Next.js environment variables

A guide on how to use Next.js environment variables

Friday, November 19, 2021

cozy environment

How to create an environment variable for Next.js

First, create a file with a starting in .env.

Depending on the run-time environment, a custom .env file can be created suce as the following:

  • .env.development - when running next dev
  • .env.production - when running next start
  • .env.local - will override .env, .env.development, and .env.production
  • .env.test - when running jest OR cypress
  • host environment variables - AWS, Heroku, Vecel, etc. provide an interface to set environment variables directly

Next, inside the created .env file, add the variables to be used

This will be accessible via proccess.env

Two types of environment variables

  1. Server-side expose variables
  2. Browser exposed variables

1. Server-side variables

Every variable set in an .env* file will be available on the server-side. Including the second type

Above variables can be used in the server-side code such as getStaticProps, getServerSideProps, or in /api

2. Browser exposed variables

Accessing the sample variables above will yield undefine. In order to make a variable available to the browser, it should be prepended with NEXT_PULIC_.

Even though there will be more keystrokes, I like this convention as it clearly distinguishes what variables are available to the client-side. It is less likely that I will expose any sensitive information to the user.

As per the variables above, it can be used anywhere in React land. For example, when setting the Google analytics key.

Another usage is for something publicly accessible but should not be committed to the repo.

Although you can still access a browser exposed variable in your server-side code, it will not make sense to do it.

Make sure any sensitive information should not be committed in the repo.


Next.js provides an easy way to set environment variables in any run-time environment. It also provides a good convention to separate variables that can be used on the client-side.