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How to Fix java.lang.UnsupportedClassVersionError in Java?

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The UnsupportedClassVersionError is a sub-class of the LinkageError and thrown by the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). When a class file is read and when major and minor version numbers are not supported, this error is thrown, and especially during the linking phase, this error is thrown

A sample snapshot of UnsupportedClassVersionError 


Situations when the error is thrown :

When we tried to compile a program using a higher version of Java and execute it using a JVM of a lower version, this error is thrown. But the reverse case is not true.

Hence, it is important to note the java versions 


Get the installed java version :

java –version  (In command prompt(windows), we can give)

Check java version


Fixing the program via command line :

In order to overcome the UnsupportedClassVersionError, we can either compile our code for an earlier version of Java or run our code on a newer Java version. It is about our choice of decision only. If a third-party library is used then, it is better to run on a newer java version and if it is for distribution, it is best to compile to an older version.


Using JAVA_HOME Environment Variable :

While doing Java programs, always it is good to set JAVA_HOME and setting that value in path

We can check that in command prompt in the below way also

C:\Windows\system32>echo %JAVA_HOME%
C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-9.0.4


Requirements to run a java program on a new JRE:

Move to the directory and locate the bin directory. For example, if the JRE is in location like

C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-11.0.2, then navigate till C:\Program Files\Java\jdk-11.0.2\bin

Execute the program as

java <filename>   // Even we can give filename with full package


Requirements to run a java program on an older JRE :

Example : 

C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_31\bin\javac <filename along with package>

In order to ensure compatibility, we can point “-bootclasspath” at the rt.jar of the targeted JRE:

javac -bootclasspath "C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_31\jre\lib\rt.jar" 
\ -source 1.8 -target 1.8 <filename>

[Applicable mainly to JDK 8 and lower]

But in JDK 9, the “–release” parameter was added to replace “-source” and “-target”. 

The “–release” option supports targets 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11. As an example, let us use “–release” to target Java 8:

javac --release 8 <filename>

There are many IDEs are available for Java development

Let us see how we can overcome “UnsupportedClassVersionError” in Eclipse

Selecting JRE using Java Build Path->Installed JRE

Java compiler level selection :

Java compiler selection


We can control the version of Java when we build and package a file in Maven. When using Java 7 or older, we set the source and target for the compiler plugin.

Let’s set the source and target using compiler plugin properties:

–release option added in Java 9

Conclusion :

By setting the environment changes either via command-line way or via IDE way or via Maven way, we can overcome “unsupportedclassversion”.

My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up
Last Updated : 28 Jan, 2021
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