Command-line flags

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Error Prone lets the user enable and disable specific checks as well as override their built-in severity levels (warning vs. error) by passing options to the Error Prone compiler invocation.

A valid Error Prone command-line option looks like:


checkName is required and is the canonical name of the check, e.g. “ReferenceEquality”. severity is one of {“OFF”, “WARN”, “ERROR”}. Multiple flags must be passed to enable or disable multiple checks. The last flag for a specific check wins.

Examples of usage follow:

-Xep:ReferenceEquality  [turns on ReferenceEquality check with the severity level from its BugPattern annotation]
-Xep:ReferenceEquality:OFF  [turns off ReferenceEquality check]
-Xep:ReferenceEquality:WARN  [turns on ReferenceEquality check as a warning]
-Xep:ReferenceEquality:ERROR  [turns on ReferenceEquality check as an error]
-Xep:ReferenceEquality:OFF -Xep:ReferenceEquality  [turns on ReferenceEquality check]

There are also a few blanket severity-changing flags:

  • -XepAllErrorsAsWarnings
  • -XepAllSuggestionsAsWarnings
  • -XepAllDisabledChecksAsWarnings
  • -XepDisableAllChecks
  • -XepDisableAllWarnings
  • -XepDisableWarningsInGeneratedCode : Disables warnings in classes annotated with @Generated

With any of the blanket flags, you can pass additional flags afterward to tweak the level of individual checks. E.g., this flag combination disables all checks except for ReferenceEquality:

-XepDisableAllChecks -Xep:ReferenceEquality:ERROR

Additionally, you can completely exclude certain paths from any Error Prone checking via the -XepExcludedPaths flag. The flag takes as an argument a regular expression that is matched against a source file’s path to determine whether it should be excluded. So, to exclude files in any sub-directory of a path containing build/generated, use the option:


If you pass a flag that refers to an unknown check name, by default Error Prone will throw an error. You can allow the use of unknown check names by passing the -XepIgnoreUnknownCheckNames flag.

We no longer support the old-style Error Prone disabling flags that used the -Xepdisable:<checkName> syntax.


There are a couple of flags for configuration of patching in suggested fixes, e.g. -XepPatchChecks:VALUE and -XepPatchLocation:VALUE. See the patching docs for more info.

Pass Additional Info to BugCheckers

To configure checks, you can use custom flags to pass info directly to BugCheckers. A valid custom flag looks like this:


By convention, if a flag is only relevant to one check or a group of checks, to prevent name collision, you should prefix your flag’s name with an optional namespace and a colon, e.g. -XepOpt:JUnit4TestNotRun:ExpandedHeuristic=true.

If a flag is set with no value provided, that flag is set to true, e.g. -XepOpt:MakeAwesome is equivalent to -XepOpt:MakeAwesome=true.

Some examples:

-XepOpt:FlagName=SomeValue        (flags["FlagName"] = "SomeValue")
-XepOpt:BooleanFlag               (flags["BooleanFlag"] = "true")
-XepOpt:ListFlag=1,2,3            (flags["ListFlag"] = "1,2,3")
-XepOpt:Namespace:SomeFlag=AValue (flags["Namespace:SomeFlag"] = "AValue")

These flags can be accessed in a BugChecker just by adding a one-argument constructor that takes an ErrorProneFlags object, like so:

public class MyChecker extends BugChecker implements SomeTreeMatcher {

  private final boolean coolness;

  public MyChecker(ErrorProneFlags flags) {
    // The ErrorProneFlags get* methods return an Optional<*>, use
    // Optional.orElse(...) and related methods to get with default, etc.
    this.coolness = flags.getBoolean("ErrorProne:IsCool").orElse(true);

  public Description matchSomething(...) {...}


To pass Error Prone flags to Maven, use the compilerArgs parameter in the plugin’s configuration. The flags must be appended to the arg entry containing -Xplugin:ErrorProne. To enable warnings, the showWarnings parameter must also be set:

            <arg>-Xplugin:ErrorProne -Xep:DeadException:WARN -Xep:GuardedBy:OFF</arg>

Be aware that when running on JDK 8 the flags cannot be wrapped across multiple lines. JDK 9 and above do allow the flags to be separated by newlines. That is, the second <arg> element above can also be formatted as follows on JDK 9+, but not on JDK 8:

  -Xplugin:ErrorProne \
  -Xep:DeadException:WARN \

NOTE: using multi-line <arg>s does not work on Windows when <fork> is enabled, see