To mock an actor is easier through the TestActorRef. You can use this code :

static ActorSystem system = ActorSystem.create();
static Props propsSome = Props.create(MockedResultActor.class);

TestActorRef<MockedResultActor> refMockedResultActor= TestActorRef.create(
                system, propsSome, "testA");

// Mocking an actor class and returning our reference actor

Note: ClassToBeMocked--Its a class you want to mock. MockedResultActor -- Its a class you want to return after mocking. This can be run using JunitTest after implementing basic configuration of mocking in your class. Code given here is specific to akka actor in java only.


So I'm probably not understanding the question but you probably don't want to mock an actor as the purpose of mocking is to replace something like a dao with a test copy that has expectations of invocation - actor doesn't really fit the bill as it's something you extend rather than a dependency - mocking really only applies to real dependencies.

TestActorRef specifically gives you access to the underlying actor - in most normal circumstances you can only send messages to an actor and not invoke anything directly on it. TestActoRef removes this limitation by allowing you to access your real true extension of Actor instead of just the ActorRef that you can only ! or ? against (send or ask).

I'm a scala dev so the insight is hopefully agnostic. I don't know the java api specifically but it shouldn't matter.

My recommendation is to get the real Actor object via actor ref and just test the method or figure out some way to get test coverage through real messages.


I have no experience in using Akka with Java, but I guess the solution for this I use in Scala can also apply to Java. There is no need at all to mock anything. In Java mocking is sometimes useful for testing, but my personal experience/opinion is that whenever you need PowerMock you're doing something wrong.

Here's how I try to test using Akka:

In Scala I use a trait (aka interface) in which the actor methods are defined.

trait ToBeTested {
  def getHelloMessage(msg: String, replyTarget: ActorRef): String = 
      replyTarget ! s"Hello $msg"

This way, this functionality can be unit tested very easy. For the real actor I try to stick to implement the receive method only.

class ToBeTestedActor extends Actor with ToBeTested {
  def receive: Receive = {
    case msg: String => getHelloMessage(msg, sender())

Then when testing the actor, you can override the getHelloMessage implementation to do whatever you want.

class ToBeTestedActorTest extends TestKit(ActorSystem("toBeTested") with .... {
  trait MyToBeTested extends ToBeTested {
    // do something predictable for testing or defer to a TestProbe which you can
    // either define globally in the test class or provide one in a constructor.
    override def getHelloMessage(msg: String, replyTarget: ActorRef): String = ??? 

  val toBeTestedActor = TestActorRef(Probe(new ToBeTestedActor with MyToBeTested))

  // ... (test cases)

In Java you can do pretty much the same thing. Since Java 8 you can provide default method implementations in interfaces, which you can override in a sub-interface for testing. Another way would be to subclass the actor in your test to override some methods to provide predictable behaviour.

// An easy unit testable interface
public interface ToBeTested {

  public ActorRef self();

  default public void getHelloMessage(String msg, ActorRef replyTarget) {
    replyTarget.tell(String.format("Hello %s", msg), self());

public class ToBeTestedActor extends UntypedActor implements ToBeTested {

  // self() already implemented by Actor class

  public void onReceive(Object message) throws Exception {

    if (message instanceof String) {
        getHelloMessage((String)message, getSender());

public class ToBeTestedActorTest {

  public void test() throws Exception {
    ActorSystem system = ActorSystem.create();

    TestActorRef<Actor> testActorRef = TestActorRef.create(system, Props.create(TestActor.class));

    Future<Object> response = Patterns.ask(testActorRef, "World", 1000);
    assertThat(response.isCompleted(), is(true));
    assertThat(Await.result(response, Duration.Zero()), is("Test"));

  // Override interface when using Java 8
  interface DummyToBeTested extends ToBeTested {
    default void getHelloMessage(String msg, ActorRef replyTarget) {
        assertThat(msg, is("World"));
        replyTarget.tell("Test", self());

  // extend ToBeTestedActor with dummy interface
  static class TestActor extends ToBeTestedActor implements DummyToBeTested {}

  // Or (pre Java 8) extend the ToBeTestedActor directly 
  //    static class TestActor extends ToBeTestedActor {
  //        @Override
  //        public void getHelloMessage(String msg, ActorRef replyTarget) {
  //            replyTarget.tell("Test", self());
  //        }
  //    }


Akka has a class AutoPilot that is basically a general mock for actors, with the ability to respond to messages and assert that messages were sent.

Here's the java example for that page. You create a probe, set an auto-pilot that can respond to messages, and get an ActorRef from it that you can substitute in for your real actor.

new JavaTestKit(system) {{
  final JavaTestKit probe = new JavaTestKit(system);
  // install auto-pilot
  probe.setAutoPilot(new TestActor.AutoPilot() {
    public AutoPilot run(ActorRef sender, Object msg) {
      sender.tell(msg, ActorRef.noSender());
      return noAutoPilot();
  // first one is replied to directly ...
  probe.getRef().tell("hello", getRef());
  // ... but then the auto-pilot switched itself off
  probe.getRef().tell("world", getRef());

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