Java System getenv() Method

The System.getenv() method in Java is used to obtain the value of an environment variable.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. getenv() Method Syntax
  3. Examples
    • Getting a Specific Environment Variable
    • Getting All Environment Variables
  4. Real-World Use Case
  5. Conclusion


The System.getenv() method is a part of the System class in Java. It is used to retrieve the value of environment variables from the system. Environment variables are key-value pairs used by the operating system to pass configuration information to applications.

getenv() Method Syntax

The System.getenv() method comes in two forms:

  1. To get the value of a specific environment variable:

    public static String getenv(String name)


    • name: The name of the environment variable.


    • The value of the specified environment variable, or null if the environment variable does not exist.
  2. To get all environment variables:

    public static Map<String, String> getenv()


    • An unmodifiable map of all environment variables.


Getting a Specific Environment Variable

To demonstrate how to get a specific environment variable, we will retrieve the value of the JAVA_HOME environment variable.


public class GetEnvExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String javaHome = System.getenv("JAVA_HOME");

        if (javaHome != null) {
            System.out.println("JAVA_HOME: " + javaHome);
        } else {
            System.out.println("JAVA_HOME is not set.");


JAVA_HOME: /path/to/java/home (example output)

Getting All Environment Variables

To get all environment variables, you can use the getenv() method without any parameters.


import java.util.Map;

public class GetAllEnvExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Map<String, String> env = System.getenv();

        for (String key : env.keySet()) {
            System.out.println(key + " = " + env.get(key));


PATH = /usr/bin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/sbin (example output)
JAVA_HOME = /path/to/java/home (example output)

Real-World Use Case

Configuration Management

In a real-world scenario, environment variables are often used to configure applications, especially in different environments (development, testing, production). You can use the System.getenv() method to access these configuration settings.


public class ConfigExample {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String dbHost = System.getenv("DB_HOST");
        String dbPort = System.getenv("DB_PORT");
        String dbUser = System.getenv("DB_USER");
        String dbPassword = System.getenv("DB_PASSWORD");

        if (dbHost != null && dbPort != null && dbUser != null && dbPassword != null) {
            System.out.println("Database Configuration:");
            System.out.println("Host: " + dbHost);
            System.out.println("Port: " + dbPort);
            System.out.println("User: " + dbUser);
            System.out.println("Password: " + dbPassword);
        } else {
            System.out.println("Database configuration is not fully set.");


Database Configuration:
Port: 5432
User: admin
Password: secret


The System.getenv() method in Java provides a way to access environment variables from the operating system. By understanding how to use this method, you can retrieve specific environment variables or get all environment variables, which is useful for configuration management in your Java applications. Whether you are configuring your application based on the environment, retrieving necessary configuration settings, or accessing system-level variables, the getenv() method offers a straightforward way to interact with environment variables in Java.