3) Set a Working Directory

This Blog entry is from the Getting Started in R section in Learn R.

A working directory is where R will look for files during a session.  The files may be the R session, or in subsequent Blog entries it will be data to be imported and data saved as the result of processing. 

In Blog entry Issue commands to the R Console, it was observed that there was a failure when saving the R history, owing to the working directory not being set (rather set incorrectly).  It follows that the working directory need be set.

Start by executing Blog Entry Navigate to and launch the R command line to load the R console.


To identify the current working directory use the getwd() function, type the script line:



Execute the command by pressing the Enter key:


The current working directory, which is the directory containing the executable, is returned.  Saving files to the same directory as the R software is not desirable, quite beyond it causing errors, and as such, this should be changed to an appropriate directory.

Create a directory to be used throughput these Blog entries.  In this case the files will be saved to the d:\ in a directory called R.


To set this as the working directory in R use the setwd() function with the directory in quotation marks, type:


  Press the Enter key to process the line of script:


The absence of any error message confirms that the working directory has been changed, although this can be affirmed by executing the getwd() function:


The working directory is now set to d:\r.

If R is exited, and y is selected to save, it can be observed that there were no errors:


Furthermore, it can be seen that the .RHistory file has been saved to the working directory: