Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable Method

Definition

Retrieves the value of an environment variable.

Overloads

GetEnvironmentVariable(String)

Retrieves the value of an environment variable from the current process.

GetEnvironmentVariable(String, EnvironmentVariableTarget)

Retrieves the value of an environment variable from the current process or from the Windows operating system registry key for the current user or local machine.

GetEnvironmentVariable(String)

Retrieves the value of an environment variable from the current process.

public:
 static System::String ^ GetEnvironmentVariable(System::String ^ variable);
public static string GetEnvironmentVariable (string variable);
static member GetEnvironmentVariable : string -> string
Public Shared Function GetEnvironmentVariable (variable As String) As String

Parameters

variable
String

The name of the environment variable.

Returns

The value of the environment variable specified by variable, or null if the environment variable is not found.

Exceptions

variable is null.

The caller does not have the required permission to perform this operation.

Examples

The following example uses the GetEnvironmentVariable method to retrieve the windir environment variable, which contains the path of the Windows directory.

using namespace System;
using namespace System::IO;

void main()
{
      if (Environment::OSVersion->Platform == PlatformID::Win32NT)
      {
            // Change the directory to %WINDIR%
            Environment::CurrentDirectory = Environment::GetEnvironmentVariable( "windir" );
            DirectoryInfo^ info = gcnew DirectoryInfo( "." );

            Console::WriteLine("Directory Info:   {0}", info->FullName);
      }
      else
      {
            Console::WriteLine("This example runs on Windows only.");
      }
}
// The example displays output like the following on a .NET implementation running on Windows:
//        Directory Info:   C:\windows
// The example displays the following output on a .NET implementation on Unix-based systems:
//        This example runs on Windows only.
using System;
using System.IO;

public class Example
{
   public static void Main()
   {
      if (Environment.OSVersion.Platform == PlatformID.Win32NT)
      {    
         // Change the directory to %WINDIR%
         Environment.CurrentDirectory = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("windir");
         DirectoryInfo info = new DirectoryInfo(".");

         Console.WriteLine("Directory Info:   " + info.FullName);
      }
      else
      {
         Console.WriteLine("This example runs on Windows only.");
      }
   }
}
// The example displays output like the following on a .NET implementation running on Windows:
//        Directory Info:   C:\windows
// The example displays the following output on a .NET implementation on Unix-based systems:
//        This example runs on Windows only.
Imports System.IO

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
        If Environment.OSVersion.Platform = PlatformID.Win32NT Then
            ' Change the directory to %WINDIR%
            Environment.CurrentDirectory = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("windir")
            Dim info As New DirectoryInfo(".")
            Console.WriteLine("Directory Info:   " + info.FullName)
         Else
            Console.WriteLine("This example runs on Windows only.")
         End If
   End Sub
End Module
' The example displays output like the following on a .NET implementation running on Windows:
'        Directory Info:   C:\windows
' The example displays the following output on a .NET implementation on Unix-based systems:
'        This example runs on Windows only.

The following example attempts to retrieve the value of an environment variable named Test1 from the process environment block. If the variable doesn't exist, the example creates its and retrieves its value. The example displays the value of the variable. If the example created the variable, it also calls the GetEnvironmentVariables(EnvironmentVariableTarget) method with each member of the EnvironmentVariableTarget enumeration to establish that the variable can be retrieved only from the current process environment block. Finally, if the example created the variable, it deletes it.

using System;

public class Example
{
   public static void Main()
   {
      string value;
      bool toDelete = false;
      
      // Check whether the environment variable exists.
      value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1");
      // If necessary, create it.
      if (value == null) 
      {
         Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable("Test1", "Value1");
         toDelete = true;
         
         // Now retrieve it.
         value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1");
      }
      // Display the value.
      Console.WriteLine($"Test1: {value}\n");
      
      // Confirm that the value can only be retrieved from the process
      // environment block if running on a Windows system.
      if (Environment.OSVersion.Platform == PlatformID.Win32NT) 
      {
         Console.WriteLine("Attempting to retrieve Test1 from:");
         foreach (EnvironmentVariableTarget enumValue in 
                           Enum.GetValues(typeof(EnvironmentVariableTarget))) {
            value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1", enumValue);
            Console.WriteLine($"   {enumValue}: {(value != null ? "found" : "not found")}");
         }
         Console.WriteLine();
      }

