p4 client

Create or edit a client workspace specification and its view.

The command p4 workspace is an alias for p4 client.


p4 [g-opts] client [-f] [-t template] [-T type] [clientname]
p4 [g-opts] client -o [-t template] [-T type] [clientname]
p4 [g-opts] client -d [-f [-Fs]]clientname
p4 [g-opts] client -s [-S stream | -t clientname] clientname
p4 [g-opts] client -S stream [[-c change] -o] [clientname]
p4 [g-opts] client -i [-f]
p4 [g-opts] client -d -f --serverid=serverid [-Fs]


A Helix server client workspace is a set of files on a user’s machine that mirror a subset of the files in the depot. More precisely, it is a named mapping of depot files to workspace files. Use the p4 client command to create or edit a client workspace specification. Invoking this command displays a form in which the user enters information so that the Helix server can maintain the workspace.

The p4 client command puts the client spec into a temporary file and invokes the editor configured by the environment variable P4EDITOR. For new workspaces, the client name defaults to the P4CLIENT environment variable, if set, or to the current host name. Saving the file creates or modifies the client spec.

The client view, which is specified in the p4 client form’s View: field, specifies the mapping between files in the workspace and depot.

The mapping between a client workspace file and a depot file:

  • can specify the same or different relative locations
  • can specify the same or different names
  • is typically a many-to-many mapping, such as path/to/....html path/from/....htm, where ... is a wildcard and the fourth "." is the literal . before the file extension. See the Wildcards in File specifications.

When p4 client completes, the new or altered workspace specification is stored in the Helix server database. The files in the workspace are not touched. The new view does not take effect until the next p4 sync.

To submit changes to a stream, you must associate the stream with a workspace by using the command p4 client -S stream clientname. To change the stream associated with a workspace, use the command p4 client -s -S stream clientname.

  • The client storage type cannot be changed after client is created. For example, a readonly client cannot be changed into a writeable client.
  • The terms "client, "workspace", and "workspace client" mean the same thing.

About mapping in client workspace views

To exclude matching files, precede the mapping with the - minus sign.

If more than one mapping line refers to the same files, the later mapping line overrides the earlier one.

map multiple server directories to the same client workspace directory

To map multiple server directories to the same client workspace directory, use the + sign to overlay the later mapping on an earlier one.

//depot/project1/... //bruno-client/project

+//depot/project2/... //bruno-client/project

If files match both the earlier and later mappings, the file matching the later mapping is used. For more details, see Map different depot locations to the same workspace location in Helix Core Server User Guide.

map a server directory to multiple client workspace directories

To map the same server directory to more than one client workspace directory, use the & sign.

//depot/... //bruno-client/...
&//depot/and/tools/... //bruno-client/and/utility1/...
&//depot/and/tools/... //bruno-client/and/utility2/...

Files mapped in this way are read-only. For more details, see Map a single depot path to multiple locations in a workspace in Helix Core Server User Guide.

Form Fields

Field Name Type Description



The client workspace name, as specified in the P4CLIENT environment variable or its equivalents.

When called without a clientname argument, p4 client operates on the workspace specified by the P4CLIENT environment variable or one of its equivalents. If called with a clientname argument on a locked workspace, the workspace specification is read-only.

Be aware of the Limitations on characters in filenames and entities.


Writable, optional

The name of the user who owns the workspace. The default is the user who created the workspace.

The specified owner does not have to be a Helix server user. You might want to use an arbitrary name if the user does not yet exist, or if you have deleted the user and need a placeholder until you can assign the spec to a new user.



The date the workspace specification was last modified.



The date and time that the workspace was last used in any way.

The access time is only valid for the server where the client resides, which is where the client was created or where the client was moved to. This is an issue only in a commit-edge architecture.

Reloading a workspace with p4 reload does not affect the access time.


Writable, optional

The name of the workstation on which this workspace resides. If included, operations on this client workspace can be run only from this host. If not set, access is allowed from any host.

The hostname must be provided exactly as it appears in the output of p4 info when run from that host.


This field is meant to prevent accidental misuse of client workspaces on the wrong machine. Providing a host name does not guarantee security, because the actual value of the host name can be overridden with the -H option to any p4 command, or with the P4HOST environment variable. For a similar mechanism that does provide security, use the IP address restriction feature of p4 protect.


Writable, optional

A textual description of the workspace. The default text is Created by owner.


