific Java release is located on your Mac. Once you’ve set up the correct location click OK and go back to editing in the IntelliJ IDE.

I hate searching for technical information on the web, because it is without exception for older (many times far older) software than what you’re currently working with. The majority of it is old crap from Stack Overflow. And as far as I can tell, none of the search engines are capable of bubbling up current information, let alone correct information. I mean, you should have seen what I also got looking for the answer to this question.

You’re welcome.