4 min read

4 Essential Steps after Installing Directus

So you've just installed Directus and wondering what's next? I've gathered the 4 essential steps to get started right away.
4 Essential Steps after Installing Directus

So you've just installed Directus and wondering what's next? I've gathered the 4 essential steps in the article below.

1. Configure Email Settings

This is really important, without adding the email settings, user's will not receive any emails from Directus including password reset tokens. In your project folder is the configuration file called .env. Edit this file using the following command.

vim /path/to/your/project/.env

Near the bottom, you'll see the MAIL_TRANSPORT setting, change this to smtp and add the missing parameters listed below.

EMAIL_FROM="[email protected]"

As for the SMTP settings, you can sign up with a smtp provider such as:

These have a free tier but check if the monthly volume is enough. If you want to start email marketing, these platforms will grow with you. Moosend in particular has an excellend online builder so you don't need to worry about coding emails. Once you have an account, obtain the smtp settings and credentials. I recommend you integrate your domain name so you can send emails from your own domain and they get digitally signed so they won't go to spam. Some organisations will have a dedicated SMTP server or Saas, please speak to your IT team for the details.

2. Create a Service for Directus

So you have installed Directus on your server or local computer and run the npx command, what comes next? When you close your terminal session, Directus closes as well. What you need to do is create a background service.

Create a New Service

Create a new service using the following command:

vim /etc/systemd/system/directus.service

Paste the following code into the editor and replace User and the Working Directory

Description=Directus 9

ExecStart=npx directus start


Save the changes and close. For those unfamiliar with vim, make sure you are out of the editing mode by pressing ESC, then type :wq and press ENTER.

Start the new service

Type the following command to start the new service.

systemctl start directus

Add the service to system startup

Type the following command and your service will start on system boot.

systemctl enable directus

It's now safe to close your terminal. You can confirm if Directus is running by using this command:

systemctl status directus

This will output the most recent logs.

Now that the background service is running, you can continue to access Directus after you close your session.

3. Connect Nginx to Directus

We now have Directus running as a service and is accessible locally via assuming it's the default port. If you need to change the port, it's under the .env configuration file in the root of your project folder.

Create a new Nginx config file:

vim /etc/nginx/conf.d/directus.example.com.conf

Copy and Paste the following template and replace the server_name and proxy_pass port with your details. You will also need to supply your SSL configuration. If you don't need SSL, remove the listening port 443 line.

server {
    listen 80;
    listen 443 ssl http2;
    server_name directus.example.com;
    # Include your SSL details here #

    location / {
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header REMOTE-HOST $remote_addr;
        add_header X-Cache $upstream_cache_status;

        proxy_connect_timeout 30s;
        proxy_read_timeout 86400s;
        proxy_send_timeout 30s;
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
    access_log  /var/log/nginx/directus.example.com.log;
    error_log  /var/log/nginx/directus.example.com.error.log;

Save and close your configuration file. If you are unfamilar with vim, make sure to exit the editor mode by pressing ESC, the type :wq and press ENTER.

Test your nginx configuration using:

nginx -t

If unsuccessful, the output will say where the error occured. Address any issues and repeat.

Restart Nginx to apply the changes.

service nginx restart

You can now access Directus from your domain name (assuming the DNS is configured and port 80 and 443 are open on the firewall).

403 Gateway Issue

Are you getting the 403 Gateway issue? This means your nginx configuration is trying to load the proxy address and there is nothing running. Make sure your Directus project has been started, the port is correct or the service is running.

4. API User

To use the API, you will need to create a new role. With this role, you can specify exactly what access your application needs from Directus. Note, any new collections will default as No Access for the API role.

API permissions example

Next, create a new User and assign the new role to this user. Lastly, down the bottom, set a Token for this user. This is the Bearer Token used for API calls.

Example of the token field in the user profile


Directus is a very powerful application and it is important to start on the right foot. Completing these steps will ensure you can run Directus from your own domain name, recieve important emails such as the password reset tokens and lastly, utilise the API.

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