A Django settings file contains all the configuration of your Django installation. This document explains how settings work and which settings are available.
A settings file is just a Python module with module-level variables.
Here are a couple of example settings:
DEBUG = False DEFAULT_FROM_EMAIL = 'email@example.com' TEMPLATE_DIRS = ('/home/templates/mike', '/home/templates/john')
Because a settings file is a Python module, the following apply:
It doesn’t allow for Python syntax errors.
It can assign settings dynamically using normal Python syntax. For example:
MY_SETTING = [str(i) for i in range(30)]
It can import values from other settings files.
Designating the settings¶
When you use Django, you have to tell it which settings you’re using. Do this
by using an environment variable,
The value of
DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE should be in Python path syntax, e.g.
mysite.settings. Note that the settings module should be on the
Python import search path.
The django-admin.py utility¶
When using django-admin.py, you can either set the environment variable once, or explicitly pass in the settings module each time you run the utility.
Example (Unix Bash shell):
export DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=mysite.settings django-admin.py runserver
Example (Windows shell):
set DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE=mysite.settings django-admin.py runserver
--settings command-line argument to specify the settings manually:
django-admin.py runserver --settings=mysite.settings
On the server (mod_wsgi)¶
In your live server environment, you’ll need to tell your WSGI
application what settings file to use. Do that with
import os os.environ['DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE'] = 'mysite.settings'
Read the Django mod_wsgi documentation for more information and other common elements to a Django WSGI application.
A Django settings file doesn’t have to define any settings if it doesn’t need
to. Each setting has a sensible default value. These defaults live in the
Here’s the algorithm Django uses in compiling settings:
- Load settings from
- Load settings from the specified settings file, overriding the global settings as necessary.
Note that a settings file should not import from
Using settings in Python code¶
In your Django apps, use settings by importing the object
from django.conf import settings if settings.DEBUG: # Do something
django.conf.settings isn’t a module – it’s an object. So
importing individual settings is not possible:
from django.conf.settings import DEBUG # This won't work.
Also note that your code should not import from either
your own settings file.
django.conf.settings abstracts the concepts of
default settings and site-specific settings; it presents a single interface.
It also decouples the code that uses settings from the location of your
Altering settings at runtime¶
You shouldn’t alter settings in your applications at runtime. For example, don’t do this in a view:
from django.conf import settings settings.DEBUG = True # Don't do this!
The only place you should assign to settings is in a settings file.
Because a settings file contains sensitive information, such as the database password, you should make every attempt to limit access to it. For example, change its file permissions so that only you and your Web server’s user can read it. This is especially important in a shared-hosting environment.
Creating your own settings¶
There’s nothing stopping you from creating your own settings, for your own Django apps. Just follow these conventions:
- Setting names are in all uppercase.
- Don’t reinvent an already-existing setting.
For settings that are sequences, Django itself uses tuples, rather than lists, but this is only a convention.
Using settings without setting DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE¶
In some cases, you might want to bypass the
environment variable. For example, if you’re using the template system by
itself, you likely don’t want to have to set up an environment variable
pointing to a settings module.
In these cases, you can configure Django’s settings manually. Do this by calling:
from django.conf import settings settings.configure(DEBUG=True, TEMPLATE_DEBUG=True, TEMPLATE_DIRS=('/home/web-apps/myapp', '/home/web-apps/base'))
configure() as many keyword arguments as you’d like, with each keyword
argument representing a setting and its value. Each argument name should be all
uppercase, with the same name as the settings described above. If a particular
setting is not passed to
configure() and is needed at some later point,
Django will use the default setting value.
Configuring Django in this fashion is mostly necessary – and, indeed, recommended – when you’re using a piece of the framework inside a larger application.
Consequently, when configured via
settings.configure(), Django will not
make any modifications to the process environment variables (see the
TIME_ZONE for why this would normally occur). It’s
assumed that you’re already in full control of your environment in these
Custom default settings¶
If you’d like default values to come from somewhere other than
django.conf.global_settings, you can pass in a module or class that
provides the default settings as the
default_settings argument (or as the
first positional argument) in the call to
In this example, default settings are taken from
myapp_defaults, and the
DEBUG setting is set to
True, regardless of its value in
from django.conf import settings from myapp import myapp_defaults settings.configure(default_settings=myapp_defaults, DEBUG=True)
The following example, which uses
myapp_defaults as a positional argument,
Normally, you will not need to override the defaults in this fashion. The
Django defaults are sufficiently tame that you can safely use them. Be aware
that if you do pass in a new default module, it entirely replaces the Django
defaults, so you must specify a value for every possible setting that might be
used in that code you are importing. Check in
django.conf.settings.global_settings for the full list.
Either configure() or DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE is required¶
If you’re not setting the
DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable, you
configure() at some point before using any code that reads
If you don’t set
DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE and don’t call
Django will raise an
ImportError exception the first time a setting
If you set
DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE, access settings values somehow, then
configure(), Django will raise a
that settings have already been configured. There is a property just for this
from django.conf import settings if not settings.configured: settings.configure(myapp_defaults, DEBUG=True)
Also, it’s an error to call
configure() more than once, or to call
configure() after any setting has been accessed.
It boils down to this: Use exactly one of either
DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE. Not both, and not neither.