AWKPATH Environment Variable ¶
implementations, you must supply a precise pathname for each program
file, unless the file is in the current directory.
gawk, if the file name supplied to the -f
or -i options
does not contain a directory separator ‘/’, then
gawk searches a list of
directories (called the search path) one by one, looking for a
file with the specified name.
The search path is a string consisting of directory names
separated by colons.13
gawk gets its search path from the
AWKPATH environment variable. If that variable does not exist,
or if it has an empty value,
gawk uses a default path (described shortly).
The search path feature is particularly helpful for building libraries
awk functions. The library files can be placed in a
standard directory in the default path and then specified on
the command line with a short file name. Otherwise, you would have to
type the full file name for each file.
By using the -i or -f options, your command-line
awk programs can use facilities in
awk library files
(see A Library of
Path searching is not done if
gawk is in compatibility mode.
This is true for both --traditional and --posix.
See Command-Line Options.
If the source code file is not found after the initial search, the path is searched again after adding the suffix ‘.awk’ to the file name.
gawk’s path search mechanism is similar
to the shell’s.
(See The Bourne-Again SHell manual.)
It treats a null entry in the path as indicating the current
(A null entry is indicated by starting or ending the path with a
colon or by placing two colons next to each other [‘::’].)
NOTE: To include the current directory in the path, either place . as an entry in the path or write a null entry in the path.
Different past versions of
gawkwould also look explicitly in the current directory, either before or after the path search. As of version 4.1.2, this no longer happens; if you wish to look in the current directory, you must include . either as a separate entry or as a null entry in the search path.
The default value for
‘.:/usr/local/share/awk’.14 Since . is included at the beginning,
searches first in the current directory and then in /usr/local/share/awk.
In practice, this means that you will rarely need to change the
See Shell Startup Files, for information on functions that help to
gawk places the value of the search path that it used into
ENVIRON["AWKPATH"]. This provides access to the actual search
path value from within an
Although you can change
ENVIRON["AWKPATH"] within your
program, this has no effect on the running program’s behavior. This makes
AWKPATH environment variable is used to find the program
source files. Once your program is running, all the files have been
gawk no longer needs to use
Semicolons on MS-Windows.
Your version of
may use a different directory; it
will depend upon how
gawk was built and installed. The actual
directory is the value of
$(pkgdatadir) generated when
gawk was configured.
(For more detail, see the INSTALL file in the source distribution,
and see Compiling
gawk for Unix-Like Systems.
You probably don’t need to worry about this,