Nick Nick - 3 months ago 14
Java Question

Changing the current working directory in Java?

How can I change the current working directory from within a Java program? Everything I've been able to find about the issue claims that you simply can't do it, but I can't believe that that's really the case.

I have a piece of code that opens a file using a hard-coded relative file path from the directory it's normally started in, and I just want to be able to use that code from within a different Java program without having to start it from within a particular directory. It seems like you should just be able to call

System.setProperty( "user.dir", "/path/to/dir" )
, but as far as I can figure out, calling that line just silently fails and does nothing.

I would understand if Java didn't allow you to do this, if it weren't for the fact that it allows you to get the current working directory, and even allows you to open files using relative file paths....


There is no reliable way to do this in pure Java. Setting the user.dir property via System.setProperty() or java -Duser.dir=... does seem to affect subsequent creations of Files, but not e.g. FileOutputStreams.

The File(String parent, String child) constructor can help if you build up your directory path separately from your file path, allowing easier swapping.

An alternative is to set up a script to run Java from a different directory, or use JNI native code as suggested below.

The relevant Sun bug was closed in 2008 as "will not fix".