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The cv command is a utility for interacting with a CiviCRM installation. It performs an automatic scan to locate and boot the CiviCRM installation. It provides command-line access to helper functions and configuration data, such as APIv3 and site URLs.


  • PHP v7.3+.
  • A local CiviCRM installation.
  • Systems with special file-layouts may need to configure bootstrap.


cv is distributed in PHAR format, which is a portable executable file (for PHP). It should run on most Unix-like systems where PHP is installed. Here are three quick ways to download it:

There are several more options for downloading cv. See also:


cv provides a number of subcommands. To see a list, run cv without any arguments.

For detailed help about a specific subcommand, use -h as in cv api -h.

There are some general conventions:

  • Many subcommands support common bootstrap options, such as --user, --level, and --test.
  • Many subcommands support multiple output formats using --out. You may set a general preference with an environment variable, e.g. export CV_OUTPUT=json-pretty or export CV_OUTPUT=php.

Example: CLI

me@localhost$ cd /var/www/my/web/site

## Clear caches
me@localhost$ cv flush

## Manage extensions
me@localhost$ cv ext -Li
me@localhost$ cv dl cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv en cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv dis cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv path -x cividiscount
me@localhost$ cv url -x cividiscount

## Manage settings
me@localhost$ cv vget
me@localhost$ cv vget /mail/
me@localhost$ cv vset mailerBatchLimit=100

## Call APIs
me@localhost$ cv api3 contact.get last_name=Smith
me@localhost$ cv api4 Contact.get +w last_name=Smith

## Improvise PHP
me@localhost$ cv ev 'echo Civi::paths()->getPath("[civicrm.root]/.");'
me@localhost$ cv scr /path/to/my-script.php
me@localhost$ cv cli

## Improvise web requests
me@localhost$ cv url civicrm/dashboard --open
me@localhost$ cv url civicrm/dashboard --open -LU admin
me@localhost$ cv http civicrm/dashboard
me@localhost$ cv http civicrm/dashboard -LU admin

## Inspect events and services
me@localhost$ cv event
me@localhost$ cv event /flexmailer/
me@localhost$ cv service
me@localhost$ cv service /flexmailer/

If you intend to run unit-tests, and if you do not use civibuild, then you may need to supply some additional site information (such as the name of the test users). To do this, run:

me@localhost$ cd /var/www/my/web/site
me@localhost$ cv vars:show
me@localhost$ cv vars:fill
me@localhost$ vi ~/.cv.json
me@localhost$ cv vars:show

Example: PHP

Suppose you have a standalone script or a test runner which needs to execute in the context of a CiviCRM site. You don't want to hardcode it to a specific path, create special-purpose config files, or require a specific directory structure. Instead, call cv php:boot and eval(). The simplest way:

eval(`cv php:boot`)

However, it is better to create a small wrapper function to improve error-handling and output parsing:

 * Call the "cv" command.
 * @param string $cmd
 *   The rest of the command to send.
 * @param string $decode
 *   Ex: 'json' or 'phpcode'.
 * @return string
 *   Response output (if the command executed normally).
 * @throws \RuntimeException
 *   If the command terminates abnormally.
function cv($cmd, $decode = 'json') {
  $cmd = 'cv ' . $cmd;
  $descriptorSpec = array(0 => array("pipe", "r"), 1 => array("pipe", "w"), 2 => STDERR);
  $env = (!empty($_ENV) ? $_ENV : getenv()) + array('CV_OUTPUT' => 'json');
  $process = proc_open($cmd, $descriptorSpec, $pipes, __DIR__, $env);
  $result = stream_get_contents($pipes[1]);
  if (proc_close($process) !== 0) {
    throw new RuntimeException("Command failed ($cmd):\n$result");
  switch ($decode) {
    case 'raw':
      return $result;

    case 'phpcode':
      // If the last output is /*PHPCODE*/, then we managed to complete execution.
      if (substr(trim($result), 0, 12) !== "/*BEGINPHP*/" || substr(trim($result), -10) !== "/*ENDPHP*/") {
        throw new \RuntimeException("Command failed ($cmd):\n$result");
      return $result;

    case 'json':
      return json_decode($result, 1);

      throw new RuntimeException("Bad decoder format ($decode)");

eval(cv('php:boot', 'phpcode'));
$config = cv('vars:show');
printf("We should navigate to the dashboard: %s\n\n", cv('url civicrm/dashboard'));

Example: NodeJS



cv must find and bootstrap the local instance of CiviCRM, Drupal, WordPress, or similar. This may work a few ways:

  • Automatic: By default, cv checks the current directory and each parent directory for evidence of well-known environment (such as Drupal or WordPress).

    The automatic search is designed to work with a default site-layout -- as seen in a typical "zip" or "tar" file from,, or similar. Some deployments add more advanced options -- such as configuring "multi-site", adding bespoke "symlinks", or moving the wp-admin folder. For advanced layouts, you may need to set an environment variable.

  • CIVICRM_BOOT (new protocol): Boot the CMS first (and then ask it to boot CiviCRM). This is more representative of a typical HTTP page-view, and it is compatible with commands like core:install. Set this environment variable to specify the CMS type and base-directory. Compare:

    export CIVICRM_BOOT="Drupal://var/www/public"
    export CIVICRM_BOOT="Drupal8://admin@/var/www/public"
    export CIVICRM_BOOT="WordPress:/$HOME/sites/my-wp-site/web/"
    export CIVICRM_BOOT="Auto://."
  • CIVICRM_SETTINGS (old protocol): Boot CiviCRM first (and then ask it to boot the CMS). Set this environment variable to specify the civicrm.settings.php location. Compare:

    export CIVICRM_SETTINGS="/var/www/sites/default/files/civicrm.settings.php"
    export CIVICRM_SETTINGS="Auto"

    (Note: In the legacy protocol, cv loads CiviCRM and then asks CiviCRM to boostrap the CMS. However, it is less representative of a typical HTTP page-view, and it is incompatible with commands like core:install. You might use it for headless testing or as fallback/work-around if any bugs are discovered in the standard protocol.)

NOTE: In absence of a configuration variable, the Automatic mode will behave like CIVICRM_SETTINGS="Auto" (in v0.3.x). This is tentatively planned to change in v0.4.x, where it will behave like CIVICRM_BOOT="Auto://."

Additionally, some deployments handle multiple sites ("multisite"/"multidomain"). You should target a specific site using --hostname or HTTP_HOST.

Here are a few examples of putting these together:

## Use --hostname for a domain
export CIVICRM_BOOT="WordPress:/$HOME/public_html/"
cv --hostname='' ext:list -L
## Use HTTP_HOST for a domain
export CIVICRM_BOOT="WordPress:/$HOME/public_html/"
cv ext:list -L
## Use --hostname for a subfolder
export CIVICRM_BOOT="WordPress:/$HOME/public_html/"
cv --hostname='' ext:list -L


There is limited/experimental support for shell autocompletion based on stecman/symfony-console-completion. To enable it:

# BASH ~4.x, ZSH
source <(cv _completion --generate-hook)

# BASH ~3.x, ZSH
cv _completion --generate-hook | source /dev/stdin

# BASH (any version)
eval $(cv _completion --generate-hook)


For more information, see doc/