DIRENV 1 “2019” direnv “User Manuals”


direnv - unclutter your .profile


direnv command


direnv is an environment variable manager for your shell. It knows how to hook into bash, zsh and fish shell to load or unload environment variables depending on your current directory. This allows you to have project-specific environment variables and not clutter the “~/.profile” file.

Before each prompt it checks for the existence of an .envrc file in the current and parent directories. If the file exists, it is loaded into a bash sub-shell and all exported variables are then captured by direnv and then made available to your current shell, while unset variables are removed.

Because direnv is compiled into a single static executable it is fast enough to be unnoticeable on each prompt. It is also language agnostic and can be used to build solutions similar to rbenv, pyenv, phpenv, …


$ cd ~/my_project
$ echo ${FOO-nope}
$ echo export FOO=foo > .envrc
\.envrc is not allowed
$ direnv allow .
direnv: reloading
direnv: loading .envrc
direnv export: +FOO
$ echo ${FOO-nope}
$ cd ..
direnv: unloading
direnv export: ~PATH
$ echo ${FOO-nope}


For direnv to work properly it needs to be hooked into the shell. Each shell has its own extension mechanism:


Add the following line at the end of the ~/.bashrc file:

eval "$(direnv hook bash)"

Make sure it appears even after rvm, git-prompt and other shell extensions that manipulate the prompt.


Add the following line at the end of the ~/.zshrc file:

eval "$(direnv hook zsh)"


Add the following line at the end of the $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/fish/config.fish file:

direnv hook fish | source

Fish supports 3 modes you can set with with the global environment variable direnv_fish_mode:

set -g direnv_fish_mode eval_on_arrow    # trigger direnv at prompt, and on every arrow-based directory change (default)
set -g direnv_fish_mode eval_after_arrow # trigger direnv at prompt, and only after arrow-based directory changes before executing command
set -g direnv_fish_mode disable_arrow    # trigger direnv at prompt only, this is similar functionality to the original behavior


Add the following line at the end of the ~/.cshrc file:

eval `direnv hook tcsh`



$> direnv hook elvish > ~/.elvish/lib/direnv.elv

and add the following line to your ~/.elvish/rc.elv file:

use direnv


Add the following line to your $PROFILE:

Invoke-Expression "$(direnv hook pwsh)"


Add the following line to your ~/.murex_profile:

direnv hook murex -> source


In some target folder, create an .envrc file and add some export(1) and unset(1) directives in it.

On the next prompt you will notice that direnv complains about the .envrc being blocked. This is the security mechanism to avoid loading new files automatically. Otherwise any git repo that you pull, or tar archive that you unpack, would be able to wipe your hard drive once you cd into it.

So here we are pretty sure that it won’t do anything bad. Type direnv allow . and watch direnv loading your new environment. Note that direnv edit . is a handy shortcut that opens the file in your $EDITOR and automatically reloads it if the file’s modification time has changed.

Now that the environment is loaded you can notice that once you cd out of the directory it automatically gets unloaded. If you cd back into it it’s loaded again. That’s the base of the mechanism that allows you to build cool things.

Exporting variables by hand is a bit repetitive so direnv provides a set of utility functions that are made available in the context of the .envrc file. Check the direnv-stdlib(1) man page for more details. You can also define your own extensions inside $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/direnv/direnvrc or $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/direnv/lib/*.sh files.

Hopefully this is enough to get you started.


XDG_CONFIG_HOME : Defaults to $HOME/.config.

XDG_DATA_HOME : Defaults to $HOME/.local/share.


$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/direnv/direnv.toml : Direnv configuration. See direnv.toml(1).

$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/direnv/direnvrc : Bash code loaded before every .envrc. Good for personal extensions.

$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/direnv/lib/*.sh : Bash code loaded before every .envrc. Good for third-party extensions.

$XDG_DATA_HOME/direnv/allow : Records which .envrc files have been direnv allowed.


Bug reports, contributions and forks are welcome.

All bugs or other forms of discussion happen on http://github.com/direnv/direnv/issues

There is also a wiki available where you can share your usage patterns or other tips and tricks https://github.com/direnv/direnv/wiki

Or drop by on the #direnv channel on FreeNode to have a chat.

MIT licence - Copyright (C) 2019 @zimbatm and contributors


direnv-stdlib(1), direnv.toml(1), direnv-fetchurl(1)