Writable, mandatory

The directory (on the local host) relative to which all the files in the View: are specified. The default is the current working directory. The path must be specified in local file system syntax. (See "Syntax forms" under File specifications)

If you change this setting, you must physically relocate any files that currently reside there. On Windows client machines, you can specify the root as null to enable you to map files to multiple drives.


Writable, optional

Up to two optional alternate client workspace roots.

Helix server applications use the first of the main and alternate roots that match the application’s current working directory. Use the p4 info command to display the root being used.

This enables users to use the same Helix server client workspace specification on multiple platforms, even those with different directory naming conventions.

If you are using multiple or alternate workspace roots (the AltRoots: field), you can always tell which root is in effect by looking at the Client root: reported by p4 info.

If you are using a Windows directory in any of your workspace roots, you must specify the Windows directory as your main workspace root and specify your other workspace roots in the AltRoots: field.

For example, an engineer building products on multiple platforms might specify a main client root of C:\Projects\Build for Windows builds, and an alternate root of /staff/userid/projects/build for any work on UNIX builds.


Writable, mandatory

A set of switches that control particular workspace options. See Options field.


Writable, mandatory

Options to govern the default behavior of p4 submit.

  • submitunchanged

    All open files (with or without changes) are submitted to the depot. This is the default behavior of Helix server.

  • submitunchanged+reopen

    All open files (with or without changes) are submitted to the depot, and all files are automatically reopened in the default changelist.

  • revertunchanged

    Only those files with content, type, or resolved changes are submitted to the depot. Unchanged files are reverted.

  • revertunchanged+reopen

    Only those files with content, type, or resolved changes are submitted to the depot and reopened in the default changelist. Unchanged files are reverted and not reopened in the default changelist.

  • leaveunchanged

    Only those files with content, type, or resolved changes are submitted to the depot. Any unchanged files are moved to the default changelist.

  • leaveunchanged+reopen

    Only those files with content, type, or resolved changes are submitted to the depot. Unchanged files are moved to the default changelist, and changed files are reopened in the default changelist. This option is similar to submitunchanged+reopen, except that no unchanged files are submitted to the depot.


Writable, mandatory

Configure carriage-return/linefeed (CR/LF) conversion. See Processing line endings.


Writable, optional

Associates the workspace with the specified stream. Helix server generates the view for stream-associated workspaces. You cannot modify that view manually.


Writable, optional

A changelist number that sets a back-in-time view of a stream.

When StreamAtChange is set, running p4 sync (when called with no arguments) updates the workspace to files at this changelist revision, instead of the head revision. You cannot submit changes (p4 submit returns an error) when StreamAtChange is set, because the workspace view no longer reflects the current stream inheritance.

This field is ignored unless the Stream field is also set to a valid stream.


Writable, optional

If set, restricts usage of the workspace to the named server. If unset, use is allowed on master server and on any replicas of the master other than Edge servers.


To avoid configuration problems, the value of serverID should always match the value of P4NAME if both are set. We recommend setting serverID, but support P4NAME for backward compatibility.


Writable, multi-line

Specifies the mappings between files in the depot and files in the workspace. See p4 help views for more information. A new view takes effect on the next p4 sync operation.


Writable, optional, multi-line

Restricts access to depot paths to a particular point in time. Files specified for the ChangeView field are read-only: they may be opened but not submitted. For example:

//depot/path/[email protected]

Revisions of the files in the specified path will not be visible if they were submitted after the specified changelist number. Files matching a ChangeView path may not be submitted.


The names of automatic labels can be used as specifiers in import mappings on stream specs and in the ChangeView on client specs.


Writable, optional

Specifies the type of client:


The default.


for short lived clients used in build automation scripts. Such clients cannot edit or submit files.


similar to readonly but with the additional ability to edit and submit files using that client.


Using writeable clients in build automation scripts can fragment the db.have table, which records the files that a client has synced. If you are experiencing performance issues when syncing, consider using use a read-only or partitioned client. A client of type readonly or partitioned is assigned its own db.have table. The location of this table must first be specified with the client.readonly.dir configurable by an administrator. See also "Using read-only and partitioned clients in automated builds" in Helix Core Server Administrator Guide


If there is a line under a field, indent that line. For example,

    Created by maria


-d clientname

Delete the specified client workspace whether or not the workspace is owned by the user. The workspace must be unlocked and must have no opened files or pending changes. (The -f option permits Helix server administrators to delete locked workspaces owned by other users.) Clients can be deleted even if they have shelved files (see -Fs option).

