Manage and configure projects in Azure Notebooks Preview


On October 9, 2020 the Azure Notebooks public preview site will be retired and replaced with integrated services from Visual Studio, Azure, and GitHub. Learn more about your options and our other notebooks experiences from Microsoft.

This preview version is provided without a service level agreement, and it's not recommended for production workloads. Certain features might not be supported or might have constrained capabilities. For more information, see Supplemental Terms of Use for Microsoft Azure Previews.

A project in Azure Notebooks Preview is essentially a configuration of the underlying Linux virtual machine in which Jupyter notebooks run, along with a file folder and descriptive metadata.

The project dashboard in Azure Notebooks allows you to manage files and otherwise configure the project's characteristics:

  • The compute tier on which the project runs, which can be the free tier or an Azure virtual machine.
  • Project metadata, which includes a name, description, an identifier that's used when sharing the project, and whether the project is public or private.
  • The project's notebook, data, and other files, which you manage like any other file system.
  • A project's environment, which you manage either through startup scripts or directly through the terminal.
  • Logs, which you access through the terminal.


The management and configuration features described here are available only to the project owner who created the project initially. You can, however, clone the project into your own account, in which case you become the owner and can configure the project as desired.

Azure Notebooks starts the underlying virtual machine whenever you run a notebook or other file. The server automatically saves files and shuts down after 60 minutes of inactivity. You can also stop the server at any time with the Shutdown command (keyboard shortcut: h).

Compute tier

By default, projects run on the Free Compute tier, which is limited to 4GB of memory and 1GB of data to prevent abuse. You can bypass these limitations and increase compute power by using a different virtual machine that you've provisioned in an Azure subscription. For more information, see How to use Data Science Virtual Machines.

Edit project metadata

On the project dashboard, select Project Settings, then select the Information tab, which contains the project's metadata as described in the following table. You can change project metadata at any time.

Setting Description
Project name A friendly name for your project that Azure Notebooks uses for display purposes. For example, "Hello World in Python".
Project ID A custom identifier that becomes part of the URL you use to share a project. This ID can use only letters, numbers, and hyphens, is limited to 30 characters, and cannot be a reserved project ID. If you're unsure what to use, a common convention is to use a lowercase version of your project name where spaces are turned into hyphens, such as "my-notebook-project" (truncated if necessary to fit the length limit).
Public project If set, allows anyone with the link to access the project. When creating a private project, clear this option.
Hide clones If set, other users can't see a list of clones that have been made for this project. Hiding clones is useful for projects that are shared with many people who are not part of the same organization, such as when using a notebook for teaching a class.


Changing the project ID invalidates any links to the project that you might have shared previously.

Manage project files

The project dashboard shows the contents of the project's folder system. You can use various commands to manage those files.

Create new files and folders

The + New command (keyboard shortcut: n) creates new files or folders. When using the command, first select the type of item to create:

Item type Description Command behavior
Notebook A Jupyter notebook Displays a popup in which you specify the notebook's filename and language.
Folder A subfolder Creates an edit field in the project's file list into which you enter the folder name.
Blank File A file into which you can store any content such as text, data, etc. Creates an edit field in the project's file list into which you enter the file name.
Markdown A Markdown file. Creates an edit field in the project's file list into which you enter the file name.

Upload files

The Upload command provides two options to import data from other locations: From URL and From Computer. For more information, see Work with data files in Azure Notebook projects.

Select file-specific commands

Each item in the project's file list provides commands through a right-click context menu:

Commands on a file context menu

Command Keyboard shortcut Action
Run r (or click) Runs a notebook file. Other file types are opened for viewing.
Copy Link y Copies a link to the file to the clipboard.
Run in Jupyter Lab j Runs a notebook in JupyterLab, which is a more developer-oriented interface than Jupyter normally provides.
Preview p Opens an HTML preview of the file; for notebooks, the preview is a read-only rendering of the notebook. For more information, see the Preview section.
Edit file i Opens the file for editing.
Download d Downloads a zip file that contains the file or the contents of a folder.
Rename a Prompts for a new name for the file or folder.
Delete x Prompts for confirmation, then permanently removes the file from the project. Deletions cannot be undone.
Move m Moves a file into a different folder in the same project.


