Learn how to set classpath as environment variable in Windows 7, 8 & 10 and pass as command-line argument. During runtime of any Java application, the CLASSPATH is a parameter that tells the JVM where to look for classes and packages, and it can be set using an environment variable or command-line argument.
- The default value of the classpath is “
(dot), meaning that only the current directory is searched for dependencies. Specifying either the
CLASSPATHvariable or the
-cpcommand line switch overrides this value.
- The order in which you specify multiple classpath entries is important. The Java interpreter will look for classes in the directories in the order they appear in the classpath variable.
Classpath separators are OS specific.
1. Setting classpath in environment variables
When you have set of jar files that are always required during your application runtime, then it’s probably best to add them in the machine’s environment variable
'CLASSPATH'. During application runtime, application class loader will always scan the jar files and classes at specified paths in this variable.
To set classpath environment variable, find the location of user variables in your machine and add all paths where Jar files are stored. Use the separator between different two folders, jar files or classes.
For example, you can find the environment variables by –
- From the desktop, right click the Computer icon.
- Choose Properties from the context menu.
- Click the Advanced system settings link.
- Click Environment Variables. In the section System Variables, find the
CLASSPATHenvironment variable and select it. Click Edit. If the
CLASSPATHenvironment variable does not exist, click
- Add all folders separated with separator. Click OK. Close all remaining windows by clicking OK.
If you are creating CLASSPATH for the first time, you need to specify the name for Variable Name in the Windows 10. Use
'.' (dot) to denote current directory.
2. Setting classpath from command line
-classpath argument to set classpath from command prompt/console. Use below given commands to set classpath for different requirements. Let’s say we have a folder named
dependency where JAR files and other classes are placed.
2.1. Add single jar file in classpath
Below syntax examples will add single jar file in classpath.
//WINDOWS $ set CLASSPATH=.;C:\dependency\framework.jar //Linux/Unix $ export CLASSPATH=.:/dependency/framework.jar
2.2. Add multiple jar files in classpath
Below syntax examples will add more than one jar file in classpath. To do so, simply use the delimiter for your operating system (either
:) as a separator between the locations specified for the CLASSPATH.
To add all JAR files present in a directory, use wildcard character (
//WINDOWS $ set CLASSPATH=C:\dependency\framework.jar;C:\location\otherFramework.jar $ set CLASSPATH=C:\dependency\framework.jar;C:\location\*.jar //Linux/Unix $ export CLASSPATH=/dependency/framework.jar:/location/otherFramework.jar $ export CLASSPATH=/dependency/framework.jar:/location/*.jar
2.3. Add classes to classpath
Many times, you may need to add individual classes in classpath as well. To do so, simply add the folder where classfile is present. e.g. let’s say there are five
.class files are present in
location folder which you want to include in classpath.
//WINDOWS $ set CLASSPATH=C:\dependency\*;C:\location //Linux/Unix $ export CLASSPATH=/dependency/*:/location
As a best practice, always organize all JAR files and application classes inside one root folder. This may be the workspace for the application.
2.4. Clear Classpath
If your CLASSPATH environment variable was set to a value that is not correct, then you can unset CLASSPATH with specifying empty value to it.
3. Executing programs with ‘-classpath’ or ‘-cp’ option in Java
Apart from setting classpath to the environment variable, you can pass additional classpath to Java runtime while launching the application using
–classpath option or
$ javac –classpath C:\dependency\framework.jar MyApp.Java $ java –classpath C:\dependency\framework.jar MyApp
4. How to find and print classpath
Anytime you wish to verify all path entries in
CLASSPATH variable, you can verify using echo command.
//Windows c:/> echo %CLASSPATH% //Linux/Unix $ echo $CLASSPATH
If CLASSPATH is not set you will get a CLASSPATH: Undefined variable error (Solaris or Linux) console or simply %CLASSPATH% printed in windows command prompt.
Happy Learning !!