# Configuration

Prefect's settings are stored in a configuration file called config.toml. In general, you should not edit this file directly to modify Prefect's settings. Instead, you should use environment variables for temporary settings, or create a user configuration file for permanent settings.

The configuration file is parsed when Prefect is first imported and is available as a live object in prefect.config. To access any value, use dot-notation (for example, prefect.config.tasks.defaults.checkpoint).

# Environment variables

Any lowercase Prefect configuration key can be set by environment variable. In order to do so, prefix the variable with PREFECT__ and use two underscores (__) to separate each part of the key.

For example, if you set PREFECT__TASKS__DEFAULTS__MAX_RETRIES=4, then prefect.config.tasks.defaults.max_retries == 4.

Interpolated keys are lowercase

Environment variables are always interpreted as lowercase configuration keys, except whenever they are specifying local secrets. For example,


will result in two configuration settings: one for config.logging.level and one for config.context.secrets.my_KEY (note that the casing on the latter is preserved).

# Automatic type casting

Prefect will do its best to detect the type of your environment variable and cast it appropriately.

  • "true" (with any capitalization) is converted to True
  • "false" (with any capitalization) is converted to False
  • strings that parse as integers, floats, None, lists, dictionaries, etc. are all converted to their respective Python type

# User configuration

In addition to environment variables, users can provide a custom configuration file. Any values in the custom configuration will be loaded on top of the default values, but prior to interpolation, meaning the user configuration only needs to contain values you want to change.

By default, Prefect will look for a user configuration file at $HOME/.prefect/config.toml, but you can change that location by setting the environment variable PREFECT__USER_CONFIG_PATH appropriately. Please note the double-underscore (__) in the variable name; this ensures that it will be available at runtime as prefect.config.user_config_path.

# Configuration precedence

Configuration values set via environment variable have the highest priority; they will be respected even if a user configuration exists. User configuration files, in turn, have precedence over the default values.


Prefect's configuration is written in TOML, a structured document that supports typed values and nesting.

# Extensions

Prefect extends standard TOML with two forms of variable interpolation.

# Environment variable interpolation

Any string value that contains the name of an environment variable prefixed by "$" will be replaced by the value of that environment variable when Prefect loads the configuration. For example, if DIR=/foo in your environment you could have the following key in your configuration:

path = "$DIR/file.txt"

In this case, loading prefect.config.path == "/foo/file.txt"

Environment variables are always interpreted as lowercase keys.

# Configuration interpolation

If a string value refers to any other configuration key, enclosed in "${" and "}", then the value of that key will be interpolated at runtime. This process is iterated a few times to resolve multiple references.

For example, this can be used to build values from other values:


host = "localhost"
port = "5432"
url = "https://${api.host}:${api.port}"
assert prefect.config.api.url == "https://localhost:5432"

Or even to create complex switching logic based on the value of one variable:

environment = "prod"
user = "${environments.${environment}.user}"


        user = "test"

        user = "admin"
assert prefect.config.environment == "prod"
assert prefect.config.user == "admin"

# Validation

Configs are recursively validated when first loaded. ValueErrors are raised for invalid config definitions. The checks include invalid keys; because Config objects have dictionary-like methods, it can create problems if any of their keys shadow one of their methods. For example, "keys" is an invalid key because Config.keys() is an important method.