A preview of a file or notebook is a read-only view of the contents; running notebook cells is disabled. A preview is shown to anyone that has a link to the file or notebook but has not signed into Azure Notebooks. Once signed in, a user can clone the notebook to their own account, or they can download the notebook to their local computer.

The preview page supports several toolbar commands with keyboard shortcuts:

Command Keyboard shortcut Action
Share s Displays the sharing popup from which you can obtain a link, share to social media, obtain HTML for embedding, and send an email.
Clone c Clone the notebook to your account.
Run r Runs the notebook if you're allowed to do so.
Download d Downloads a copy of the notebook.

Configure the project environment

There are three ways to configure the environment of the underlying virtual machine in which your notebooks run:

  • Include a one-time initialization script
  • Use the project's environment settings to specify setup steps
  • Access the virtual machine through a terminal.

All forms of project configuration are applied whenever the virtual machine is started, and thus affects all notebooks within the project.

One-time initialization script

The first-time Azure Notebooks creates a server for the project, it looks for a file in the project called If this file is present, Azure Notebooks runs it. The output of the script is stored in your project folder as .aznbsetup.log.

Environment setup steps

You can use the project's environment settings to create individual steps that configure the environment.

On the project dashboard, select Project Settings, then select the Environment tab in which you add, remove, and modify setup steps for the project:

Project settings popup with Environment tab selected

To add a step, first select + Add, then select a step type in the Operation drop-down list:

Operation selector for a new Environment setup step

The information you then project depends on the type of operation you chose:

  • Requirements.txt: In the second drop-down list, select a requirements.txt file that's already in the project. Then select a Python version from the third drop-down list that appears. By using a requirements.txt file, Azure Notebooks runs pip install -r with the requirements.txt file when starting a notebook server. You don't need to explicitly install packages from within the notebook itself.

  • Shell script: In the second drop-down list, select a bash shell script in the project (typically a file with the .sh extension) that contains any commands you wish to run to initialize the environment.

  • Environment.yml: In the second drop-down list, select an environments.yml file for Python projects using a conda environment.


    As this is a preview service under development, there is currently a known issue where the Environment.yml setting does not get applied to your project as expected. The project and the Jupyter notebooks within do not load the specified environment file at present.

When you're done adding steps, select Save.

Use the terminal

On the project dashboard, the Terminal command opens a Linux terminal that gives you direct access to the server. Within the terminal you can download data, edit or manage files, inspect processes, and even use tools like vi and nano.


If you have startup scripts in your project's environment, opening the terminal may display a message indicating that setup is still in progress.

You can issue any standard Linux commands in the terminal. You can also use ls in the home folder to see the different environments that exist on the virtual machine, such as anaconda2_501, anaconda3_420, anaconda3_501, IfSharp, and R, along with a project folder that contains the project:

Project terminal in Azure Notebooks

To affect a specific environment, change directories into that environment folder first.

For the Python environments, you can find pip and conda in bin folder of each environment. You can also use built-in aliases for the environments:

# Anaconda 2 5.3.0/Python 2.7: python27
python27 -m pip install <package>

# Anaconda 3 4.2.0/Python 3.5: python35
python35 -m pip install <package>

# Anaconda 3 5.3.0/Python 3.6: python36
python36 -m pip install <package>

Changes made to the server apply only to the current session, except for files and folders you create in the project folder itself. For example, editing a file in the project folder is persisted between sessions, but packages with pip install are not.


If you use python or python3, you invoke the system-installed versions of Python, which are not used for notebooks. You don't have permissions for operations like pip install either, so be sure to use the version-specific aliases.

Access notebook logs

If you run into issues when running a notebook, output from Jupyter is stored in a folder named .nb.log. You can access these logs through the Terminal command or the project dashboard.

Typically when you're running Jupyter locally you may have started it from a terminal window. The terminal window shows output such as kernel status.

To view logs, use the following command in the terminal:

cat .nb.log

You can also use the command from a code cell in a Python notebook:

!cat .nb.log

Next steps