How to Set Up the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment for Java Programming

By Barry Burd

The Eclipse integrated development environment is the tool that you need for composing and testing your Java programs. You get Eclipse — an integrated development environment for Java. An integrated development environment (IDE) is a program that provides tools to help you create software easily and efficiently. You can create Java programs without an IDE, but the time and effort you save using an IDE makes the IDE worthwhile.

According to the Eclipse Foundation’s website, Eclipse is “a universal tool platform — an open extensible IDE for anything and nothing in particular.” Indeed, Eclipse is versatile. Programmers generally think of Eclipse as an IDE for developing Java programs, but Eclipse has tools for programming in C++, PHP, and many other languages.

Downloading Eclipse

Here’s how you download Eclipse:

  1. Visit Eclipse.org.

  2. Look for a way to download Eclipse for your operating system.

    You will see a big button displaying the words Get Started Now.

    After clicking the Download Eclipse button, you see a list of downloads for your computer’s operating system.

    Eclipse’s download page directs you to versions of Eclipse that are specific to your computer’s operating system. For example, if you visit the page on a Windows computer, the page shows you downloads for Windows only. If you’re downloading Eclipse for use on another computer, you may want to override the automatic choice of operating system.

    Look for a little drop-down list containing the name of your computer’s operating system. You can change the selected operating system in that drop-down list.

    The Download Eclipse button on Eclipse's website.

  3. Choose an Eclipse package from the available packages.

    Regardless of your operating system, Eclipse comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. The Eclipse website offers Eclipse IDE for Java Developers, Eclipse IDE for Java EE Developers, Eclipse Classic, and many other specialized downloads. You should select Eclipse IDE for Java Developers.

    The Eclipse packages available to download on Eclipse's web page.

  4. Choose between Eclipse’s 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

    If you know which Java version you have (32-bit or 64-bit), be sure to download the corresponding Eclipse version. If you don’t know which Java version you have, download the 64-bit version of Eclipse and try to launch it. If you can launch 64-bit Eclipse, you’re okay. But if you get a No Java virtual machine was found error message, try downloading and launching the 32-bit version of Eclipse.

  5. Follow the appropriate links to get the download to begin.

    The links you follow depend on which of Eclipse’s many mirror sites is offering up your download. Just wade through the possibilities and get the download going.

Installing Eclipse

Precisely how you install Eclipse depends on your operating system and on what kind of file you get when you download Eclipse. Here’s a brief summary:

  • If you run Windows and the download is an .exe file:

    Double-click the .exe file’s icon.

  • If you run Windows and the download is a .zip file:

    Extract the file’s contents to the directory of your choice.

    In other words, find the .zip file’s icon in Windows Explorer (also known as File Explorer). Then double-click the .zip file’s icon. (As a result, Explorer displays the contents of the .zip file, which consists of only one folder — a folder named eclipse.) Drag the eclipse folder to a convenient place in your computer’s hard drive.

  • If you run Mac OS X:

    When you download Eclipse, you get either a .tar.gz file or a .dmg file.

    • A .tar.gz file is a compressed archive file. When you download the file, your web browser might automatically do some uncompressing for you. If so, you won’t find a .tar.gz file in your Downloads folder. Instead, you’ll find either a .tar file (because your web browser uncompressed the .gz part) or an eclipse folder (because your web browser uncompressed both the .tar and .gz parts).

      If you find a new .tar file or .tar.gz file in your Downloads folder, double-click the file until you see the eclipse folder. Drag this new eclipse folder to your Applications folder, and you’re all set.

    • If you download a .dmg file, your web browser may open the file for you. If not, find the .dmg file in your Downloads folder and double-click the file. Follow any instructions that appear after this double-click. If you’re expected to drag Eclipse into your Applications folder, do so.

  • If you run Linux:

    You may get a .tar.gz file, but there’s a chance you’ll get a self-extracting .bin file. Extract the .tar.gz file to your favorite directory or execute the self-extracting .bin file.