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Keep access tokens private in open source iOS and Android apps

An app using the Mapbox Maps SDK for iOS or the Mapbox Maps SDK for Android, must provide an access token to display Mapbox-hosted maps and use other Mapbox services.

It is important to practice responsible token management with all Mapbox access tokens. This guide expands on general token management strategies to provide guidance specific to iOS and Android applications.


  1. Create a new plain text file containing your access token, named either .mapbox or mapbox. To avoid accidentally committing this file to an open-source project, either you can save it to a location outside your project's version-controlled directory, or you can add this file to your project’s .gitignore file.
  2. Open your project in Xcode. In the project editor, go to the Build Phases tab, then click the + button to add a new Run Script phase to the end.
  3. Customize the Run Script build phase to run the following code (replacing ~/.mapbox or ~/mapbox with the path to the file you added in step 1):
    # Look for a global file named 'mapbox' or '.mapbox' within the home directory
    token="$(cat $token_file 2>/dev/null || cat $token_file2 2>/dev/null)"
    if [ "$token" ]; then
    plutil -replace MBXAccessToken -string $token "$TARGET_BUILD_DIR/$INFOPLIST_PATH"
    echo 'warning: Missing Mapbox access token'
    open ''
    echo "warning: Get an access token from <>, then create a new file at $token_file or $token_file2 that contains the access token."
  4. Add $(TARGET_BUILD_DIR)/$(INFOPLIST_PATH) to the build phase’s Input Files section. Otherwise, the access token may be overridden during incremental builds. Optionally, you can also add ~/.mapbox or ~/mapbox to this section, so that Xcode will automatically update Info.plist after you change your access token.

When building the project in Xcode, the access token will be inserted into the Info.plist inside your built app, but not into the Info.plist that you’d commit.


Git-based option

Be aware that to enable continuous integration builds with the following approach, you can take advantage of a Gradle script that the Mapbox Android team uses itself.

  1. Create a local .gitignore file in your repository folder. If the folder already has a .gitignore file, locate and open it.
  2. Add the following line to the .gitignore file : YOUR_APP_MODULE_NAME/src/main/res/values/developer-config.xml. This will tell the Git system to ignore the XML values file that you will create in the next step.
  3. Navigate to your project's src/main/res/values folder and make a new file titled developer-config.xml.
  4. Create an mapbox_access_token String resource and paste your access token into it:
<string name="mapbox_access_token">PASTE_YOUR_TOKEN_HERE</string>
  1. At this point, the R.string.mapbox_access_token string resource should be discoverable wherever you deliver the access token to the Mapbox class such as: Mapbox.getInstance(context, getString(R.string.mapbox_access_token));
  2. Because of step #3 above, the Git system shouldn't be tracking the developer-config.xml file at all.
  3. You're all set! You can use and change the Mapbox access token locally on your machine without the chance of committing and pushing it to a public platform such as GitHub!

Non-Git option

  1. Find or create a file in your Gradle user home folder. The folder is located at «USER_HOME»/.gradle. Once the file is created, its path should be «USER_HOME»/.gradle/ More information about Gradle properties.
  2. Add a key-value pair to the file: MAPBOX_ACCESS_TOKEN="PASTE_YOUR_TOKEN_HERE";
  3. Open your app-level build.gradle file. This file is usually the one where you define specific dependencies for your app, such as the Mapbox Maps SDK for Android.
  4. Add MAPBOX_ACCESS_TOKEN as a buildConfigField entry to whichever buildTypes your app has:
android {
buildTypes {
debug {
buildConfigField 'String', "MapboxAccessToken", MAPBOX_ACCESS_TOKEN
release {
buildConfigField 'String', "MapboxAccessToken", MAPBOX_ACCESS_TOKEN

5. Because your Gradle files have changed, make sure to sync the project with the latest Gradle files. 6. Now you can access your Mapbox access token in your app to initialize the Mapbox Maps SDK for Android: Mapbox.getInstance(context, BuildConfig.MapboxAccessToken);

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