Installing Tomcat on macOS 10.12 Sierra

The Servlet 4.0 specification is out and Tomcat 9.0.x does support it. Time to dive into Tomcat 9.

Prerequisite: Java

Since OS X 10.7 Java is not (pre-)installed anymore, let’s fix that first. As I’m writing this, Java 1.8.0_111 is the latest version, available for download here:

The JDK installer package comes in a dmg and installs easily on the Mac; and after opening the Terminal app again,

now shows something like this:

Whatever you do, when opening Terminal and running ‘java -version’, you should see something like this, with a version of at least 1.8.x I.e. Tomcat 9.x requires Java 8 or later.

sudo is a program for Unix-like operating systems, allowing you to run programs with the security privileges of another user (normally the superuser, or root). Since we are creating directories, outside of your home folder, administrator right are required. I.e., when executing sudo you will be asked to enter your password; and your Mac User account needs to be an ‘Admin’ account.

JAVA_HOME is an important environment variable, not just for Tomcat, and it’s important to get it right. Here is a trick that allows me to keep the environment variable current, even after a Java Update was installed. In ~/.bash_profile, I set the variable like so:

Installing Tomcat

Here are the easy to follow steps to get it up and running on your Mac

  1. Download a binary distribution of the core module: apache-tomcat-9.0.0.M15.tar.gz from here. I picked the tar.gz in Binary Distributions / Core section.
  2. Opening/unarchiving the archive will create a new folder structure in your Downloads folder: (btw, this free Unarchiver app is perfect for all kinds of compressed files and superior to the built-in Archive
  3. Open to Terminal app to move the unarchived distribution to /usr/local
    sudo mkdir -p /usr/local
    sudo mv ~/Downloads/apache-tomcat-9.0.0.M15 /usr/local
  4. To make it easy to replace this release with future releases, we are going to create a symbolic link that we are going to use when referring to Tomcat (after removing the old link, you might have from installing a previous version):
    sudo rm -f /Library/Tomcat
    sudo ln -s /usr/local/apache-tomcat-9.0.0.M15 /Library/Tomcat
  5. Change ownership of the /Library/Tomcat folder hierarchy:
    sudo chown -R <your_username> /Library/Tomcat
  6. Make all scripts executable:
    sudo chmod +x /Library/Tomcat/bin/*.sh

Tomcat 8.x

Instead of using the start and stop scripts, like so:
$ /Library/Tomcat/bin/
$ /Library/Tomcat/bin/


you may also want to check out Activata’s Tomcat Controller, a tiny freeware app, providing a UI to quickly start/stop Tomcat. It may not say so, but Tomcat Controller works on macOS 10.12 just fine.


Finally, after your started Tomcat, open your Mac’s Web browser and take a look at the default page: http://localhost:8080

1 Comment

  1. andrew says: Reply

    Nice tuto, one short question: I run a macOS Server 5.2 on 10.11.x and plan to install alfresco community installer on it, beside of Port Changes, any recommendations ? Should work side by side or may apache issues ?

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