General Tools

Keyboard shortcuts

QGIS provides default keyboard shortcuts for many features. You can find them in section Menu Bar. Additionally, the menu option Settings ‣ Configure Shortcuts... allows you to change the default keyboard shortcuts and add new keyboard shortcuts to QGIS features.

Figure Shortcuts 1:


Define shortcut options

Configuration is very simple. Just select a feature from the list and click on :

  • [Change] and press the new combination you want to assign as new shortcut
  • [Set none] to clear any assigned shortcut
  • or [Set default] to backup the shortcut to its original and default value.

Once you have finished your configuration, you can save it as an XML file and load it to another QGIS installation.

Context help

When you need help on a specific topic, you can access context help via the [Help] button available in most dialogs — please note that third-party plugins can point to dedicated web pages.


By default, QGIS renders all visible layers whenever the map canvas is refreshed. The events that trigger a refresh of the map canvas include:

  • Adding a layer
  • Panning or zooming
  • Resizing the QGIS window
  • Changing the visibility of a layer or layers

QGIS allows you to control the rendering process in a number of ways.

Scale Dependent Rendering

Scale-dependent rendering allows you to specify the minimum and maximum scales at which a layer will be visible. To set scale-dependent rendering, open the Properties dialog by double-clicking on the layer in the legend. On the General tab, click on the checkbox Scale dependent visibility checkbox to activate the feature, then set the minimum and maximum scale values.

You can determine the scale values by first zooming to the level you want to use and noting the scale value in the QGIS status bar.

Controlling Map Rendering

Map rendering can be controlled in various ways, as described below.

Suspending Rendering

To suspend rendering, click the checkbox Render checkbox in the lower right corner of the status bar. When the checkbox Render checkbox is not checked, QGIS does not redraw the canvas in response to any of the events described in section Rendering. Examples of when you might want to suspend rendering include:

  • Adding many layers and symbolizing them prior to drawing
  • Adding one or more large layers and setting scale dependency before drawing
  • Adding one or more large layers and zooming to a specific view before drawing
  • Any combination of the above

Checking the checkbox Render checkbox enables rendering and causes an immediate refresh of the map canvas.

Setting Layer Add Option

You can set an option to always load new layers without drawing them. This means the layer will be added to the map, but its visibility checkbox in the legend will be unchecked by default. To set this option, choose menu option Settings ‣ Options and click on the Rendering tab. Uncheck the checkbox By default new layers added to the map should be displayed checkbox. Any layer subsequently added to the map will be off (invisible) by default.

Stopping Rendering

To stop the map drawing, press the ESC key. This will halt the refresh of the map canvas and leave the map partially drawn. It may take a bit of time between pressing ESC and the time the map drawing is halted.


It is currently not possible to stop rendering — this was disabled in the Qt4 port because of User Interface (UI) problems and crashes.

Influence Rendering Quality

QGIS has an option to influence the rendering quality of the map. Choose menu option Settings ‣ Options, click on the Rendering tab and select or deselect checkbox Make lines appear less jagged at the expense of some drawing performance.

Speed-up rendering

There are some settings that allow you to improve rendering speed. Open the QGIS options dialog using Settings ‣ Options, go to the Rendering tab and select or deselect the following checkboxes:

  • checkbox Use render caching where possible to speed up redraws
  • checkbox Render layers in parallel using many CPU cores and then set the checkbox Max cores to use.
  • The map renders in the background onto a separate image and each checkbox Map Update interval, the content from this (off-screen) image will be taken to update the visible screen representation. However, if rendering finishes faster than this duration, it will be shown instantaneously.
  • With checkbox Enable Feature simplification by default for newly added layers, you simplify features’ geometry (less nodes) and as a result, they quickly display. Be aware that you can also face rendering inconsistencies.

Color Selector

The select color dialog will appear whenever you push the selectColor icon to choose a color. The features of this dialog depends on the state of the Use native color chooser dialogs parameter checkbox in Settings ‣ Options ‣ General menu. When checked, the color dialog used is the one of the OS being used. Otherwise, QGIS custom color chooser is used.

This dialog has four different tabs which allow you to select colors by colorBox color ramp, colorWheel color wheel, colorSwatches color swatches or colorPicker color picker (not available under osx).

