What is public folder inside Next.js?

What is public folder inside Next.js?

Next.js, a leading React framework, simplifies the development of server-rendered and statically generated web applications. Among its various features, the public folder plays a pivotal role. This directory in Next.js is specially designed for serving static assets, which include images, stylesheets, and other files necessary for your application. These assets are accessible from the root URL, making them easily referable in your project.

Understanding the Public Folder

The public folder in Next.js is your go-to place for all static assets that your web application needs. Unlike other directories in a Next.js project, files in the public folder do not undergo processing or bundling by Webpack. They are served as-is, which makes them ideal for images, favicons, robots.txt files, and more. The fundamental purpose of this folder is to store assets that can be accessed directly via the browser without the need for additional server-side handling.

Public vs. Other Folders in Next.js

In contrast to the public folder, other directories in a Next.js project, like the pages or components folders, have specific roles and handling mechanisms. For instance, the pages directory is where you place your page components, which Next.js automatically routes based on the file names. On the other hand, the public folder’s contents are not processed in any way and are served exactly as they are, making it different in terms of functionality and purpose.

Setting Up the Public Folder

To set up the public folder in a Next.js project, simply create a directory named public at the root of your project. Anything placed in this folder will be served from the root URL. For example, if you place an image named logo.png in the public folder, it can be accessed via http://localhost:3000/logo.png in your local development environment.

Default Structure and Location

By default, the public folder is located at the root of your Next.js project. This standardized location and structure ensure that assets are easily manageable and accessible across different projects. There is no predefined sub-directory structure within the public folder, giving developers the flexibility to organize their static assets as needed.

Storing Static Assets

The public folder is ideal for storing various types of static files such as images, stylesheets, JavaScript files, and other assets like fonts and icons. Storing these files in the public folder benefits from faster access and better performance, as they are served directly by the web server without any additional processing.

Best Practices for Organizing Files

For efficient organization within the public folder, it’s advisable to create subdirectories for different asset types. For example, have a images folder for all your image files, a styles folder for CSS files, and so on. This not only improves readability but also makes it easier to manage your assets as your application grows.

Accessing and Referencing Files

To reference static assets in your Next.js components, you simply use the root-based path. For example, an image file named example.jpg stored in the public/images folder can be referenced in your component as <img src="/images/example.jpg" alt="Example" />.

Linking to Images and Stylesheets

When linking to images, stylesheets, or other static files in your Next.js project, ensure that you use the correct path relative to the public folder. For instance, for a stylesheet located at public/styles/main.css, you would link it in your component or HTML file as <link rel="stylesheet" href="/styles/main.css">.

Handling Root-Relative URLs

In Next.js, root-relative URLs provide a straightforward way to reference assets from the public folder. Unlike traditional relative paths, which depend on the directory structure, root-relative URLs begin with a / and point directly to the root of your application. This is particularly useful in Next.js, where file-based routing can make relative paths cumbersome and error-prone.

For example, if you have an image named logo.png in your public folder, you can reference it in your JSX code as <img src="/logo.png" alt="Logo">. This method ensures that the image is correctly loaded regardless of the page component’s location in the project structure.

Optimization and Performance

Next.js excels in optimizing static assets, significantly impacting your application’s performance. By serving static files from the public folder, Next.js ensures they are cacheable and served without additional server-side processing. This approach reduces latency and improves the overall user experience.

Furthermore, Next.js’s built-in Image component automatically optimizes images for different screen sizes and resolutions, enhancing performance and reducing unnecessary data transfer.

Optimizing File Sizes and Formats

To further enhance your application’s performance, pay attention to the sizes and formats of the files in the public folder. Compressing images, using modern formats like WebP, and minifying CSS and JavaScript files can drastically reduce load times. Tools like ImageOptim for images and UglifyJS for JavaScript files are excellent for this purpose.

Security Considerations

While the public folder is extremely convenient, it’s important to remember that everything in it is publicly accessible. Avoid storing sensitive information or configuration files in this directory. It’s also a good practice to implement appropriate Content Security Policies (CSP) to prevent potential security breaches.


  1. Can I use server-side code in the public folder? No, files in the public folder are served statically and cannot contain server-side code.
  2. How do I prevent a file in the public folder from being accessed publicly? The best practice is to not place sensitive files in the public folder in the first place. If necessary, configure your server to restrict access to certain paths.

Sharing is caring

Did you like what Pranav wrote? Thank them for their work by sharing it on social media.


No comments so far