Conda environments

Conda is an open source package and environment management system that simplifies the installation and the configuration of complex software packages in a platform agnostic manner.

Nextflow has built-in support for Conda that allows the configuration of workflow dependencies using Conda recipes and environment files.

This allows Nextflow applications to use popular tool collections such as Bioconda whilst taking advantage of the configuration flexibility provided by Nextflow.


This feature requires the Conda or Miniconda package manager to be installed on your system.

How it works

Nextflow automatically creates and activates the Conda environment(s) given the dependencies specified by each process.

Dependencies are specified by using the conda directive, providing either the names of the required Conda packages, the path of a Conda environment yaml file or the path of an existing Conda environment directory.


Conda environments are stored on the file system. By default Nextflow instructs Conda to save the required environments in the pipeline work directory. Therefore the same environment can be created/saved multiple times across multiple executions when using a different work directory.

You can specify the directory where the Conda environments are stored using the conda.cacheDir configuration property (see the configuration page for details). When using a computing cluster, make sure to use a shared file system path accessible from all compute nodes.


The Conda environment feature is not supported by executors that use remote object storage as a work directory e.g. AWS Batch.

Enabling Conda environment

New in version 22.08.0-edge.

The use of Conda recipes specified using the conda directive needs to be enabled explicitly by setting the option shown below in the pipeline configuration file (i.e. nextflow.config):

conda.enabled = true

Alternatively, it can be specified by setting the variable NXF_CONDA_ENABLED=true in your environment or by using the -with-conda command line option.

Use Conda package names

Conda package names can specified using the conda directive. Multiple package names can be specified by separating them with a blank space. For example:

process foo {
  conda 'bwa samtools multiqc'

  your_command --here

Using the above definition, a Conda environment that includes BWA, Samtools and MultiQC tools is created and activated when the process is executed.

The usual Conda package syntax and naming conventions can be used. The version of a package can be specified after the package name as shown here bwa=0.7.15.

The name of the channel where a package is located can be specified prefixing the package with the channel name as shown here bioconda::bwa=0.7.15.

Use Conda environment files

Conda environments can also be defined using one or more Conda environment files. This is a file that lists the required packages and channels structured using the YAML format. For example:

name: my-env
  - conda-forge
  - bioconda
  - defaults
  - star=2.5.4a
  - bwa=0.7.15

Read the Conda documentation for more details about how to create environment files.

The path of an environment file can be specified using the conda directive:

process foo {
  conda '/some/path/my-env.yaml'

  your_command --here


The environment file name must have a .yml or .yaml extension or else it won’t be properly recognised.

Alternatively, it is possible to provide the dependencies using a plain text file, just listing each package name as a separate line. For example:



Like before, the extension matters. Make sure the dependencies file has a .txt extension.

Use existing Conda environments

If you already have a local Conda environment, you can use it in your workflow specifying the installation directory of such environment by using the conda directive:

process foo {
  conda '/path/to/an/existing/env/directory'

  your_command --here

Use Mamba to resolve packages


Experimental: may change in a future release.

It is also possible to use mamba to speed up the creation of conda environments. For more information on how to enable this feature please refer to Conda.

Best practices

When a conda directive is used in any process definition within the workflow script, Conda tool is required for the workflow execution.

Specifying the Conda environments in a separate configuration profile is therefore recommended to allow the execution via a command line option and to enhance the workflow portability. For example:

profiles {
  conda {
    process.conda = 'samtools'

  docker {
    process.container = 'biocontainers/samtools'
    docker.enabled = true

The above configuration snippet allows the execution either with Conda or Docker specifying -profile conda or -profile docker when running the workflow script.

Advanced settings

Conda advanced configuration settings are described in the Conda section on the Nextflow configuration page.