Frequently Asked Questions

Why isn’t my package being snapshotted into the lockfile?

By default, renv uses the intersection of:

  1. Packages installed into your project library, and

  2. Packages which appear to be used in your project, as discovered by renv::dependencies(),

in determining which packages should enter the lockfile. The intention is that only the packages you truly require for your project should enter the lockfile; development dependencies (e.g. devtools) normally should not.

If you find a package is not entering the lockfile, you can check the output of:


and see whether usages of your package are reported in the output.

Note that renv’s dependency discovery machinery relies on static analysis of your R code, and does not understand all of the different ways in which a package might be used in a project. For example, renv will detect the following usages:


But it will be unable to detect these kinds of usages:

for (package in c("dplyr", "ggplot2")) {
  library(package, character.only = TRUE)

If you use a custom package loader in your project that renv could feasibly support, please feel free to file a feature request.

Capturing all dependencies

If you’d instead prefer to capture all packages installed into your project library (and eschew dependency discovery altogether), you can do so with:


Packages can also be explicitly ignored through a project setting, e.g. with:


You might also want to double-check the set of ignored packages (renv::settings$ignored.packages()) and confirm that you aren’t unintentionally ignoring a package you actually require.

See the documentation in ?snapshot for more details.

Capturing explicit dependencies

If you’d like to explicitly declare which packages your project depends on, you can do so by telling renv to form “explicit” snapshots:


In this mode, renv will only include packages which are explicitly listed in the project’s DESCRIPTION file as dependencies.

How should I handle development dependencies?

This is related to the above question: by design, renv.lock normally only captures build-time or deploy-time dependencies; it may not capture the packages that you use in iterative workflows (e.g. devtools). However, you may want some way of still ensuring these development dependencies get installed when trying to restore a project library.

For cases like these, we recommend tracking these packages in a project DESCRIPTION file; typically, within the Suggests: field. Then, you can execute:


to request that renv install the packages as described in the DESCRIPTION file. In addition, the Remotes: fields will be parsed and used, to ensure packages are installed from their declared remote source as appropriate.

I’m returning to an older renv project. What do I do?

Suppose you were using renv to manage an older project’s dependencies. You have an older lockfile, capturing the dependencies in use when you were last working with that project. You now need to resume work on this project – what do you do?

The answer depends on how exactly you want to use the project. Do you want to treat it as a “time capsule”, with dependencies frozen in time? Or are the dependencies in this project fluid, and you are primarily using renv just for isolation of project dependencies?

For time capsules, the solution is to use renv::restore() to re-install the exact packages as declared in the project lockfile renv.lock. You may also need to find and install the older version of R used previously with that project, unless your intention is to upgrade R.

For projects with fluid dependencies, one solution is to use renv::init() to re-initialize the project with a brand new project library. When renv::init() is invoked, you may see a question such as:

> renv::init()
This project already has a lockfile. What would you like to do?

1: Restore the project from the lockfile.
2: Discard the lockfile and re-initialize the project.
3: Activate the project without snapshotting or installing any packages.
4: Abort project initialization.

You can select option (2) to instruct renv to re-initialize the project, effectively discarding the old lockfile and initializing the project with a new project library. You may also want to call renv::upgrade() to ensure all packages in the new project library are updated to the latest-available versions, as well.

If you prefer a more managed approach, you might also consider the following approach:

  1. Use renv::restore() to restore the project state as defined in the lockfile,

  2. Install and update packages deliberately, e.g. via renv::install(), install.packages(), or other relevant tools,

  3. Call renv::snapshot() after you’ve finished updating the requisite packages, to generate a new lockfile.

Why aren’t packages installed in the system library visible in my renv projects?

By default, renv generates a “sandboxed” version of the system library, containing only the base set of packages normally bundled and distributed with R. If you’d prefer that packages installed into the system library remain visible to renv projects, you can set:


in an appropriate .Renviron file. See the entry for renv.config.sandbox.enabled in ?renv::config for more details.