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 requirements and 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”). MySQL 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 which 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 read the document and consult with your institutional IT systems support office for any organizational strategy your institution may have to respond to Oracle’s licensing terms of Java. Amazon Corretto is a 100% compatible JRE package based on the same source code as Oracle’s JRE, and Amazon has committed to keeping Corretto free and updated into the indefinite future. Amazon’s JRE package Corretto enables Specify to run identically on Windows, Linux and macOS workstations.

For new Specify installations, the Oracle MySQL 5.7 Community Server (DBMS) first must be downloaded, installed and configured. The free and open source, MySQL Database Server Community Edition is available from Oracle at http://mysql.com/downloads. Note: Specify is not compatible with the recent Oracle release: MySQL Community Server version 8.0.x. Specify will not run with a 8.x version of MySQL. MySQL Server 5.7 is still supported and is downloadable from a link on the Oracle MySQL download page.

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 on 26 Feb 2020 with Apple Notarization allowing it to be installed and run on macOS 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 support@specifysoftware.org. 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.


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Installation Packages for Specify 6.7.04

Specify Database Schema Version 2.6 (No change from 6.7.03)

Released 15 October 2019

[Note: A bug introduced into the Specify 6 Updater prevents 6.7.02 and 6.7.03 installations from automatically updating. With 6.7.04, sites operating 6.7.03 or earlier versions will receive a notification upon startup of an available update, but it will not automatically download and install. This 6.7.04 release will need to be downloaded from this page and updated ‘manually’ by running the downloaded installation package. The Specify Updater has been fixed in 6.7.04; it will announce and install future releases automatically if the site preference for auto-updates is set.]

Specify 6.7.04 Release Notes

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

Platform Size Downloadable Installer File
Windows 64 bit ~146 MB Specify_Windows_64.exe
macOS 10.7.3+ ~144 MB Specify_macos.dmg
Linux 32 bit ~143 MB Specify_unix.sh
Linux 64 bit ~143 MB Specify_unix_64.sh


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