Specify Download and Installation

Specify 6 is available for Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, and for Linux. Hardware and software requirements to run Specify are dependent on the type of desktop computer you use.  Platform recommendations are available here:

Specify 6 requires prior installation of the MySQL database manager and Java Runtime Environment software (also known as the “Java JRE or Java SDK”). With the release of Specify 6.8, Specify is supported for use with MariaDB, a popular open-source, relational database platform and alternative to MySQL. MySQL (or MariaDB) and Specify may be installed: (1) on the same workstation for one or more users only on that computer, (2) on a workstation with MySQL and Specify configured for access from users on a few additional computers, or (3) on a dedicated server computer for access from multiple Specify workstations. To consider your institutional options for deploying MySQL and Specify, please review these documents:

Beginning with release 6.7.02 (28 March 2019), Specify requires the Java 8 Runtime Environment from Amazon known as Amazon “Corretto”. This is a change from using Oracle’s Java 8 runtime package (JRE) due to changes in Oracle’s licensing terms that make updates and patches no longer free to use for Specify or other non-personal applications. We have provided detailed guidance on this switch from Oracle’s Java JRE to Amazon’s here. Please review that document and consult with your IT systems support group for any strategy your institution may have to respond to Oracle’s new licensing terms for Java. Amazon Corretto 8 is a 100% compatible JRE package based on the same source code as Oracle’s JRE, and Amazon has committed to licensing Corretto at no cost and to keep it updated, indefinitely. Amazon’s JRE package Corretto 8 enables Specify to run identically on Windows, Linux and macOS workstations.  Corretto 11 is not yet supported or compatible with Specify (April 2020).

For new Specify installations, the Oracle MySQL 5.7 Community Server (DBMS) first must be downloaded, installed and configured. The free, open source, MySQL Database Server Community Edition is available from Oracle at http://dev.mysql.com/downloads/installer (Then choose the “Previous GA Version” link on the right for MySQL 5.7). Specify is not yet supported for use with MySQL Community Server 8.  The stable, production version of MariaDB, release 10.4, has been fully-tested and is compatible for use with Specify; it is available from https://downloads.mariadb.org/.

The Windows MySQL installer “MSI” file includes both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of MySQL. Once downloaded, the MySQL installer software chooses the version appropriate for your version of Windows. Windows users should use this document as a guide for installing MySQL before installing Specify 6:

For Apple macOS computers, Specify requires the macOS 10.7.3 or later. We updated Specify 6.7.04 (26 Feb 2020) and released Specify 6.8.00 (17 April 2020) with Apple Notarization enabling Specify 6 to install and run on macOS 10.14 (Mojave), and 10.15 (Catalina).

Apple users should use this guide for installing MySQL:

Note that for Specify installations on Windows workstations when you install MySQL you will be asked to create a MySQL database “root” user password. In Specify’s documentation we refer to the MySQL “root” user the ‘Specify IT User.”  During the Specify installation process, the Specify Setup Wizard program requires the MySQL root account password in order to set up a collection database and create Specify manager and user accounts.  The macOS installation of MySQL also has a user account called ‘root’ but the Oracle Mac MySQL installer does not ask for a password–MySQL is installed without a password on its root account. A password must be added, the document “Installing MySQL on Mac OS for Specify” explains how to do that using a macOS terminal window. (On shared or dedicated MySQL server computers, Specify does not strictly require a MySQL ‘root’ user account with full MySQL server privileges to setup Specify. The Specify ‘IT User’ in that case should be a MySQL account with root-level privileges only for the Specify collection database to be setup and managed.) On workstations, to install the full version of Specify, after you have MySQL installed and running, download and then run the Specify installation package for your desktop platform. Download links to Specify installers are below. Once Specify is installed, but before it can be used to manage collection data, there is an additional preparation step–running the Specify Setup Wizard. The Setup Wizard adds Specify’s data tables to the new database and configures the initial database setup in several ways based on information you provide. The Setup Wizard (SpWizard.exe) is included in the Specify 6 installation package and it is put into the Specify program installation “/bin” directory. Before setting up Specify for an actual, production database, read the Specify Setup Wizard step-by-step guide linked below. In it you will find several configuration choices which determine how your collection’s data will be represented within Specify. Those choices require consideration before running the Wizard.

Some software installation and Setup Wizard options may seem complicated or obscure. If you do not have local technical support for installing software or would just like to confirm your choices, reach out to the Specify Helpdesk at [email protected]. We would be happy to advise on MySQL and Specify setup options and steps.

Software Applications in the Specify 6 Installation Packages

Application Description
Specify.exe [In the 64-bit installation package.] Specify 6 for 64-bit Windows with 1 GB memory for Java and Specify
Specify4GB.exe [In the 64-bit installation package.] Specify 6 allocates 4 GB RAM for Java and Specify, recommended for 64-bit Windows with a minimum of 8 GB of RAM. For large databases (500K-1M records) performance and data exporting should be improved.
SpBackupRestore.exe This is Specify’s database backup and restore tool for site administrators.
SpiReport.exe Specify’s version of iReport for creating and editing label and report formats for printed output
SpWizard.exe The Specify Setup Wizard creates the first new, empty, Specify collection database in MySQL. Additional collection databases can be added later from within Specify.
ImportFileSplitter.exe The Import File Splitter reduces large Microsoft Excel spreadsheet files into separate files of 5,000 record rows or fewer to enable specimen or taxon data import through the Specify WorkBench.
DataExporter.exe The Specify Data Exporter creates a flat database table based on a user’s schema mapping, and then exports that data in various formats for external caches and databases, such as an IPT, DarwinCore compliant cache or a copy for the Specify web portal.
ExpCmdLine.exe This is a command line version of the Specify Data Exporter used for exporting collection data to an external copy or cache. This program can be used to script an automatic export of collection data to update external caches or web servers, including the Specify Web Portal an IPT server cache.


Specify 6 Logo

Installation Packages for Specify 6.8.01

Specify Database Schema Version 2.9 (Updated from v2.7, v2.8 skipped)

Released 16 September 2021

Specify 6.8.01 Release Notes

New Specify installations need to first install MariaDB 10.4 or Oracle’s MySQL Community Server 5.7.x (not 8.0.x) and Amazon’s Corretto 8 (Java JRE) before installing Specify 6. See installation guides and documentation for more information on preparing a workstation for Specify 6.

Existing installations of Specify 6 will need to have a version of MySQL that is 5.7.x (not 8.0.x), or MariaDB 10.4 for the database to properly update.

Platform Size Installer
Windows 64 bit 163 MB Specify_Windows_64.exe
macOS 10.7.3+ 162 MB Specify_macos.dmg
Linux 64 bit 160 MB Specify_unix_64.sh


Built with the support of the multi-platform installer builder INSTALL4J.