The messages framework

Quite commonly in web applications, you need to display a one-time notification message (also known as “flash message”) to the user after processing a form or some other types of user input.

For this, Django provides full support for cookie- and session-based messaging, for both anonymous and authenticated users. The messages framework allows you to temporarily store messages in one request and retrieve them for display in a subsequent request (usually the next one). Every message is tagged with a specific level that determines its priority (e.g., info, warning, or error).

Enabling messages

Messages are implemented through a middleware class and corresponding context processor.

The default created by startproject already contains all the settings required to enable message functionality:

If you don’t want to use messages, you can remove 'django.contrib.messages' from your INSTALLED_APPS, the MessageMiddleware line from MIDDLEWARE_CLASSES, and the messages context processor from TEMPLATE_CONTEXT_PROCESSORS.

Configuring the message engine

Storage backends

The messages framework can use different backends to store temporary messages.

Django provides three built-in storage classes:


This class stores all messages inside of the request’s session. Therefore it requires Django’s contrib.sessions application.


This class stores the message data in a cookie (signed with a secret hash to prevent manipulation) to persist notifications across requests. Old messages are dropped if the cookie data size would exceed 2048 bytes.


This class first uses CookieStorage, and falls back to using SessionStorage for the messages that could not fit in a single cookie. It also requires Django’s contrib.sessions application.

This behavior avoids writing to the session whenever possible. It should provide the best performance in the general case.

FallbackStorage is the default storage class. If it isn’t suitable to your needs, you can select another storage class by setting MESSAGE_STORAGE to its full import path, for example:


To write your own storage class, subclass the BaseStorage class in and implement the _get and _store methods.

Message levels

The messages framework is based on a configurable level architecture similar to that of the Python logging module. Message levels allow you to group messages by type so they can be filtered or displayed differently in views and templates.

The built-in levels, which can be imported from django.contrib.messages directly, are:

Constant Purpose
DEBUG Development-related messages that will be ignored (or removed) in a production deployment
INFO Informational messages for the user
SUCCESS An action was successful, e.g. “Your profile was updated successfully”
WARNING A failure did not occur but may be imminent
ERROR An action was not successful or some other failure occurred

The MESSAGE_LEVEL setting can be used to change the minimum recorded level (or it can be changed per request). Attempts to add messages of a level less than this will be ignored.

Message tags

Message tags are a string representation of the message level plus any extra tags that were added directly in the view (see Adding extra message tags below for more details). Tags are stored in a string and are separated by spaces. Typically, message tags are used as CSS classes to customize message style based on message type. By default, each level has a single tag that’s a lowercase version of its own constant:

Level Constant Tag
DEBUG debug
INFO info
SUCCESS success
WARNING warning
ERROR error

To change the default tags for a message level (either built-in or custom), set the MESSAGE_TAGS setting to a dictionary containing the levels you wish to change. As this extends the default tags, you only need to provide tags for the levels you wish to override:

from django.contrib.messages import constants as messages
    messages.INFO: '',
    50: 'critical',

Using messages in views and templates

add_message(request, level, message, extra_tags='', fail_silently=False)

Adding a message

To add a message, call:

from django.contrib import messages
messages.add_message(request, messages.INFO, 'Hello world.')

Some shortcut methods provide a standard way to add messages with commonly used tags (which are usually represented as HTML classes for the message):

messages.debug(request, '%s SQL statements were executed.' % count), 'Three credits remain in your account.')
messages.success(request, 'Profile details updated.')
messages.warning(request, 'Your account expires in three days.')
messages.error(request, 'Document deleted.')

Displaying messages

In your template, use something like:

{% if messages %}
<ul class="messages">
    {% for message in messages %}
    <li{% if message.tags %} class="{{ message.tags }}"{% endif %}>{{ message }}</li>
    {% endfor %}
{% endif %}

If you’re using the context processor, your template should be rendered with a RequestContext. Otherwise, ensure messages is available to the template context.

Even if you know there is only just one message, you should still iterate over the messages sequence, because otherwise the message storage will not be cleared for the next request.

Creating custom message levels

Messages levels are nothing more than integers, so you can define your own level constants and use them to create more customized user feedback, e.g.:


def my_view(request):
    messages.add_message(request, CRITICAL, 'A serious error occurred.')

