How do I access environment variables in Python?


How do I get the value of an environment variable in Python?

Asked By: Amit Yadav



You can access the environment variables using

import os
print os.environ

Try to see the content of the PYTHONPATH or PYTHONHOME environment variables. Maybe this will be helpful for your second question.

Answered By: andrei1089

As for the environment variables:

import os
print os.environ["HOME"]
Answered By: Jim Brissom

Environment variables are accessed through os.environ:

import os

To see a list of all environment variables:


If a key is not present, attempting to access it will raise a KeyError. To avoid this:

# Returns `None` if key doesn't exist

# Returns `default_value` if key doesn't exist
print(os.environ.get('KEY_THAT_MIGHT_EXIST', default_value))

# Returns `default_value` if key doesn't exist
print(os.getenv('KEY_THAT_MIGHT_EXIST', default_value))
Answered By: Rod

Here’s how to check if $FOO is set:

except KeyError: 
   print "Please set the environment variable FOO"
Answered By: Scott C Wilson

To check if the key exists (returns True or False)

'HOME' in os.environ

You can also use get() when printing the key; useful if you want to use a default.

print(os.environ.get('HOME', '/home/username/'))

where /home/username/ is the default

Answered By: lgriffiths

If you are planning to use the code in a production web application code, using any web framework like Django and Flask, use projects like envparse. Using it, you can read the value as your defined type.

from envparse import env
# will read WHITE_LIST=hello,world,hi to white_list = ["hello", "world", "hi"]
white_list = env.list("WHITE_LIST", default=[])
# Perfect for reading boolean
DEBUG = env.bool("DEBUG", default=False)

NOTE: kennethreitz’s autoenv is a recommended tool for making project-specific environment variables. For those who are using autoenv, please note to keep the .env file private (inaccessible to public).

Answered By: Renjith Thankachan
import os
for a in os.environ:
    print('Var: ', a, 'Value: ', os.getenv(a))
print("all done")

That will print all of the environment variables along with their values.

Answered By: Azorian

Actually it can be done this way:

import os

for item, value in os.environ.items():
    print('{}: {}'.format(item, value))

Or simply:

for i, j in os.environ.items():
    print(i, j)

For viewing the value in the parameter:




To set the value:

os.environ['HOME'] = '/new/value'
Answered By: britodfbr

There are also a number of great libraries. Envs, for example, will allow you to parse objects out of your environment variables, which is rad. For example:

from envs import env
env('SECRET_KEY') # 'your_secret_key_here'
env('SERVER_NAMES',var_type='list') #['your', 'list', 'here']
Answered By: Peter Konneker

For Django, see Django-environ.

$ pip install django-environ

import environ

env = environ.Env(
    # set casting, default value
    DEBUG=(bool, False)
# reading .env file

# False if not in os.environ
DEBUG = env('DEBUG')

# Raises Django's ImproperlyConfigured exception if SECRET_KEY not in os.environ
Answered By: Leonardo

You can also try this:

First, install python-decouple

pip install python-decouple

Import it in your file

from decouple import config

Then get the environment variable


Read more about the Python library here.

Answered By: Steve Mitto

Edited – October 2021

Following @Peter’s comment, here’s how you can test it:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from os import environ

# Initialize variables
num_of_vars = 50
for i in range(1, num_of_vars):
    environ[f"_BENCHMARK_{i}"] = f"BENCHMARK VALUE {i}"  

def stopwatch(repeat=1, autorun=True):
    stopwatch decorator to calculate the total time of a function
    import timeit
    import functools
    def outer_func(func):
        def time_func(*args, **kwargs):
            t1 = timeit.default_timer()
            for _ in range(repeat):
                r = func(*args, **kwargs)
            t2 = timeit.default_timer()
            print(f"Function={func.__name__}, Time={t2 - t1}")
            return r
        if autorun:
            except TypeError:
                raise Exception(f"{time_func.__name__}: autorun only works with no parameters, you may want to use @stopwatch(autorun=False)") from None
        return time_func
    if callable(repeat):
        func = repeat
        repeat = 1
        return outer_func(func)
    return outer_func

def using_environ():
    for item in environ:

def using_dict(repeat=10000):
    env_vars_dict = dict(environ)
    for item in env_vars_dict:
python ""

# Output
Function=using_environ, Time=0.216224731
Function=using_dict, Time=0.00014206099999999888

If this is true … It’s 1500x faster to use a dict() instead of accessing environ directly.

A performance-driven approach – calling environ is expensive, so it’s better to call it once and save it to a dictionary. Full example:

from os import environ

# Slower
print(environ["USER"], environ["NAME"])

# Faster
env_dict = dict(environ)
print(env_dict["USER"], env_dict["NAME"])

P.S- if you worry about exposing private environment variables, then sanitize env_dict after the assignment.

Answered By: Meir Gabay

You should first import os using

import os

and then actually print the environment variable value


of course, replace yourvariable as the variable you want to access.

Answered By: ichirod

Import the os module:

import os

To get an environment variable:


To set an environment variable:

# Set environment variables
os.environ['Env_var'] = 'Some Value'
Answered By: George Imerlishvili

The tricky part of using nested for-loops in one-liners is that you have to use list comprehension. So in order to print all your environment variables, without having to import a foreign library, you can use:

python -c "import os;L=[f'{k}={v}' for k,v in os.environ.items()]; print('n'.join(L))"
Answered By: not2qubit
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