Whatever method you use, the selected color is always described through color sliders for HSV (Hue, Saturation, Value) and RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values. There is also an opacity slider to set transparency level. On the lower left part of the dialog you can see a comparison between the current and the new color you are presently selecting and on the lower right part you have the option to add the color you just tweaked into a color slot button.

Figure color selector 1:


Color selector ramp tab


Dynamically change the color with the live-updating option

Check the Use live-updating color chooser dialogs option in the General Settings to have the color applied to your items as you change color parameters in the QGIS custom color chooser dialog.

With colorBox color ramp or with colorWheel color wheel, you can browse to all possible color combinations. There are other possibilities though. By using colorSwatches color swatches you can choose from a preselected list. This selected list is populated with one of three methods:

  • Recent colors,
  • Standard colors, a user-defined list of colors set under Settings ‣ Options ‣ Colors menu
  • or Project colors, a user-defined list of colors set under Project ‣ Project Properties ‣ Default Styles.

Figure color selector 2:


Color selector switcher tab

Another option is to use the colorPicker color picker which allows you to sample a color from under your mouse pointer at any part of QGIS or even from another application by pressing the space bar. Please note that the color picker is OS dependent and is currently not supported by OSX.


quick color picker + copy/paste colors

You can quickly choose from Recent colors, from Standard colors or simply copy or paste a color by clicking the drop-down arrow that follows the selectColor color box.

Figure color selector 3:


Quick color selector menu

Blending Modes

QGIS offers different options for special rendering effects with these tools that you may previously only know from graphics programs. Blending modes can be applied on layers, on features but also on print composer items:

  • Normal: This is the standard blend mode, which uses the alpha channel of the top pixel to blend with the pixel beneath it. The colors aren’t mixed.
  • Lighten: This selects the maximum of each component from the foreground and background pixels. Be aware that the results tend to be jagged and harsh.
  • Screen: Light pixels from the source are painted over the destination, while dark pixels are not. This mode is most useful for mixing the texture of one item with another item (e.g., you can use a hillshade to texture another layer).
  • Dodge: Dodge will brighten and saturate underlying pixels based on the lightness of the top pixel. So, brighter top pixels cause the saturation and brightness of the underlying pixels to increase. This works best if the top pixels aren’t too bright; otherwise the effect is too extreme.
  • Addition: This blend mode simply adds pixel values of one item with the other. In case of values above one (in the case of RGB), white is displayed. This mode is suitable for highlighting features.
  • Darken: This creates a resultant pixel that retains the smallest components of the foreground and background pixels. Like lighten, the results tend to be jagged and harsh.
  • Multiply: Here, the numbers for each pixel of the top item are multiplied with the corresponding pixels for the bottom item. The results are darker pictures.
  • Burn: Darker colors in the top item cause the underlying items to darken. Burn can be used to tweak and colorise underlying layers.
  • Overlay: This mode combines the multiply and screen blending modes. In the resulting picture, light parts become lighter and dark parts become darker.
  • Soft light: This is very similar to overlay, but instead of using multiply/screen it uses color burn/dodge. This is supposed to emulate shining a soft light onto an image.
  • Hard light: Hard light is also very similar to the overlay mode. It’s supposed to emulate projecting a very intense light onto an image.
  • Difference: Difference subtracts the top pixel from the bottom pixel, or the other way around, to always get a positive value. Blending with black produces no change, as the difference with all colors is zero.
  • Subtract: This blend mode simply subtracts pixel values of one item from the other. In case of negative values, black is displayed.

Zooming and Panning

QGIS provides tools to zoom and pan to your area of interest.

Apart from using the pan pan and zoomIn zoom-in / zoomOut zoom-out icons on the toolbar with the mouse, navigating can also be done with the mouse wheel, spacebar and the arrow keys.

Zooming and panning with the mouse wheel

You can press the mouse wheel to pan inside of the main window, and you can roll the mouse wheel to zoom in and out on the map. For zooming, place the mouse cursor inside the map area and roll it forward (away from you) to zoom in and backwards (towards you) to zoom out. The mouse cursor position will be the center of the zoomed area of interest. You can customize the behavior of the mouse wheel zoom using the Map tools tab under the Settings ‣ options Options menu.

Panning with the arrow keys

Panning the map is possible with the arrow keys. Place the mouse cursor inside the map area, and click on the right arrow key to pan east, left arrow key to pan west, up arrow key to pan north, and down arrow key to pan south.

