How to Fix Cannot Find Symbol Error in Java

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In Java programming, encountering errors is part of the learning curve. One such error message is “cannot find symbol“. In this guide, we will explain its meaning.

Moreover, we will dive into the various causes behind this error and, most importantly, share actionable solutions to fix it.

What is Cannot Find Symbol Error in Java?

This error occurs when the Java compiler is unable to locate a symbol, such as a variable, method, or class, that has been referenced in the code.

In other words, the Java error indicates that the compiler does not recognize the specified symbol and as a result, fails to compile the code successfully.

This error can be quite common, especially for beginners, as it often occurs when there is a typo or a mistake in the naming of the symbol.

For example, if you mistakenly spell a variable name differently in different parts of your code, the compiler will not be able to find the symbol and will throw this error.

It is important to carefully check your code for any spelling errors or inconsistencies in symbol names.

Also Check: Error: Legacy-Install-Failure

What Causes Java Error Cannot Find Symbol?

Some of the known causes of the Java error is mentioned below.

  1. Misspelled Identifier: Mistyping a variable, method, or class name can trigger the “Cannot Find Symbol” error.
  2. Incorrect Import Statement: Forgetting to import a class or incorrectly importing it may lead to this error.
  3. Wrong Package Reference: Referencing a class or method from a different package without the correct identifier can cause this error.
  4. Scope Issues: Accessing a variable or method outside of its scope can result in this error.
  5. Incorrect Method Signatures: Calling a method with the wrong number of parameters or incorrect parameter types can trigger this error.
  6. Inaccessible Class Members: Attempting to access private or protected class members from outside its class or package can lead to this error.
  7. Classpath Issues: Incorrect classpath settings or a missing required class file on the classpath can cause this error.
  8. Non-Existent Symbol: Referencing a symbol that doesn’t exist or hasn’t been declared can result in the “Cannot Find Symbol” error.

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How to Fix Cannot Find Symbol Error in Java?

Now that we have explored the various causes of the Java error, it’s time to move on to the solution. Step by step instructions is provided below to fix the error.

  1. Identify the Missing Symbol:
    • Look at the error message to see which symbol cannot be found and where the error is occurring.
    • The error message will display in the format: error: cannot find symbol, followed by the symbol name and location.
  2. Check Spelling and Capitalization:
    • Ensure that the spelling and capitalization of the symbol name in your code matches the actual declaration.
    • Java is case-sensitive, so myVariable is different from MyVariable.
  3. Verify Scope and Access:
    • Ensure the symbol is within scope.
    • If it’s a variable or method, ensure it’s declared before it’s used or is accessible in the current scope.
  4. Check the Import Statements:
    • If the missing symbol is a class from a library, ensure you have the correct import statements at the beginning of your file.
  5. Verify Class and File Names:
    • Ensure that the class name and the file name match, and that the file name has the correct capitalization.
    • The file should contain a public class named MyClass.
  6. Compile All Necessary Files:
    • If your program is spread across multiple files, ensure all necessary files have been compiled.
    • Use the command javac *.java to compile all Java files in the directory.
  7. Check the Classpath:
    • Ensure that your classpath includes the current directory and any directories containing necessary libraries.
    • You can use the -cp option with javac to specify the classpath: javac -cp .;your\lib\directory\*
  8. Consult Documentation:
    • If the symbol is from a library, consult the library’s documentation to ensure you’re using it correctly.
  9. Use an IDE:
    • Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like IntelliJ IDEA or Eclipse can help identify and fix these errors with suggestions and automatic imports.
  10. Seek Help:
    • If the error persists, seek help from online communities like Stack Overflow, or consult with peers or mentors.

Also Check: Error: Legacy-Install-Failure


In conclusion, fixing the Java error is doable with some checking and patience. It’s a step towards getting better at Java. Keep learning from errors and happy coding!

Comment down below for suggestions or queries. We will reach out to you in no time.

Java Error Cannot Find Symbol FAQs

1. What does the ‘Cannot Find Symbol’ error mean in Java?

The ‘Cannot Find Symbol’ error in Java occurs when the compiler can’t find a symbol (a variable, method, or class) that’s been referenced in your code. It often means there’s a typo, or the symbol hasn’t been defined or imported properly.

2. Why does the ‘Cannot Find Symbol’ error occur?

This error can happen due to various reasons such as a misspelled variable name, forgotten import statement, or trying to use a symbol from a not properly linked library or package.

3. How can I resolve the ‘Cannot Find Symbol’ error?

First, check for typos in the symbol name. Then, ensure you’ve properly imported any necessary classes or packages. Lastly, verify the symbol’s definition and scope to ensure it’s accessible from where you’re trying to use it.

4. Are there tools that can help me fix the ‘Cannot Find Symbol’ error?

Yes, Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like IntelliJ IDEA or Eclipse can be very helpful. They provide features like auto-completion and real-time error checking which can help prevent or quickly resolve ‘Cannot Find Symbol’ errors.

5. Where can I learn more about resolving Java errors?

You can explore official Java documentation, online programming forums, or educational platforms like Coursera, Udemy, or Codecademy that offer courses on Java programming. They cover common errors and troubleshooting techniques extensively.