Android Environment class

| Page Views: 156

Android Environment Class Tutorial and Examples.

In the android.os package is an Environment class that gives us acess to environment variables. In this tutorial we will explore several example snippets to understand several capabilities of this class.

What You Learn in This Tutorial.

This tutorial is meant to teach you about the Environment class in android. In the process you will learn the following:

  1. What the Environment class is and it's api definition.
  2. The several public directories available in the android operating system. These are available as public constants.
  3. The several public methods available in the android operating system.
  4. Several "howTo" snippets for the Environment class. For example how to open any directory by supplying it's path or the just the public directories.
Environment API Definition

Environment is class that gives us access to environment variables in the android operating system. The Environment class is a public class directly extending the java.lang.Object class:

public class Environment extends Object {}

Here's it's inheritance hierarchy:

   ↳    android.os.Environment
Public Directories

Here are public system defined dirextories:

No. Directory Description
1. DIRECTORY_ALARMS Standard directory in which to place any audio files that should be in the list of alarms that the user can select (not as regular music).
2. DIRECTORY_DCIM The traditional location for pictures and videos when mounting the device as a camera.
3. DIRECTORY_DOCUMENTS Standard directory in which to place documents that have been created by the user.
4. DIRECTORY_DOWNLOADS Standard directory in which to place files that have been downloaded by the user.
5. DIRECTORY_MOVIES Standard directory in which to place movies that are available to the user.
6. DIRECTORY_MUSIC Standard directory in which to place any audio files that should be in the regular list of music for the user.
7. DIRECTORY_NOTIFICATIONS Standard directory in which to place any audio files that should be in the list of notifications that the user can select (not as regular music).
8. DIRECTORY_PICTURES Standard directory in which to place pictures that are available to the user.
9. DIRECTORY_PODCASTS Standard directory in which to place any audio files that should be in the list of podcasts that the user can select (not as regular music).
10. DIRECTORY_RINGTONES Standard directory in which to place any audio files that should be in the list of ringtones that the user can select (not as regular music).
Public Environment Methods

Here are some public methods in the Environment class that you will want to use when working with this class:

No. Return Type Method Description
1. File getDataDirectory() Return the user data directory.
2. File getDownloadCacheDirectory() Return the download/cache content directory.
3. File getExternalStorageDirectory() Return the primary shared/external storage directory.
4. File getExternalStoragePublicDirectory(String type) Get a top-level shared/external storage directory for placing files of a particular type.
5. String getExternalStorageState() Returns the current state of the primary shared/external storage media.
6. String getExternalStorageState(File path) Returns the current state of the shared/external storage media at the given path.
7. File getRootDirectory() Return root of the "system" partition holding the core Android OS.
8. String getStorageState(File path) This method was deprecated in API level 21. use getExternalStorageState(File)
9. boolean isExternalStorageEmulated() Returns whether the primary shared/external storage media is emulated.
10. boolean isExternalStorageEmulated(File path) Returns whether the shared/external storage media at the given path is emulated.
11. boolean isExternalStorageRemovable() Returns whether the primary shared/external storage media is physically removable.
12. boolean isExternalStorageRemovable(File path) Returns whether the shared/external storage media at the given path is physically removable.

Quick Environment Class Solutions and Snippets.

Let's look at some quick example snippets to incorporate into your project:

1. How to Open a Directory

Let's say a path is being passed to us and we have to get and return a File object.

    private static File openFolder(final String path) {
        File file = null;

        if (isExternalStorageAvailable()) {
            final File storageFolder = Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory();

            file = new File(storageFolder, path);
            if (!file.exists()) {
                if (!file.mkdirs()) {
                    file = null;

        return file;

In the above solution we have created a method called openFolder(). The method is receiving a path as a parameter. Then we've initialized the a File object to null. Then checked if the ExternalStoarge is available via the isExternalStorageAvailable method. Then obtained external storage directory via the getExternalStorageDirectory method of the Environment class. Then we've instantiated the File class, passing in the storageFolder and path as parameters.

Then we've checked if the File exists via the exists() method of the File class. Then we've checked if the File is directory via the mkdirs() method. If not so we return null, otherwise we return the File.

2. How to determine if ExternalStorage is Available

We will return true if the external storage is available. If not we return false.

    public static boolean isExternalStorageAvailable() {
        return Environment.MEDIA_MOUNTED.equals(Environment.getExternalStorageState());

We've created a static method to return a boolean value, true or false based on whether external storage is available or not.

3. How to Open the Pictures Directory

We see how to open the system defined pictures directory. We will return the path of the directory holding application files on external storage.

    public static File openPublicPicturesDirectory() {
        if (isExternalStorageAvailable()) {
            return (AndroidUtils.isAtLeastFroyo()) ? Environment.getExternalStoragePublicDirectory(
                    Environment.DIRECTORY_PICTURES) : openFolder("Pictures");
        return null;

In the above we've shown you how you can open the public pictures directory. We start by checking if the external storage is available via the isExternalStorageAvailable() method. If so we then check if the device OS is atleast Froyo. Am assuming that you have maybe some AndroidUtils class. We've used what we call a ternary operator. If it's true then Environment.getExternalStoragePublicDirectory gets called, otherwise openFolder(). Note we had defined the openFolder earlier.