If you try to forcibly delete a client bound to another server, you need to specify the --serverid option and specify the server id of the other server. This ensures that you do not accidentally delete the client believing it to be connected to your own server.


Allows the last modification date, which is normally read-only, to be set. Administrators can use the -f option to delete or modify locked workspaces owned by other users.

Use of this option requires admin access granted by p4 protect.


Allows the deletion of a client even when that client contains shelved changes. The client is deleted and the shelved changes are left intact. (You must use the -f option with the -Fs option.)


Read the client workspace specification from standard input.


Write the client workspace specification to standard output.

-o -c change

When used with -S stream, displays the workspace specification that would have been created for a stream at the moment the change was submitted.


Switch workspace view. To switch the workspace view to a stream, specify -S stream. To switch the view defined for another workspace, specify -tclientname.

Switching views is not allowed in a client that has opened files. The -f option can be used with -s to force switching with opened files. View switching has no effect on files in a client workspace until p4 sync is run.


If you try to forcibly delete a client bound to another server, you need to specify the --serverid option and specify the server id of the other server. This ensures that you do not accidentally delete the client believing it to be connected to your own server.

This variant of the p4 client command must be issued directly to the commit server.

-S stream

Associates the workspace with the specified stream, which is used to generate its workspace view.

-t clientname

Copy client workspace clientname's view and options into the View: and Options: field of this workspace. If you specify a default client template using the template.client configurable, you do not have to specify this option.

-T type

By default, clients are writeable. You can also set type to:

  • readonly, which prevents files from being opened or submitted
  • partitioned, which allows files to be opened and submitted


See Global options.

Usage Notes

Can File Arguments Use Revision Specifier? Can File Arguments Use Revision Range? Minimal Access Level Required




  • Use quotation marks to enclose depot-side or client side mappings of file or directory names that contain spaces.
  • Spaces in workspace names are translated to underscores. For example, typing the command p4 client "my workspace" creates a workspace called my_workspace.
  • By default, any user can edit any workspace specification with p4 clientclientname. To prevent this from happening, set the locked option and use p4 passwd to create a password for the workspace owner.
  • To specify a workspace on Windows that spans multiple drives, use a Root: of null, and specify the drive letters in the workspace view. For instance, the following workspace spec with a null root maps //depot/main/... to an area of the C: drive, and other releases to the D: drive:

    Client: eds_win
    Owner:  edk
            Ed's Windows Workspace
    Root:   null
    Options:        nomodtime noclobber
    SubmitOptions:  submitunchanged
            //depot/main/...     "//eds_win/c:/Current Release/..."
            //depot/rel1.0/...   //eds_win/d:/old/rel1.0/...
            //depot/rel2.0/...   //eds_win/d:/old/rel2.0/...

    Indent each line under a field, as shown above for Description: and View:

    Use lowercase drive letters when specifying workspaces across multiple drives.

Options field

The Options: field contains values separated by spaces. Each of the options has two possible settings:

Option Choice Default


If allwrite is set, unopened files in the workspace are left writable.

If allwrite is set and noclobber is NOT specified, a safe synchronization is performed.

A setting of allwrite leaves unopened files writable by the current user. It does not set filesystem permissions to ensure that files are writable by any user of a multi-user system.



If clobber is set, a p4 sync overwrites ("clobbers") files in the workspace that have the same name as the newly-synced files if those files are writable but unopened.

If allwrite is set and noclobber is NOT specified, a safe synchronization is performed.



If compress is set, the data stream between the user’s workstation and the Perforce service is compressed.

The compress option speeds up communications over slow links by reducing the amount of data that has to be transmitted. Over fast links, the compression process itself may consume more time than is saved in transmission. In general, compress should be set only for line speeds under T1.



Grant or deny other users permission to edit or delete the workspace specification. (To make a locked workspace effective, the workspace’s owner’s password must be set with p4 passwd.)

If locked, only the owner is able to use or edit the workspace specification. Helix server administrators can override the lock by using the -f (force) option with p4 client.



For files without the +m (modtime) file type modifier:

  • If modtime is set, the modification date (on the local filesystem) of a newly synced file is the datestamp on the file when the file was last modified.
  • If nomodtime is set, the modification date is the date and time of sync, regardless of version.

