Skaffold profiles allow you to define build, test and deployment configurations for different contexts. Different contexts are typically different environments in your app’s lifecycle, like Production or Development.

You can create profiles in the profiles section of skaffold.yaml.

For a detailed discussion on Skaffold configuration, see Skaffold Concepts and skaffold.yaml References.

Profiles (profiles)

Each profile has six parts:

  • Name (name): The name of the profile
  • Build configuration (build)
  • Test configuration (test)
  • Deploy configuration (deploy)
  • Patches (patches)
  • Activation (activation)

Once a profile is activated, the specified build, test and deploy configuration in it will be laid onto, but won’t completely replace, the build, test and deploy sections declared in the main section of skaffold.yaml. The build, test and deploy configuration in the profiles section use the same syntax as the build, test and deploy sections of skaffold.yaml; for more information, see Builders, Testers, Deployers and you can always refer to skaffold.yaml reference for an overview of the syntax. Alternatively, you can override the main configuration with finer grained control using patches.


You can activate a profile two ways: CLI flag or skaffold.yaml activations.

CLI flag: You can activate profiles with the -p (--profile) parameter in the skaffold dev and skaffold run commands.

skaffold run -p [PROFILE]

Activations in skaffold.yaml: You can auto-activate a profile based on

  • kubecontext (could be either a string or a regexp: prefixing with ! will negate the match)
  • environment variable value
  • skaffold command (dev/run/build/deploy)

A profile is auto-activated if any one of the activations under it are triggered. An activation is triggered if all of the criteria (env, kubeContext, command) are triggered.

In the example below:

  • profile1 is activated if MAGIC_VAR is 42
  • profile2 is activated if MAGIC_VAR is 1337 or we are running skaffold dev while kubecontext is set to minikube.
  - image:
  - k8s-pod
- name: profile1
    - env: MAGIC_VAR=42
- name: profile2
    - env: MAGIC_VAR=1337
    - kubeContext: minikube
      command: dev

Override via replacement

The build, test and deploy sections defined in the profile will be laid onto the main configuration. The default values are the same in profiles as in the main config.

The following example showcases a skaffold.yaml with one profile named gcb, for building with Google Cloud Build:

  - image:
  - k8s-pod
- name: gcb
      projectId: k8s-skaffold

With no profile activated, Skaffold will build the artifact using local Docker daemon and deploy it with kubectl.

However, if you run Skaffold with the following command:

skaffold dev -p gcb

Skaffold will switch to Google Cloud Build for building artifacts.

Note that since the gcb profile does not specify a deploy configuration, Skaffold will continue using kubectl for deployments.

Override via patches

Patches are a more verbose way of overriding your config, but they provide a powerful, fine-grained way to override individual values in your yaml config. They are based on JSON Patch under the hood.

In the example below instead of overriding the whole build section, the dev profile specifically defines a different Dockerfile to use for the first artifact.

    - image:
        dockerfile: Dockerfile
    - image:
    - image:
  - k8s-pod
  - name: dev
      - op: replace
        path: /build/artifacts/0/docker/dockerfile
        value: Dockerfile_dev

Activating multiple profiles at the same time

Multiple profiles can be specified either by using the -p flag multiple times or by comma separated profiles.

skaffold dev -p hello,world

Skaffold will activate both profiles, hello and world. This is e.g. useful when combined with patches to provide a composable development setup where hello and world can be added on demand.

Deactivating Profiles

Profiles can also be manually deactivated by prefixing the profile name with - like so:

skaffold dev -p hello,-world

Skaffold will activate the hello profile, and deactivate the world profile, even if it had otherwise been activated through the configuration.

Last modified May 14, 2024: release: v2.12.0 (#9418) (f386e6c)