GDAL’s format drivers have many configuration options. These options come in two flavors:

  • Configuration options are used to alter the default behavior of GDAL and OGR and are generally treated as global environment variables by GDAL. These are set through a rasterio.Env() context block in Python.

  • Creation options are passed into the driver at dataset creation time as keyword arguments to rasterio.open(mode='w').

Configuration Options

GDAL options are typically set as environment variables. While environment variables will influence the behavior of rasterio, we highly recommended avoiding them in favor of defining behavior programatically.

The preferred way to set options for rasterio is via rasterio.Env(). Options set on entering the context are deleted on exit.

import rasterio

with rasterio.Env(GDAL_TIFF_INTERNAL_MASK=True):
    # GeoTIFFs written here will have internal masks, not the
    # .msk sidecars.

# Option is gone and the default (False) returns.

Use native Python forms (True and False) for boolean options. Rasterio will convert them GDAL’s internal forms.

See the configuration options page for a complete list of available options.

Creation options

Each format has it’s own set of driver-specific creation options that can be used to fine tune the output rasters. For details on a particular driver, see the formats list.

For the purposes of this document, we will focus on the GeoTIFF creation options. Some of the common GeoTIFF creation options include:

  • TILED, BLOCKXSIZE, and BLOCKYSIZE to define the internal tiling

  • COMPRESS to define the compression method

  • PHOTOMETRIC to define the band’s color interpretation

To specify these creation options in python code, you pass them as keyword arguments to the rasterio.open() command in write mode:

with rasterio.open("output.tif", 'w', **src.meta, compress="JPEG",
                   tiled=True, blockxsize=256, blockysize=256,
                   photometric="YCBCR") as dest:

Or at the command line, rio commands will accept multiple --co options:

rio copy source.tif dest.tif --co tiled=true

These keyword arguments may be lowercase or uppercase, as you prefer.


Some options may at a glance appear to be boolean, but are not. The GeoTIFF format’s BIGTIFF option is one of these. The value must be YES, NO, IF_NEEDED, or IF_SAFER.


Some configuration options also have an effect on driver behavior at creation time.