You can also use the space bar to temporarily cause mouse movements to pan the map. The PgUp and PgDown keys on your keyboard will cause the map display to zoom in or out.


QGIS provides four means of measuring geometries:

  • the interactive measurement tools measure,
  • measuring in the calculateField Field Calculator,
  • derived measures in the Identify features tool,
  • and a vector analysis tool: Vector ‣ Geometry Tools ‣ Export/Add Geometry Columns

Measuring works within projected coordinate systems (e.g., UTM) and unprojected data. The first three measuring tools behave equally to global project settings:

If “on the fly” CRS transformation is enabled, the default measurement metric is - different from most other GIS - ellipsoidal, using the ellipsoid defined in File ‣ Project properties ‣ General. This is true both when geographic and projected coordinate systems are defined for the project. If you want to calculate the projected / planimetric area or distance using cartesian maths, the measurement ellipsoid has to be set to “None / Planimetric” (File ‣ Project properties ‣ CRS). However, with a geographic (= unprojected) CRS defined for the data and project, area and distance measurement will be ellipsoidal. If “on the fly” CRS transformation is disabled, the measurement metric is planimetric when the project coordinate system is projected and ellipsoidal when the project coordinate system is unprojected / geographic.

However, neither the identify tool nor the field calculator will transform your data to the project CRS before measuring. If you want to achieve this, you have to use the vector analysis tool: Vector ‣ Geometry Tools ‣ Export/Add Geometry Columns. Here, measurement is by default planimetric except if you choose the ellipsoidal measure.

Measure length, areas and angles interactive

All measuring modules use the snapping settings from the digitizing module. This is useful, if you want to measure along lines or areas in vector layers.

To select a measuring tool, click on measure and select the tool you want to use.

By default, measure Measure Line: QGIS measures real distances between given points according to a defined ellipsoid. You can define a rubberband color and your preferred measurement units (meters or feet) and angle units (degrees, radians and gon) in the menu option Settings ‣ Options ‣ Map Tools. The tool then allows you to click points on the map. Each segment length, as well as the total, shows up in the measure window. To stop measuring, click your right mouse button. Note that you can interactively change the measurement units in the measurement dialog. It overrides the Preferred measurement units in the options. There is an info section in the dialog that shows which CRS settings are being used during measurement calculations.

Figure Measure 1:


Measure Distance

measureArea Measure Area: Areas can also be measured. In the measure window, the accumulated area size appears. In addition, the measuring tool will snap to the currently selected layer, provided that layer has its snapping tolerance set (see section Setting the Snapping Tolerance and Search Radius). So, if you want to measure exactly along a line feature, or around a polygon feature, first set its snapping tolerance, then select the layer. Now, when using the measuring tools, each mouse click (within the tolerance setting) will snap to that layer.

Figure Measure 2:


Measure Area

measureAngle Measure Angle: You can also measure angles. The cursor becomes cross-shaped. Click to draw the first segment of the angle you wish to measure, then move the cursor to draw the desired angle. The measure is displayed in a pop-up dialog.

Figure Measure 3:


Measure Angle

Select and deselect features

The QGIS toolbar provides several tools to select features in the map canvas. To select one or several features, just click on select and select your tool:

  • selectRectangle Select Features by area or single click to select feature(s) either by simple click or by rectangle
  • selectPolygon Select Features by Polygon
  • selectFreehand Select Features by Freehand
  • selectRadius Select Features by Radius

To deselect all selected features, click on deselectAll Deselect Features from All Layers.

expressionSelect Select features using an expression allows user to select features using expression dialog. See Expressions chapter for some example.

Users can save selected features into a New Memory Vector Layer or a New Vector Layer using Edit ‣ Copy Features and Edit ‣ Paste Features as in the wanted format.

Data defined override setup

Beside many options in the vector layer properties dialog or settings in the print composer, you can find a dataDefined Data defined override icon. Thanks to expressions based on layer attributes or item settings, prebuild or custom functions and variables, this tool allows you to set dynamic value for the concerned parameter. When enabled, the value returned by this widget is applied to the parameter regardless its normal value (checkbox, textbox, slider...).

Clicking the dataDefined Data defined override icon shows:

  • a Description ... that indicates if it is enabled, which input expected, valid input type and the current definition,
  • an entry to list the Field type available,
  • an entry to list the Variable available,
  • Edit ... button to create or edit the expression to use,
  • Paste and Copy buttons,
  • Clear button to remove the setup.