4. How to Open the Music Directory

This method opens the the system defined music directory. We return the path of the directory holding application files on external storage. Let's say we have a separate utility class from which we can determine if the device is atleast Froyo.

    public static File openMusicDirectory(final Context context) {
        if (isExternalStorageAvailable()) {
            return (AndroidUtils.isAtLeastFroyo()) ? context.getExternalFilesDir(Environment.DIRECTORY_MUSIC)
                                                   : openFolder("music");

        return null;

Note that we had defined the openFolder earlier.

5. How to Open File Explorer via Intent
                Intent intent = new Intent();
                startActivityForResult(Intent.createChooser(intent, getString(R.string

The unique thing is the */* we've passed in the setType() method.

6. How to Create a Directory in Downloads Folder

Here's the problem. You need to create a directory in the Downloads Directory in the external storage, otherwise throw an error.

            final File target = new File(
                    Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory(), Environment.DIRECTORY_DOWNLOADS);
            if (!target.isDirectory() && target.mkdirs()) {
                throw new IOException("unable to create external downloads directory");
            return target;

First we have instantiate a File object passing in two parameters. The first is the ExternalStorageDirectory and the second is the downloads directory. Both parameters are obtained from the Environment class. It is important to note that even folders are represented by the File class. Hence for us to determine if a File object is a folder or not we have to call the isDirectory() method and the mkdirs() method. Both are defined in the File class.

7. How to Check if SDCard is enabled or not.

Suppose you want to check if the SCard is enable or not and return a boolean value: true or false:

    public static boolean isSDCardEnabled() {
        return Environment.MEDIA_MOUNTED.equals(Environment.getExternalStorageState());

We may re-use this method in some snippets.

8. How to obtain the SDCard Path

We want to obtain it's path and return it as a string.

    public static String getSDCardPath() {
        if (!isSDCardEnable()) return null;
        String cmd = "cat /proc/mounts";
        Runtime run = Runtime.getRuntime();
        BufferedReader bufferedReader = null;
        try {
            Process p = run.exec(cmd);
            bufferedReader = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(new BufferedInputStream(p.getInputStream())));
            String lineStr;
            while ((lineStr = bufferedReader.readLine()) != null) {
                if (lineStr.contains("sdcard") && lineStr.contains(".android_secure")) {
                    String[] strArray = lineStr.split(" ");
                    if (strArray.length >= 5) {
                        return strArray[1].replace("/.android_secure", "") + File.separator;
                if (p.waitFor() != 0 && p.exitValue() == 1) {
        } catch (Exception e) {
        } finally {
        return Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getPath() + File.separator;
9. How to Obtain Data Path
    public static String getDataPath() {
        if (!isSDCardEnabled()) return null;
        return Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getPath() + File.separator + "data" + File.separator;
10. How to get Available Free Space

We wnat to get the available free space in the SD Card.

    public static String getFreeSpace() {
        if (!isSDCardEnabled()) return null;
        StatFs stat = new StatFs(getSDCardPath());
        long blockSize, availableBlocks;
        availableBlocks = stat.getAvailableBlocksLong();
        blockSize = stat.getBlockSizeLong();
        return ConvertUtils.byte2FitMemorySize(availableBlocks * blockSize);

We've started by checking if the SD Card is enabled.

11. How to get SD Card Information

Let's start by creating a class:

public static class SDCardInfo {
        boolean isExist;
        long    totalBlocks;
        long    freeBlocks;
        long    availableBlocks;
        long    blockByteSize;
        long    totalBytes;
        long    freeBytes;
        long    availableBytes;

        public String toString() {
            return "isExist=" + isExist +
                    "\ntotalBlocks=" + totalBlocks +
                    "\nfreeBlocks=" + freeBlocks +
                    "\navailableBlocks=" + availableBlocks +
                    "\nblockByteSize=" + blockByteSize +
                    "\ntotalBytes=" + totalBytes +
                    "\nfreeBytes=" + freeBytes +
                    "\navailableBytes=" + availableBytes;


    public static String getSDCardInfo() {
        if (!isSDCardEnable()) return null;
        SDCardInfo sd = new SDCardInfo();
        sd.isExist = true;
        StatFs sf = new StatFs(Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getPath());
        sd.totalBlocks = sf.getBlockCountLong();
        sd.blockByteSize = sf.getBlockSizeLong();
        sd.availableBlocks = sf.getAvailableBlocksLong();
        sd.availableBytes = sf.getAvailableBytes();
        sd.freeBlocks = sf.getFreeBlocksLong();
        sd.freeBytes = sf.getFreeBytes();
        sd.totalBytes = sf.getTotalBytes();
        return sd.toString();

How do You Feel after reading this?

According to scientists, we humans have 8 primary innate emotions: joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation. Feel free to tell us how you feel about this article using these emotes or via the comment section.

About Me.

After completing his Software Engineering bachelors program, Oclemy(Clement Ochieng) these days is a man of two lives. At day he works for a startup in Nairobi, Kenya. At night he works tirelessly on building ProgrammingWizards TV, a tv channel for student coders and this website to help share the source code. In between he practices Meditation and Self actualization to help him keep balance. He also likes going for long solo walks to connect more with nature.


What do You Think

Previous Post Next Post