For files with the +m (modtime) file type modifier: the modification date (on the local filesystem) of a newly synced file is the datestamp on the file when the file was submitted to the depot, regardless of the setting of modtime or nomodtime on the client.

Files with the modtime (+m) type are intended for udevelopers who need to preserve original timestamps on files. The use of +m in a file type overrides the workspace’s modtime or nomodtime setting. For a more complete discussion of the +m modifier, see File types.

nomodtime (date and time of sync) for most files.

Ignored for files with the +m file type modifier.


If rmdir is set, when a command such as p4 sync causes a non-empty workspace directory to become empty, that workspace directory is deleted.


If rmdir is set, p4 sync might remove your current working directory. If so, change to an existing directory before continuing with your work.


Processing line endings

The LineEnd: field controls the line-ending character(s) used for text files in the client workspace. Changing the line end option does not actually update the client files; you can refresh them with p4 sync -f.

The LineEnd: field accepts one of five values:

Option Meaning


Use mode native to the client (default)


UNIX-style (and Mac OS X) line endings: LF


Mac pre-OS X: CR only


Windows- style: CR + LF.


The share option normalizes mixed line-endings into UNIX line-end format. The share option does not affect files already synced into a workspace; however, when files are submitted to the depot, the share option converts all Windows-style CR/LF line-endings and all Mac-style CR line-endings to the UNIX-style LF, leaving lone LF line-endings untouched.

When you sync your workspace, line endings are set to LF. If you edit the file on a Windows machine, and your editor inserts CR characters before each LF, the extra CR characters do not appear in the archive file.

The most common use of the share option is for users of Windows workstations who mount their UNIX home directories as network drives; if you sync files from UNIX, but edit the files on a Windows machine.

The share option implicitly edits the file(s) during a submit. As a consequence, if you have set the LineEnd field to share in your client spec, the p4 resolve command may prompt you to edit the file before resolving.

For more information, see the Support Knowledgebase article, "CR/LF Issues and Text Line-endings".

Working with streams

Without -s, the -S stream option can be used to create a new client spec dedicated to a stream. If the client spec already exists, and -S is used without -s, it is ignored. Using -S sets the client’s Stream field. The special syntax -S //a/stream@changelist can be used to set both Stream and StreamAtChange at the same time.

The -S stream option can be used with -o -c change to inspect an old stream client view. It yields the client spec that would have been created for the stream at the moment the change was recorded.

Working with build servers

A server of type build-server (see p4 help server) is a replica that supports build farm integration, and the p4 client command may be used to create or edit client workspaces on a build-server. Such workspaces may issue the p4 sync command in addition to any read-only command supported by the replica. For more information, run p4 help buildserver.

When creating or editing a client workspace for a build-server, the client specified by the optional name argument, as well as the client specified by the P4CLIENT environment variable or via the global -c client argument must not exist, or must be restricted to this server; this command may not be used to create or edit a workspace that is not restricted to this build-server.

Working with read-only clients

Build automation scripts, which routinely create, sync, and tear down clients, may fragment the db.have table over time. To avoid this, you can specify the type readonly for these clients. Such clients cannot add, delete, edit, integrate, or submit files, but this should not be an issue in build scripts.

A readonly client is assigned its own personal db.have database table, and the location of this table is specified using the client.readonly.dir configurable.

To set up a read-only client:

  1. Set the client.readonly.dir configurable to the directory where the db.* tables for the client should be stored.

    For example, if you create a read-only client whose name is myroc and you set client.readonly.dir to /perforce/1, then syncing files using this client will write to the following database


  2. Set the Type field of the client spec to readonly.

Including Graph Depot repos in your client

See p4 client (graph).


p4 client

Edit or create the workspace specification named by the value of P4CLIENT or its equivalents.

p4 client -t gale bruno

Create or edit a workspace named bruno, opening the form with the field values and workspace options in the workspace named gale as defaults.

p4 client -d release1

Delete the workspace named release1.

p4 client -o build-client | sed "s/Created by/Created by automated build/" | p4 client -i

Automate the modification of the Description: field in a client specification.

This example uses -o and -i to redirect from standard out to standard in.

Related Commands

To list all workspaces known to the system

p4 clients

To read files from the depot into the workspace

p4 sync

To open new files in the workspace for addition to the depot

p4 add

To open files in the workspace for edit

p4 edit

To open files in the workspace for deletion

p4 delete

To write changes in workspace files to the depot

p4 submit

Graph depot version p4 client (graph)