      // If we've created it, now delete it.
      if (toDelete) { 
         Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable("Test1", null);
         // Confirm the deletion.
         if (Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1") == null)
            Console.WriteLine("Test1 has been deleted.");
      }         
   }
}
// The example displays the following output if run on a Windows system:
//      Test1: Value1
//
//      Attempting to retrieve Test1 from:
//         Process: found
//         User: not found
//         Machine: not found
//
//      Test1 has been deleted.
//
// The example displays the following output if run on a Unix-based system:
//      Test1: Value1
//
//      Test1 has been deleted.
Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim value As String 
      Dim toDelete As Boolean = False
      
      ' Check whether the environment variable exists.
      value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1")
      ' If necessary, create it.
      If value Is Nothing Then
         Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable("Test1", "Value1")
         toDelete = True
         
         ' Now retrieve it.
         value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1")
      End If
      ' Display the value.
      Console.WriteLine($"Test1: {value}")
      Console.WriteLine()
      
      ' Confirm that the value can only be retrieved from the process
      ' environment block if running on a Windows system.
      If Environment.OSVersion.Platform = PlatformID.Win32NT Then
         Console.WriteLine("Attempting to retrieve Test1 from:")
         For Each enumValue As EnvironmentVariableTarget In 
                           [Enum].GetValues(GetType(EnvironmentVariableTarget))
            value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1", enumValue)
            Console.WriteLine($"   {enumValue}: {If(value IsNot Nothing, "found", "not found")}")
         Next
         Console.WriteLine()
      End If

      ' If we've created it, now delete it.
      If toDelete Then 
         Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable("Test1", Nothing)
         ' Confirm the deletion.
         If Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Test1") = Nothing Then
            Console.WriteLine("Test1 has been deleted.")
         End If
      End If         
   End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output if run on a Windows system:
'      Test1: Value1
'
'      Attempting to retrieve Test1 from:
'         Process: found
'         User: not found
'         Machine: not found
'
'      Test1 has been deleted.
'
' The example displays the following output if run on a Unix-based system:
'      Test1: Value1
'
'      Test1 has been deleted.

Remarks

The GetEnvironmentVariable(String) method retrieves an environment variable from the environment block of the current process only. It is equivalent to calling the GetEnvironmentVariable(String, EnvironmentVariableTarget) method with a target value of EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process.

To retrieve all environment variables along with their values, call the GetEnvironmentVariables method.

Environment variable names are case-sensitive on Linux and macOS but are not case-sensitive on Windows.

On Windows systems

On Windows systems, the environment block of the current process includes:

  • All environment variables that are provided to it by the parent process that created it. For example, a .NET application launched from a console window inherits all of the console window's environment variables.

    If there is no parent process, per-machine and per-user environment variables are used instead. For example, a new console window has all per-machine and per-user environment variables defined at the time it was launched.

  • Any variables added to the process block while the process is running by calling either the SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String) method or the SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String, EnvironmentVariableTarget) method with a target value of EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process. These environment variables persist until the .NET application terminates.

If environment variables are created after the process has started, you can use this method to retrieve only those variables that were created by calling the SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String) method or the SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String, EnvironmentVariableTarget) method with a target value of .EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process.

On macOS and Linux systems

On macOS and Linux, the environment block of the current process includes the following environment variables:

.NET Core on macOS and Linux does not support per-machine or per-user environment variables.

Security

EnvironmentPermission
for the ability to read the value of variable. Associated enumeration: Read

See also

GetEnvironmentVariable(String, EnvironmentVariableTarget)

Retrieves the value of an environment variable from the current process or from the Windows operating system registry key for the current user or local machine.

public:
 static System::String ^ GetEnvironmentVariable(System::String ^ variable, EnvironmentVariableTarget target);
public static string GetEnvironmentVariable (string variable, EnvironmentVariableTarget target);
static member GetEnvironmentVariable : string * EnvironmentVariableTarget -> string
Public Shared Function GetEnvironmentVariable (variable As String, target As EnvironmentVariableTarget) As String

Parameters

variable
String

The name of an environment variable.

target
EnvironmentVariableTarget

One of the EnvironmentVariableTarget values. Only Process is supported on .NET Core running on Unix-bases systems.

Returns

The value of the environment variable specified by the variable and target parameters, or null if the environment variable is not found.

Exceptions

variable is null.

target is not a valid EnvironmentVariableTarget value.

The caller does not have the required permission to perform this operation.