When the data-defined override option is setup correctly the icon is yellow dataDefineOn or dataDefineExpressionOn; if it is broken, the icon is red dataDefineError or dataDefineExpressionError.

Parameters that can be used with data-defined tools are:

  • Style and symbols parameters
  • Labels parameters
  • Composer parameters

Identify features

The Identify tool allows you to interact with the map canvas and get information on features in a pop-up window. To identify features, use View ‣ Identify features or press Ctrl + Shift + I, or click the identify Identify features icon on the Attributes toolbar.

QGIS offers two ways to identify features with the identify Identify features tool:

  • left click will identify features according to the mode set in the Identify results panel
  • right click will fetch all the snapped features from all the visible layers. This will open a context menu, allowing the user to choose more precisely the features to identify.

If you click on feature(s), the Identify results dialog will list information about the clicked feature(s). The default view is a tree view where the first item is the name of the layer and its children are its identified feature(s). Each feature is described by the name of a field along with its value. This field is the one set in Properties ‣ Display. Then follows all the other information about the feature.

This window can be customized to display custom fields, but by default it will display three kinds of information:

  • Actions: Actions can be added to the identify feature windows. The action is run by clicking on the action label. By default, only one action is added, namely view feature form for editing. You can define more actions in the layer’s properties dialog.
  • Derived: This information is calculated or derived from other information. This includes the feature id, its length or perimeter and area in map units depending on its geometry, the count of spatial parts and the number of the clicked part in case of multi-geometry, the count of vertices in the feature and the number of the closest one to the point clicked. It also reports the X and Y (and Z/M if available) coordinate values of both clicked point and feature closest vertex.
  • Data attributes: This is the list of attribute fields and values for the feature that has been clicked.

Figure Identify 1:


Identify features dialog

At the top of the window, you have seven icons:

  • expandTree Expand tree
  • collapseTree Collapse tree
  • expandNewTree Default behavior to define whether next identified features information should be collapsed or expanded
  • propertyItem View the feature form
  • deselectAll Clear Results
  • editCopy Copy selected feature to clipboard
  • filePrint Print selected HTML response

At the bottom of the window, you have the Mode and View comboboxes. With the Mode combobox you can define from which layers features should be identified:

  • ‘Current layer’ : only features from the selected layer are identified. The layer may not be visible in the canvas.
  • ‘Top down, stop at first’: for only features from the upper visible layer.
  • ‘Top down’: for all features from the visible layers. The results are shown in the panel.
  • and ‘Layer selection’: opens a context menu where the user selects the layer to identify features from. Operates like a right-click. Only the chosen features will be shown in the result panel.

The View can be set as ‘Tree’, ‘Table’ or ‘Graph’. ‘Table’ and ‘Graph’ views can only be set for raster layers.

The identify tool allows you to checkboxauto open a form. If checked, each time a single feature is identified QGIS will open a form showing its attributes. This is a handy way to quickly edit a feature’s attributes.

Other functions can be found in the context menu of the identified item. For example, from the context menu you can:

  • View the feature form
  • Zoom to feature
  • Copy feature: Copy all feature geometry and attributes
  • Toggle feature selection: Adds identified feature to selection
  • Copy attribute value: Copy only the value of the attribute that you click on
  • Copy feature attributes: Copy the attributes of the feature
  • Clear result: Remove results in the window
  • Clear highlights: Remove features highlighted on the map
  • Highlight all
  • Highlight layer
  • Activate layer: Choose a layer to be activated
  • Layer properties: Open layer properties window
  • Expand all
  • Collapse all

Annotation Tools

The textAnnotation Text Annotation tool in the attribute toolbar provides the possibility to place formatted text in a balloon on the QGIS map canvas. Use the Text Annotation tool and click into the map canvas.

Figure annotation 1:


Annotation text dialog

Double clicking on the item opens a dialog with various options. There is the text editor to enter the formatted text and other item settings. For instance, there is the choice of having the item placed on a map position (displayed by a marker symbol) or to have the item on a screen position (not related to the map). The item can be moved by map position (by dragging the map marker) or by moving only the balloon. The icons are part of the GIS theme, and they are used by default in the other themes, too.

The annotation Move Annotation tool allows you to move the annotation on the map canvas.

