Access Specifiers Concept Simplified in Java

Access Specifiers in Java
Access Specifiers in Java

Access Specifiers in Java:

Access specification is the mechanism by which we can control the use of the objects,its members and methods.
Below are the access specifier available in Java:

  1. public
  2. private
  3. protected
  4. final
  5. private and protected
  6. abstract 
  7. friendly/default

public Access Specifier:

public classes,methods can be accessed from any other classes,methods.The public access specifier is optional and automatic.Mostly customer facing methods of a class are public in nature so that they can accept calls from other classes.So an element with public access specifier has the widest possible visibility and accessibility.

private Access Specifier: 

Elements with private access specifiers are having highest degree of protection. private elements,methods can only be accessed from that class where it is defined.A private element or method is not visible to any other class or it's subclass.Also a subclass can not override a non private method and make a new private method.This is useful when we want to exclude classes that should not have access to the classes being defined in other package.We need to provide public accessor or public mutator method(setter and getter) in order to access private variables from other class in different a simple word, the private access modifier specifies that no member except that particular class(inside methods of that class). Other classes in the same package can not access private members. A protected element is same as final.
private allows developers to work on some data members without affecting the user's code.It is also very important in terms of multi-threading coding. Any method for that class which acts as a 'helper'can be made private to ensure that it is not used in the package or anywhere else thus prohibits us from changing or removing the method.Private methods are the helper function in java.
A class member declared as private will remain private to its class.It is not accessible by any class outside its class including its subclass.

protected Access Specifier:

protected elements are between public and default/friendly or Protected is sort of private.The protected elements are visible not only to all classes and subclasses in the same package but also the subclasses in other package.It deals with mainly inheritance which takes an existing class and adds new members to another class without touching the existing class(base class). We can change the methods of existing class. To inherit from an existing class we need to extend that class.protected elements can be used only inside the class or it's subclass.An inherited class can access a protected members as well as public members.A subclass can override a protected method and variable.Non-subclasses in the other packages can not access the protected elements.

class ClassA extends ClassB{
That is if a class inherits another class of another package, the only members we have access are public members of the base class(if we are inheriting class of the same package-we will have access to friendly/default members) and all the protected members of the class.If the creator of the base class wants to give access to some of its members to the derived classes as but not to the whole world. then protected modifier is the best suitable.A protected method has friendly access within the same package.
public and protected can not be applied to a class.As they does not make any sense. A class can not be private as it would make it accessible to no one but the class itself.If we want not to have anyone access to the class,we can make all the constructor private, that prevents anyone but us,inside a static member of the class from creating an object of that class.

class ClassA{
private ClassA()
static ClassA makeObjectA()
return new ClassA();

public class MyClass{
public static void main(String args[])
ClassA ca=new ClassA();
//not possible to call the constructor as it is private
ClassA ca=ClassA.makeObjectA();
//returns the object of the class ClassA.This is how we create an object,preventing anyone from directly accessing a particular constructor or constructors.


final Access Specifier:

All final elements of a class can not be overridden by subclasses of that class. classes can also be declared as final which denotes that the same class can not be subclassed. Please refer final keyword here.

private protected Access Specifier:

A field can be declared with two keywords private and protected together like:

private protected int codeName;
This gives visibility level in between protected and private access. The specifier makes the field visible in all sub classes regardless of what package they are in. These fields are not accessible by other classes in the same package.

abstract Access Specifier:

if anybody wants to define the method in a subclass, he can choose to use abstract keyword to mark it. In case of method , the method has to be defined in subclass. In case of class it signifies that the class is not fully implemented and it should not be instantiated.

friendly/default Access Specifier:

In case no access specifier is specified,java by default mark an element as default/friendly.It is a special version of public specifier.It means all other classes in the same package have access to these friendly members but classes outside of the package , these elements becomes private.Since a compilation unit(a file) can only belong to a single package, all the classes within a single compilation units are automatically friendly with each other.It allows us to group related classes together in a package so that they can easily interact with each other.(granting mutual access to all the friendly elements of the package to each other).An inherited class can access friendly/default members if both the class belong to same package.

So the difference between public and default specifier is that the public makes elements visible in all classes regardless of their package but friendly makes an element visible only in the same package but not in other packages.

public class ClassA{
int x;
private String s;
public void getData()
final void deleteData()
private void printData()

class ClassB extends ClassA{
// ClassB can access public and protected methods or elements of ClassA . However it can not override deleteData().
final class ClassC{
class ClassD extends ClassC{
//compilation error as ClassC is final hence can not be subclasses or extended.
abstract ClassE{
abstract void myMethod();
public class classF{
public static vois main(String args[])
ClassE def=new ClassE();
//compilation error as ClassE is an abstract class hence can not be instanciated

Here is a shortcut table to remember :

No Specifier Visibility Comment
1 fiendly/default classes of the same package and that class
2 public All
3 private only that class
4 protected that class, other class of the same package,child class
5 final that class and subclass all final elements are constants so can not overridden.
6 abstract that class and child class abstract methods needs to be defined in childclass


Access control is often referred to as implementation hiding.Wrapping data and methods within classes(combined with implementation hiding,this is often called encapsulation) produces a data type with characteristics and behaviors ,but access control puts boundaries within that data type for the below reason:

  • This is to establish what client programmer can and can't use.We can build our internal mechanism into the structure without worrying that the client programmers will think it is part of the interface they should be using.
  • This separates the interface from implementation. If the structure is used in a set of programs ,but the users can't do anything but send message to the public interface then we can change anything that is not public(example-default/friendly,protected or private) without requiring modification to their code.
Another view to remember :

Access Modifier--->
Access Location
public protected friendly private protected private
same class yes yes yes yes yes
sub class in
same package
yes yes yes yes No
Other classes in
same package
yes yes yes No No
sub classes in
other package
yes yes No yes No
Non Subclass in
other package
yes No No No No

General rule of thumb while choosing Specifiers:

  1. use public if the element is to be visible everywhere.
  2. use protected if the element is to be visible everywhere in the current package and also sub classes in other package.
  3. use default or friendly if the element is to be visible everywhere in the current package only
  4. use private protected if the element is to be visible only in subclasses regardless of packages.
  5. use private if the element is not to be visible anywhere except in its own class.
Access Specifiers Concept Simplified in Java Access Specifiers Concept Simplified in Java Reviewed by Animesh Chatterjee on September 14, 2018 Rating: 5

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