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TMPDIR is the canonical Unix environment variable that should be used to specify a temporary directory for scratch space. Most Unix programs will honor this setting and use its value to denote the scratch area for temporary files instead of the common default of /tmp[1][2] or /var/tmp.[3]

Other forms sometimes accepted are TEMP, TEMPDIR and TMP, but these alternatives are used more commonly by non-POSIX operating systems or non-conformant programs.

TMPDIR is specified in various Unix and similar standards, e.g. per the Single UNIX Specification.[4]