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Is there any way to run Blender with different configurations?

I am using the installed version of Blender on a Windows system. This automatically creates all configurations (startup.blend, userpref.blend, etc.) in the path C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\X.X\config.

I would like to use different configurations when starting Blender by simply creating additional startup files and specifying a different path to the configuration files.

Depending on the situation, I want different add-ons to be activated and different settings to be used. On every startup the same directory should always be used for the add-ons (even if they are not used or activated in a particular configuration). However, when double-clicking on a blend file, the default configuration (!) should always be used.

I'm pretty sure there is a simple solution here without using the portable version, but I'm not sure what variables need to be changed here on Windows or how best to do it.

PS: I have found other solutions for Mac/Linux/Portable, but unfortunately not the installed version for Windows:

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe use Templates? Otherwise you can use environment variable to define startup parameters. Use different shortcuts (scripts, or whatever method you usually use to lauch Blender) with different parameters to launch the different configurations blender.stackexchange.com/a/63666/19307 $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2023 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @DuarteFarrajotaRamos Oh, wonderful! I didn't even know about the templates. I think that's exactly what I was looking for. I'll have to take a closer look. Thank you very much! $\endgroup$
    – quellenform
    Jan 27, 2023 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome. Never used them myself, gotta look into those as well $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2023 at 18:07

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In this case, "Templates" seem to be the best solution for Windows, as Duarte Farrajota Ramos has already noted in the comments.

...However, these do not work exactly as described in the official documentation.

Basically, each custom template can have its own settings for userpref.blend, startup.blend and splash.png (as well as run its own scripts on startup).


The procedure is as follows:

First you have to create the folder "bl_app_templates_user" in the path C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\X.X\scripts\startup\.
(USERNAME must be replaced with your username and X.X with your Blender version)

In this path a folder for your personal template will be created. In this example I choose the name "Geometry Nodes".

However, this must be done with underscores, so the final path must be as follows: C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\X.X\scripts\startup\bl_app_templates_user\Geometry_Nodes\.

You can then save your own configuration files in this path. According to the manuals, these are

  • startup.blend (which contains the startup scene)
  • userpref.blend (this file contains the preferences)
  • splash.png (1500x500 px !)
  • __init__.py

Important: The most important point is that the file userpref.blend is present (you can copy this file from another existing configuration and use it as a basis)!

If this file does not exist, the settings are saved in the main configuration file instead!

So the userpref.blend in the path scripts\startup\bl_app_templates_user\Geometry_Nodes\ serves as the basis for your own settings within this template.

To complete the confusion, please note the following:

  • The files in scripts\startup\bl_app_templates_user\Geometry_Nodes\ serve as a starting point and are also used when resetting the configuration.
  • However, the final configuration is saved in config\Geometry_Nodes\ (the files are automatically copied there on first startup), and any further changes to the configuration are also made there!

In this way, there is always an (unchanged) starting point of the configuration to which you can return at any time, and a current configuration that contains the settings made afterwards.


Briefly summarized to repeat:

  1. Find Blender configuration path, e.g. C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Blender Foundation\Blender\X.X\.
  2. Create there a folder named scripts\startup\bl_app_templates_user\Geometry_Nodes\.
  3. In this folder save the custom files (userpref.blend, startup.blend, etc.)

And after that, all personal settings for the template based on these files will be automatically saved in config\Geometry_Nodes\.

The templates can then be easily switched via File > New, or selected on startup at the splash screen.

Choose custom template at startup Choose custom template at startup

Choose custom template from the file menu Choose custom template from the file menu

And the special thing about this solution is that all settings, including your enabled/disabled add-ons, are saved individually in this way, so you can always set up the optimum environment for you, depending on the application.

You can also start Blender directly via a starter with your individual configuration by using the --app-template parameter:

"C:\PATH_TO_BLENDER\blender-launcher.exe" --app-template Geometry_Nodes

PS: This solution works with the installed version of Blender as well as with the portable version.

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