QGIS Global Settings File

Starting from Boundless Desktop 1.1, QGIS supports global settings: a feature that is currently only available in QGIS 3.x series.

Almost all settings for QGIS application are stored using the QSettings framework that is provided by the Qt library upon which QGIS is built.

For every setting value, an optional default value can be specified inline in the application code, the global settings implementation allows the inline default values to be overridden by an external and totally optional global settings file (in .ini format).

Therefore, by providing a global settings file, the order for a setting value lookup becomes:

  • user settings file
  • global settings file
  • inline default

This global setting file can be used to provide pre-configuration and/or custom default values for all settings used inside QGIS.

QGIS Global settings and defaults can be set by editing the qgis_global_setting.ini file. Moreover, it is possible to overwrite the path for the qgis_global_setting.ini, by using one of the following:

  • Specifying the file’s path using the –globalsettings option when running QGIS. For instance:

    $ qgis --globalsettings /home/user/qgis_global_setting.ini
  • Setting the QGIS_GLOBAL_SETTINGS_FILE environment variable with the file location.


Setting the qgis_global_setting.ini file path to a network shared folder, allows the system administrator to change global settings and defaults in several machines by only editing one file.

If none of the two above methods is used, QGIS will use the file’s default location. On Windows, the default location folder is:

C:\Program Files\Boundless\Desktop\1.1\osgeo4w\apps\qgis\qgis_global_setting.ini

While on Mac OS, the default location is:

/Library/Boundless/Desktop/1.1/Cellar/qgis2-bdesk/2.18.10/QGIS for Boundless Desktop 1.1.app/Contents/MacOS/../Resources/qgis_global_setting.ini

Exporting QGIS settings to INI format

Since Windows and macOS versions of QGIS don’t store settings in INI format, having to create a qgis_global_setting.ini file from scratch can be a laborious task.

For that purpose, a script is available to dump QGIS QgsSettings to a .ini file. The resultant file can then be used to help populate a qgis_global_settings.ini file.

  1. Download qgis-settings-to-ini.py.zip file to your machine and extract it.
  2. From within QGIS, open the Python Console (Plugins ‣ Python Console).
  3. In the Python Console, click the Show Editor button.
  4. In the Editor toolbar, click the Load Script, browse to the qgis-settings-to-ini.py file and click Open.
  5. Finally, click the Run script button.

A message in the Python Console will inform you of the path to the output file, or any runtime errors..