Tip of the Day: User-based Settings Configuration for Python With Dynaconf

Configurations vary substantially across deployments, but code does (should) not change. An important approach to configuration management is to use config files.

dynaconf is one of my favourite packages for achieving this in Python. However, setting up user-based configurations (as opposed to app-based) can be a little tricky. A typical example would be a CLI app that can be installed for multiple users or across different machines.


As per this GitHub issue, dynaconf, by default, loads settings based on the “present working directory” (pwd). Thus, if you have a CLI app that’s installed (e.g., pip install mypackage or pip install -e .), the settings will be properly loaded only if the CLI commands are run in the directory with with dynaconf settings files (e.g., settings.toml). This does not bode well if we want to store our settings in a user’s home directory (e.g., ~/.mypackage.toml), similar to how .zshrc, .bashrc, and .profile are stored.

Loading a User-config File

Given a typical Python package, e.g., mypackage:

├── mypackage
│   ├── __init__.py
│   ├── foo.py
│   ├── bar.py
├── README.md
├── requirements.txt
└── setup.py

We can set up the __init__.py file like so:

from pathlib import Path

from dynaconf import LazySettings  # type: ignore

DYNACONF_SETTINGS_FILE = Path.home() / ".mypackage.toml"
settings = LazySettings(

Then, in foo.py and bar.py, we can load settings like so:

from mypackage import settings

# settings work like typical dynaconf settings, e.g.:
user = settings.USERNAME
email = settings.EMAIL
password = settings.PASSWORD

Using this example, the settings are actually loaded from ~/.mypackage.toml, allowing the user to define their settings as they see fit.

Nicholas Nadeau, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Nicholas Nadeau, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Founder / Fractional CTO

Nicholas Nadeau is a fractional CTO empowering startups with next-gen technology expertise, and a passion for driving corporate innovation. Stay informed on cutting-edge hard tech trends - subscribe to my newsletter. Ready to innovate? Discover my services and accelerate your growth.