Html annotations

The formAnnotation Html Annotation tools in the attribute toolbar provides the possibility to place the content of an html file in a balloon on the QGIS map canvas. Using the Html Annotation tool, click into the map canvas and add the path to the html file into the dialog.

SVG annotations

The saveAsSVG SVG Annotation tool in the attribute toolbar provides the possibility to place an SVG symbol in a balloon on the QGIS map canvas. Using the SVG Annotation tool, click into the map canvas and add the path to the SVG file into the dialog.

Form annotations

Additionally, you can also create your own annotation forms. The formAnnotation Form Annotation tool is useful to display attributes of a vector layer in a customized Qt Designer form (see figure_custom_annotation). This is similar to the designer forms for the Identify features tool, but displayed in an annotation item. Also see this video from Tim Sutton for more information.

Figure annotation 2:


Customized qt designer annotation form


If you press Ctrl+T while an Annotation tool is active (move annotation, text annotation, form annotation), the visibility states of the items are inverted.

Spatial Bookmarks

Spatial Bookmarks allow you to “bookmark” a geographic location and return to it later. Bookmarks are saved on the computer, meaning that they are available from any project in the same computer.

Creating a Bookmark

To create a bookmark:

  1. Zoom or pan to the area of interest.
  2. Select the menu option View ‣ New Bookmark or press Ctrl-B. The Spatial Bookmark panel opens with the newly created bookmark.
  3. Enter a descriptive name for the bookmark (up to 255 characters).
  4. Press Enter to add the bookmark or click elsewhere.

Note that you can have multiple bookmarks with the same name.

Working with Bookmarks

To use or manage bookmarks, select the menu option View ‣ Show Bookmarks. The Spatial Bookmarks panel allows you to:

  • Zoom to a Bookmark: select the desired bookmark and then click Zoom To Bookmark. You can also zoom to a bookmark by double-clicking on it.
  • Delete a Bookmark: select the bookmark and click Delete Bookmark. Confirm your choice.
  • Import or Export a bookmark: To share or transfer your bookmarks between computers you can use the Import/Export Bookmarks pull down menu in the Spatial Bookmarks dialog. All the bookmarks are transferred.

Nesting Projects

If you want to embed content from other project files into your project, you can choose Layer ‣ Embed Layers and Groups.

Embedding layers

The following dialog allows you to embed layers from other projects. Here is a small example:

  1. Press browseButton to look for a project from the Alaska dataset.
  2. Select the project file relations.qgs. You can see the content of the project (see figure_embed_dialog).
  3. Press Ctrl and click on the layers airports and regions. Press [OK]. The selected layers are embedded in the map legend and the map view now.

Figure Nesting 1:


Select layers and groups to embed

While the embedded layers are editable, you can’t change their properties like style and labeling.

Removing embedded layers

Right-click on the embedded layer and choose removeLayer Remove.


The Decorations of QGIS include the Grid, the Copyright Label, the North Arrow and the Scale Bar. They are used to ‘decorate’ the map by adding cartographic elements.


transformed Grid allows you to add a coordinate grid and coordinate annotations to the map canvas.

Figure Decorations 1:


The Grid Dialog

  1. Select from menu View ‣ Decorations ‣ Grid. The dialog starts (see figure_decorations_1).
  2. Activate the checkbox Enable grid checkbox and set grid definitions according to the layers loaded in the map canvas.
  3. Activate the checkbox Draw annotations checkbox and set annotation definitions according to the layers loaded in the map canvas.
  4. Click [Apply] to verify that it looks as expected or [OK] if you’re satisfied.

North Arrow

northArrow North Arrow places a simple north arrow on the map canvas. Currently, there is only one style available. You can adjust the angle of the arrow or let QGIS set the direction automatically. If you choose to let QGIS determine the direction, it makes its best guess as to how the arrow should be oriented. For placement of the arrow, you have four options, corresponding to the four corners of the map canvas. You can refine the placement of the arrow by setting a Horizontal and/or Vertical Marging from (Canvas) Edge. These values can be a distance in Millimeter or Pixels or set as Percentage of the width or height of the map canvas.

Figure Decorations 3:


The North Arrow Dialog

Scale Bar

scaleBar Scale Bar adds a simple scale bar to the map canvas. You can control the style and placement, as well as the labelling of the bar.

