Digital Geography

24. June 2012

setting your working directory permanently in R

Most of us R users are using a special working directory for the daily work in R. But I was bothered in typing everytime

setwd("/home/rikl/wd_r")

in my command line prior using R. Also using this line at the first position in scripts was not pleasent enough.
So how to get around this? There is a special file in R for adjusting your startup-parameters. It is called “Rprofile.site”. In a linux environment you may type:

sudo gedit /etc/R/Rprofile.site

In a Windows OS you just need to search for the file mentioned above and open it up in an editor of your choice.
You will be confronted with the following lines:

##						Emacs please make this -*- R -*-
## empty Rprofile.site for R on Debian
##
## Copyright (C) 2008 Dirk Eddelbuettel and GPL'ed
##
## see help(Startup) for documentation on ~/.Rprofile and Rprofile.site

# ## Example of .Rprofile
# options(width=65, digits=5)
# options(show.signif.stars=FALSE)
# setHook(packageEvent("grDevices", "onLoad"),
#         function(...) grDevices::ps.options(horizontal=FALSE))
# set.seed(1234)
 .First <- function() cat("n   Welcome to R!nn")
 .Last <- function()  cat("n   Goodbye!nn")

# ## Example of Rprofile.site
# local({
#  # add MASS to the default packages, set a CRAN mirror
#  old <- getOption("defaultPackages"); r <- getOption("repos")
#  r["CRAN"] <- "http://my.local.cran"
#  options(defaultPackages = c(old, "MASS"), repos = r)
#})

Between the lines 14 and 15 you can set your start-up parameters. So by filling in

setwd("/home/rikl/wd_r")

the startup directory will be set permanently to your desired working directory. Of course you can also add lines like

library("sp", "rgdal")

to increase your workflow. ENJOY!

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  • dafeda

    Exactly what I was looking for, thank you.

  • Sébastien Boillat

    my RProfile.site files does not look like that (using Windows 7 64bits, R 3.2.1), I have a single line with other parameters. Where should I enter the setwd command? Furthermore, I cannot save my file into a .site file using the text editor, only .txt

  • Giovanni Giappo Laudanno

    Is there any command on R to get the address of the standard wd (not to set it)?

    • [here](http://lmgtfy.com/?q=R+get+working+directory) or in short: getwd()

      • Giovanni Giappo Laudanno

        Don’t you think that if it was so easy I would have probably solve it myself?
        If you don’t know the solution even an “I honestly don’t know” could be a decent answer…

        • what do you mean by “standard wd”?

          • Giovanni Giappo Laudanno

            Standard wd is not the current wd (that’s what you get with getwd().
            It is what you can set on Rstudio with Tools>Global Options>Default working directory.
            Before you ask: I cannot copy paste from there because I am working on different computers with different default working directories for each of them.