Run dotdrop --help to see all available options.


The default profile used by dotdrop is the hostname of the host you are running dotdrop on.

It can be changed:

  • Using the command line switch -p/--profile=<profile>
  • By defining it in the env variable DOTDROP_PROFILE

List profiles

The profiles command lists the profiles defined in the config file.

$ dotdrop profiles

Dotdrop allows to choose which profile to use with the --profile switch if you use something other than the default (the hostname).

The default profile can also be changed by defining the DOTDROP_PROFILE environment variable.

Import dotfiles

The import command imports dotfiles to be managed by dotdrop. It copies the dotfile to your dotpath and updates the config file with the new entry.

Dotdrop will ask whether to dereference symlinks on import unless -f/--force is used.

For example, to import ~/.xinitrc:

$ dotdrop import ~/.xinitrc
    -> "/home/user/.xinitrc" imported

1 file(s) imported.

You can control how the dotfile key is generated in the config file with the following config entries:

  • longkey
    • false (default): take the shortest unique path
    • true take the full path
  • key_prefix: defines if the key is prefixed with f<key_separator> for file and d<key_separator> for directory
  • key_separator: defines the separator to use (defaults to _)

For example, ~/.config/awesome/rc.lua gives:

  • f_rc.lua in the short format
  • f_config_awesome_rc.lua in the long format

Importing ~/.mutt/colors and then ~/.vim/colors will result in:

  • d_colors and d_vim_colors in the short format
  • d_mutt_colors and d_vim_colors in the long format

It is possible to import a dotfile while pretending it was at a different path with the use of --as what will effectively modify the src path of the generated dotfile entry in the config as well as the location of the file in the dotpath. The argument to --as is expected to be an absolute path and will be made absolute in case it isn't (specifying --as test will result in something like --as <current-working-directory>/test). It is however recommended to use templating to avoid duplicates and optimize dotfile management instead of using --as.

# imported to <dotpath>/zshrc.test
$ dotdrop import ~/.zshrc --as=~/.zshrc.test

see issue #220 and issue #368.

By importing a path using the profile special keyword ALL, a dotfile will be created in the config but won't be associated to any profile.

To ignore specific patterns during import, see the ignore patterns.

For more options, see the usage with dotdrop --help.

Install dotfiles

The install command installs/deploys dotfiles managed by dotdrop from the dotpath to their destinations.

$ dotdrop install

A dotfile will be installed only if it differs from the version already present at its destination.

Some available options:

  • -t/--temp: Install the dotfile(s) to a temporary directory for review (helping to debug templating issues, for example). Note that actions are not executed in this mode.
  • -a/--force-actions: Force the execution of actions even if the dotfiles are not installed (see Fake dotfile and actions as an alternative)
  • -f/--force: Do not ask for any confirmation
  • -W/--workdir-clear: Clear the workdir before installing dotfiles (see the config entry clear_workdir)
  • -R/remove-existing: Applies to directory dotfiles only (nolink) and will remove files not managed by dotdrop in the destination directory

To ignore specific patterns during installation, see the ignore patterns.

For more options, see the usage with dotdrop --help.

Compare dotfiles

The compare command compares dotfiles at their destinations with the ones stored in your dotpath.

$ dotdrop compare

The diffing is done with the UNIX tool diff as the backend; one can provide a specific diff command using the config entry diff_command.

You can specify against which destination file to compare:

$ dotdrop compare -C ~/.vimrc

To ignore specific patterns, see the ignore patterns.

To completely ignore all files not present in dotpath see Ignore missing.

If you want to get notified on files present in the workdir but not tracked by dotdrop see the compare_workdir.

For more options, see the usage with dotdrop --help.

List dotfiles

The files command lists the dotfiles declared for a specific profile.

$ dotdrop files --profile=some-profile
    -> dst: /home/user/.xinitrc
    -> src: /home/user/dotdrop/dotfiles/xinitrc
    -> link: nolink

By using the -T/--template switch, only the dotfiles that are using templating are listed.

It is also possible to list all the files related to each dotfile entry by invoking the detail command, for example:

$ dotdrop detail
dotfiles details for profile "some-profile":
f_xinitrc (dst: "/home/user/.xinitrc", link: nolink)
    -> /home/user/dotdrop/dotfiles/xinitrc (template:no)

This is especially useful when the dotfile entry is a directory and one wants to have information on the different files it contains (does a specific file uses templating, etc.).

For more options, see the usage with dotdrop --help.

