Project profiles


Starting with renv 0.13.0, it is possible to activate and switch between different profiles associated with a project. A profile can be thought of as a different mode in which a project is used. For example:

At its heart, activating or using a particular profile implies using a different set of paths for the project library and lockfile. With this, it is possible to associate different packages, and different dependencies, with different workflows in a single project using renv.


By default, renv projects use the “default” profile, which implies that library and lockfile paths are set in the typical way. To activate a particular profile, use:

renv::activate(profile = "dev")

This creates a profile called "dev", and sets it as the default for the project, so that newly-launched R sessions will operate using the "dev" profile. After setting this and re-launching R, you should see that the project library and lockfile paths are resolved within the renv/profiles/dev folder from the project root.

Alternatively, if you want to activate a particular profile for an R session without setting it as the default for new R sessions, you can use:

Sys.setenv(RENV_PROFILE = "dev")

and renv will automatically use that profile as appropriate when computing library and lockfile paths. Similarly, from the command line, you might enforce the use of a particular profile in an renv project with:

export RENV_PROFILE=dev

With that set, renv would default to using the "dev" profile for any newly-launched R sessions within renv projects.

To activate the “default” profile used by a project, use:

renv::activate(profile = "default")

Managing profile-specific dependencies

Profile-specific package dependencies can be declared within the project’s top-level DESCRIPTION file. For example, to declare that the shiny profile depends on the shiny and tidyverse packages:

Config/renv/profiles/shiny/dependencies: shiny, tidyverse

If you’d like to also declare that these packages should be installed from a custom remote (analogous to the Remotes field for the default profile), you can define those remotes with a separate field:

Config/renv/profiles/shiny/remotes: rstudio/shiny, tidyverse/tidyverse

These remotes will then be respected in calls to renv::install().

The packages and remotes must be specified separately, as renv cannot determine the package name associated with a particular remote without explicitly resolving that remote. Remote resolution normally requires a web request, which renv tries to avoid in “regular” dependency discovery.

If you’d prefer that only the packages enumerated in this field are used, you can opt-in to using "explicit" snapshots, and leave the Imports, Depends and Suggests fields blank:


When set, only the dependencies listed in the project DESCRIPTION file will be used when the lockfile is generated. See ?renv::snapshot for more details.