Examples

The following example creates environment variables for the EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process, EnvironmentVariableTarget.User, and Machine targets, checks whether the operating system registry contains the user and machine environment variables, then deletes the environment variables. Because .NET on Unix-based systems does not support per-user and per-machine environment variables, only SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String) and SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String, EnvironmentVariableTarget) with a value of EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process successfully store an environment variable to the process environment block.

using System;
using System.Collections;
using Microsoft.Win32;

class Sample 
{
    public static void Main() 
    {
        // Environment variable names for default, process, user, and machine targets.
        string defaultEnvVar = nameof(defaultEnvVar);
        string processEnvVar = nameof(processEnvVar);
        string userEnvVar = nameof(userEnvVar);
        string machineEnvVar = nameof(machineEnvVar);

        string dft = nameof(dft);
        string process = nameof(process);
        string user = nameof(user);
        string machine = nameof(machine);

        // Set the environment variable for each target.
        Console.WriteLine("Setting environment variables for each target...\n");
        // The default target (the current process).
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(defaultEnvVar, dft);
        // The current process.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(processEnvVar, process, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process);
        // The current user.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(userEnvVar, user, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.User);
        // The local machine.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(machineEnvVar, machine, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine);

        // Define an array of environment variables.
        string[] envVars = { defaultEnvVar,processEnvVar, userEnvVar, machineEnvVar };
        
        // Try to get the environment variables from each target.
        // The default (no specified target).
        Console.WriteLine("Retrieving environment variables from the default target:");
        foreach (var envVar in envVars)
        {
          var value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar) ?? "(none)";
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {value}");
        }
        // The process block.
        Console.WriteLine("\nRetrieving environment variables from the Process target:");
        foreach (var envVar in envVars)
        {
          var value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar, EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process) ?? "(none)";
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {value}");
        }
        // The user block.
        Console.WriteLine("\nRetrieving environment variables from the User target:");
        foreach (var envVar in envVars)
        {
          var value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar, EnvironmentVariableTarget.User) ?? "(none)";
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {value}");
        }
        // The machine block.
        Console.WriteLine("\nRetrieving environment variables from the Machine target:");
        foreach (var envVar in envVars)
        {
          var value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar, EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine) ?? "(none)";
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {value}");
        }

        // Delete the environment variable for each target.
        Console.WriteLine("\nDeleting environment variables for each target...\n");
        // The default target (the current process).
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(defaultEnvVar, null);
        // The current process.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(processEnvVar, null, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process);
        // The current user.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(userEnvVar, null, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.User);
        // The local machine.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(machineEnvVar, null, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine);
    }
}
// The example displays the following output if run on a Windows system:
//      Setting environment variables for each target...
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the default target:
//        defaultEnvVar: dft
//        processEnvVar: process
//        userEnvVar: user
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the Process target:
//        defaultEnvVar: dft
//        processEnvVar: process
//        userEnvVar: user
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the User target:
//        defaultEnvVar: (none)
//        processEnvVar: (none)
//        userEnvVar: user
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the Machine target:
//        defaultEnvVar: (none)
//        processEnvVar: (none)
//        userEnvVar: (none)
//        machineEnvVar: machine
//
//      Deleting environment variables for each target...
//
// The example displays the following output if run on a Unix-based system:
//
//      Setting environment variables for each target...
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the default target:
//        defaultEnvVar: dft
//        processEnvVar: process
//        userEnvVar: (none)
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the Process target:
//        defaultEnvVar: dft
//        processEnvVar: process
//        userEnvVar: (none)
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the User target:
//        defaultEnvVar: (none)
//        processEnvVar: (none)
//        userEnvVar: (none)
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Retrieving environment variables from the Machine target:
//        defaultEnvVar: (none)
//        processEnvVar: (none)
//        userEnvVar: (none)
//        machineEnvVar: (none)
//
//      Deleting environment variables for each target...
Imports System.Collections
Imports Microsoft.Win32

Module Sample 
    Public Sub Main() 
        ' Environment variable names for default, process, user, and machine targets.
        Dim defaultEnvVar As String = NameOf(defaultEnvVar)
        Dim processEnvVar As String = NameOf(processEnvVar)
        Dim userEnvVar As String = NameOf(userEnvVar)
        Dim machineEnvVar As String = NameOf(machineEnvVar)

        Dim dft As String = NameOf(dft)
        Dim process As String = NameOf(process)
        Dim user As String = NameOf(user)
        Dim machine As String = NameOf(machine)