Figure Decorations 4:


The Scale Bar Dialog

QGIS only supports displaying the scale in the same units as your map frame. So if the units of your layers are in meters, you can’t create a scale bar in feet. Likewise, if you are using decimal degrees, you can’t create a scale bar to display distance in meters.

To add a scale bar:

  1. Select from menu View ‣ Decorations ‣ Scale Bar. The dialog starts (see figure_decorations_4).
  2. Make sure the checkbox Enable scale bar checkbox is checked.
  3. Choose the style from the Scale bar style selectString combo box.
  4. Select the color for the bar Color of bar selectColor or use the default black color.
  5. Set the Size of bar selectNumber.
  6. Optionally, check checkbox Automatically snap to round number on resize to display values easy-to-read.
  7. Choose the placement from the Placement selectString combo box.
  8. You can refine the placement of the item by setting a Horizontal and/or Vertical Marging from (Canvas) Edge. These values can be a distance in Millimeter or Pixels or set as Percentage of the width or height of the map canvas.
  9. Click [Apply] to verify that it looks as expected or [OK] if you’re satisfied.


Settings of Decorations

When you save a .qgs project, any changes you have made to Grid, North Arrow, Scale Bar and Copyright will be saved in the project and restored the next time you load the project.


QGIS has facility to store/retrieve authentication credentials in a secure manner. Users can securely save credentials into authentication configurations, which are stored in a portable database, can be applied to server or database connections, and safely referenced by their ID tokens in project or settings files. For more information see Authentication System.

A master password needs to be set up when initializing the authentication system and its portable database.

Save layer into file

Layers (raster or vector) can be saved in another format with the Save As... feature in the layer contextual menu (by right-clicking in the layer in the layer tree) or in the Layer ‣ Save As... menu.

The Save As dialog shows several parameters to change the behaviour when saving the layer. Common parameters (raster and vector) are:

  • Format
  • Filename
  • CRS
  • Add save file to map to add the new layer to the canvas
  • Extent (possible values are layer, Map view or custom extent)
  • Create (for raster), Layer or Custom (for vector) Options which allow you to change some advanced options. Advanced user can see the driver documentation in gdal-ogr documentation.

However, some parameters are specific to raster and vector formats:

  • Raster specific parameters:
    • Resolution (horizontal and vertical)
    • Pyramid creation
    • Output mode (raw data or rendered image)
  • Vector specific parameters:
    • Encoding
    • Save only selected features
    • Skip attribute creation
    • Symbology export: can be used mainly for DXF export and for all file formats who manage OGR feature styles (see note below) as DXF, KML, tab file formats:
      • No symbology: default style of the application that reads the data
      • Feature symbology: save style with OGR Feature Styles (see note below)
      • Symbol Layer symbology: save with OGR Feature Styles (see note below) but export the same geometry multiple times if there are multiple symbology symbol layers used
    • Geometry:
      • force to multi-geometry,
      • add z-dimension,
      • add or remove a geometry column with the drop-down list. This is not linked with the current geometry type of the layer. You can add an empty geometry column to an attribute table, remove the geometry column of a spatial layer.


OGR Feature Styles are a way to store style directly in the data as a hidden attribute. Only some format can handle this kind of information. KML, DXF and TAB files format are such format. For advanced user, you can read the OGR Feature Styles specification document.


About DXF files

Vector layers can be exported to DXF files using another tool, the DXF Export ... in Project. The windows allow the user to choose the layer file, the symbology mode (see the note above), the symbology scale, the encoding, the visibility preset and the layers to include in the DXF file.

As an option, you can checkbox Use the layer title as name if set or Export features intersecting the current map extent.

Use of variables for dynamic content

You can define custom variables for use in expressions. Variables can be defined at the application global level, project level, layer level and composition level. Just like CSS cascading rules, variables can be overwritten - eg, a project level variable will overwrite any application level variables set. You can use these variables to build text strings or other custom expressions using @ character before the variable name. For example in composer creating a label with this content:

This map was made using QGIS [% @qgis_version %]. The project file for this
map is: [% @project_path %]

Will render the label like this:

This map was made using QGIS 2.14. The project file for this map is:

You can manage global variables from the Settings ‣ Options menu, and project level variables from Project properties (including adding your own custom variables).

Figure Variables dialog 2:


Edit variable at the project level


you can read more information and find examples here Exploring variables in QGIS 2.12, part 1, part 2 and part 3.