Update dotfiles

The update command updates a dotfile managed by dotdrop by copying the dotfile from the filesystem to the dotpath. Only dotfiles that have differences with the stored version are updated. A confirmation is requested from the user before any overwrite/update unless the -f/--force switch is used.

Either provide the path of the file containing the new version of the dotfile or provide the dotfile key to update (as found in the config file) along with the -k/--key switch. When using the -k/--key switch and no key is provided, all dotfiles for that profile are updated.

## update by path
$ dotdrop update ~/.vimrc

## update by key with the --key switch
$ dotdrop update --key f_vimrc

If not argument is provided, all dotfiles for the selected profile are updated.

To ignore specific patterns, see the dedicated page.

To completely ignore all files not present in dotpath, see Ignore missing.

There are two cases when updating a dotfile:

The dotfile does not use templating

The new version of the dotfile is copied to the dotpath directory and overwrites the old version. If Git is used to version the dotfiles stored by dotdrop, the Git command diff can be used to view the changes.

$ dotdrop update ~/.vimrc
$ git diff

The dotfile uses templating

The dotfile must be manually updated; three solutions can be used to identify the changes to apply to the template:

  • Use the compare command:
## use compare to identify change(s)
$ dotdrop compare --file=~/.vimrc
  • Call update with the -P/--show-patch switch, which provides an ad-hoc solution to manually patch the template file using a temporary generated version of the template. (This isn't a bullet-proof solution and might need manual checking.)
## get an ad-hoc solution to manually patch the template
$ dotdrop update --show-patch ~/.vimrc
[WARN] /home/user/dotfiles/vimrc uses template, update manually
[WARN] try patching with: "diff -u /tmp/dotdrop-sbx6hw0r /home/user/.vimrc | patch /home/user/dotfiles/vimrc"
  • Install the dotfiles to a temporary directory (using the install command and the -t switch) and compare the generated dotfile with the local one:
## use install to identify change(s)
$ dotdrop install -t -t f_vimrc
Installed to tmp /tmp/dotdrop-6ajz7565
$ diff ~/.vimrc /tmp/dotdrop-6ajz7565/home/user/.vimrc

Remove dotfiles

The command remove allows to stop managing a specific dotfile with dotdrop. It will:

  • remove the entry from the config file (under dotfiles and profile)
  • delete the file from the dotpath

For more options, see the usage with dotdrop --help.

Uninstall dotfiles

The uninstall command removes dotfiles installed by dotdrop

$ dotdrop uninstall

It will remove the installed dotfiles related to the provided key (or all dotfiles if not provided) of the selected profile.

If a backup exists (backup entry), the file will be restored.

For more options, see the usage with dotdrop --help.


The command line switch -w/--workers, if set to a value greater than one, enables the use of multiple concurrent workers to execute an operation. It can be applied to the following commands:

  • install
  • compare
  • update

It should be set to a maximum of the number of cores available (usually returned on linux by the command nproc).

It may speed up the operation but cannot be used interactively (it needs -f/--force to be set except for compare) and cannot be used with -d/--dry. Also, information printed to stdout/stderr will probably be messed up.

WARNING: This feature hasn't been extensively tested and is to be used at your own risk. If you try it out and find any issues, please report them. Also, if you find it useful and have been able to successfully speed up your operation when using -w/--workers, do please also report it in an issue.

Environment variables

The following environment variables can be used to specify different CLI options. Note that CLI switches take precedence over environment variables (except for DOTDROP_FORCE_NODEBUG)

  • DOTDROP_PROFILE: -p/--profile
export DOTDROP_PROFILE="my-fancy-profile"
  • DOTDROP_CONFIG: -c/--cfg
export DOTDROP_CONFIG="/home/user/dotdrop/config.yaml"
  • DOTDROP_NOBANNER: -b/--no-banner
  • DOTDROP_DEBUG: -V/--verbose
  • DOTDROP_FORCE_NODEBUG: disable debug output even if -V/--verbose is provided or DOTDROP_DEBUG is set
  • DOTDROP_TMPDIR: defines a temporary directory for dotdrop to use for its operations instead of using a system generated one
export DOTDROP_TMPDIR="/tmp/dotdrop-tmp"
  • DOTDROP_WORKDIR: overwrite the workdir defined in the config
export DOTDROP_WORKDIR="/tmp/dotdrop-workdir"
  • DOTDROP_WORKERS: overwrite the -w/--workers cli argument