        ' Set the environment variable for each target.
        Console.WriteLine("Setting environment variables for each target...")
        ' The default target (the current process).
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(defaultEnvVar, dft)
        ' The current process.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(processEnvVar, process, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process)
        ' The current user.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(userEnvVar, user, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.User)
        ' The local machine.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(machineEnvVar, machine, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine)
        Console.WriteLine()

        ' Define an array of environment variables.
        Dim envVars As String() = { defaultEnvVar, processEnvVar, userEnvVar, machineEnvVar }
        
        ' Try to get the environment variables from each target.
        ' The default (no specified target).
        Console.WriteLine("Retrieving environment variables from the default target:")
        For Each envVar in envVars
          Dim value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar)
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {If(value IsNot Nothing, value, "(none)")}")
        Next
        Console.WriteLine()
        ' The process block.
        Console.WriteLine("Retrieving environment variables from the Process target:")
        For Each envVar in envVars
          Dim value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar, EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process)
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {If(value IsNot Nothing, value, "(none)")}")
        Next
        Console.WriteLine()
        ' The user block.
        Console.WriteLine("Retrieving environment variables from the User target:")
        For Each envVar in envVars
          Dim value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar, EnvironmentVariableTarget.User)
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {value}")
        Next
        Console.WriteLine()
        ' The machine block.
        Console.WriteLine("Retrieving environment variables from the Machine target:")
        For Each envVar in envVars
          Dim value = Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable(envVar, EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine)
          Console.WriteLine($"   {envVar}: {value}")
        Next
        Console.WriteLine()

        ' Delete the environment variable for each target.
        Console.WriteLine("Deleting environment variables for each target...")
        ' The default target (the current process).
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(defaultEnvVar, Nothing)
        ' The current process.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(processEnvVar, Nothing, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process)
        ' The current user.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(userEnvVar, Nothing, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.User)
        ' The local machine.
        Environment.SetEnvironmentVariable(machineEnvVar, Nothing, 
                                           EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine)
    End Sub
End Module
' The example displays the following output if run on a Windows system:
'      Setting environment variables for each target...
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the default target:
'        defaultEnvVar: dft
'        processEnvVar: process
'        userEnvVar: user
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the Process target:
'        defaultEnvVar: dft
'        processEnvVar: process
'        userEnvVar: user
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the User target:
'        defaultEnvVar: (none)
'        processEnvVar: (none)
'        userEnvVar: user
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the Machine target:
'        defaultEnvVar: (none)
'        processEnvVar: (none)
'        userEnvVar: (none)
'        machineEnvVar: machine
'
'      Deleting environment variables for each target...
'
' The example displays the following output if run on a Unix-based system:
'
'      Setting environment variables for each target...
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the default target:
'        defaultEnvVar: dft
'        processEnvVar: process
'        userEnvVar: (none)
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the Process target:
'        defaultEnvVar: dft
'        processEnvVar: process
'        userEnvVar: (none)
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the User target:
'        defaultEnvVar: (none)
'        processEnvVar: (none)
'        userEnvVar: (none)
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Retrieving environment variables from the Machine target:
'        defaultEnvVar: (none)
'        processEnvVar: (none)
'        userEnvVar: (none)
'        machineEnvVar: (none)
'
'      Deleting environment variables for each target...

Remarks

To retrieve all environment variables along with their values, call the GetEnvironmentVariables method.

Environment variable names are case-sensitive on Linux and macOS but are not case-sensitive on Windows.

On Windows systems

On Windows, the target parameter specifies whether the environment variable is retrieved from the current process or from the Windows operating system registry key for the current user or local machine. All per-user and per-machine environment variables are automatically copied into the environment block of the current process, as are any other environment variables that are available to the parent process that created the .NET process. However, environment variables added only to the environment block of the current process by calling either the SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String) method or the SetEnvironmentVariable(String, String, EnvironmentVariableTarget) method with a target value of EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process persist only for the duration of the process.

On macOS and Linux systems

On macOS and Linux, the GetEnvironmentVariable(String, EnvironmentVariableTarget) method supports a target value of EnvironmentVariableTarget.Process only. Calls with a target value of EnvironmentVariableTarget.Machine or EnvironmentVariableTarget.User are not supported and return null.

Per-process environment variables are:

Security

EnvironmentPermission
for the ability to read the value of variable if target is Process (Associated enumeration: Read), or for full access to environment variables if target is User or Machine (Associated enumeration: Unrestricted).

See also

Applies to