When creating custom message levels you should be careful to avoid overloading existing levels. The values for the built-in levels are:

Level Constant Value

If you need to identify the custom levels in your HTML or CSS, you need to provide a mapping via the MESSAGE_TAGS setting.


If you are creating a reusable application, it is recommended to use only the built-in message levels and not rely on any custom levels.

Changing the minimum recorded level per-request

The minimum recorded level can be set per request via the set_level method:

from django.contrib import messages

# Change the messages level to ensure the debug message is added.
messages.set_level(request, messages.DEBUG)
messages.debug(request, 'Test message...')

# In another request, record only messages with a level of WARNING and higher
messages.set_level(request, messages.WARNING)
messages.success(request, 'Your profile was updated.') # ignored
messages.warning(request, 'Your account is about to expire.') # recorded

# Set the messages level back to default.
messages.set_level(request, None)

Similarly, the current effective level can be retrieved with get_level:

from django.contrib import messages
current_level = messages.get_level(request)

For more information on how the minimum recorded level functions, see Message levels above.

Adding extra message tags

For more direct control over message tags, you can optionally provide a string containing extra tags to any of the add methods:

messages.add_message(request, messages.INFO, 'Over 9000!',
messages.error(request, 'Email box full', extra_tags='email')

Extra tags are added before the default tag for that level and are space separated.

Failing silently when the message framework is disabled

If you’re writing a reusable app (or other piece of code) and want to include messaging functionality, but don’t want to require your users to enable it if they don’t want to, you may pass an additional keyword argument fail_silently=True to any of the add_message family of methods. For example:

messages.add_message(request, messages.SUCCESS, 'Profile details updated.',
                     fail_silently=True), 'Hello world.', fail_silently=True)


Setting fail_silently=True only hides the MessageFailure that would otherwise occur when the messages framework disabled and one attempts to use one of the add_message family of methods. It does not hide failures that may occur for other reasons.

Expiration of messages

The messages are marked to be cleared when the storage instance is iterated (and cleared when the response is processed).

To avoid the messages being cleared, you can set the messages storage to False after iterating:

storage = messages.get_messages(request)
for message in storage:
storage.used = False

Behavior of parallel requests

Due to the way cookies (and hence sessions) work, the behavior of any backends that make use of cookies or sessions is undefined when the same client makes multiple requests that set or get messages in parallel. For example, if a client initiates a request that creates a message in one window (or tab) and then another that fetches any uniterated messages in another window, before the first window redirects, the message may appear in the second window instead of the first window where it may be expected.

In short, when multiple simultaneous requests from the same client are involved, messages are not guaranteed to be delivered to the same window that created them nor, in some cases, at all. Note that this is typically not a problem in most applications and will become a non-issue in HTML5, where each window/tab will have its own browsing context.


A few Django settings give you control over message behavior:


Default: messages.INFO

This sets the minimum message that will be saved in the message storage. See Message levels above for more details.


If you override MESSAGE_LEVEL in your settings file and rely on any of the built-in constants, you must import the constants module directly to avoid the potential for circular imports, e.g.:

from django.contrib.messages import constants as message_constants
MESSAGE_LEVEL = message_constants.DEBUG

If desired, you may specify the numeric values for the constants directly according to the values in the above constants table.


Default: ''

Controls where Django stores message data. Valid values are:

  • ''
  • ''
  • ''

See Storage backends for more details.



{messages.DEBUG: 'debug',
messages.INFO: 'info',
messages.SUCCESS: 'success',
messages.WARNING: 'warning',
messages.ERROR: 'error',}

This sets the mapping of message level to message tag, which is typically rendered as a CSS class in HTML. If you specify a value, it will extend the default. This means you only have to specify those values which you need to override. See Displaying messages above for more details.


If you override MESSAGE_TAGS in your settings file and rely on any of the built-in constants, you must import the constants module directly to avoid the potential for circular imports, e.g.:

from django.contrib.messages import constants as message_constants
MESSAGE_TAGS = {message_constants.INFO: ''}

If desired, you may specify the numeric values for the constants directly according to the values in the above constants table.