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GraphQL Overview

In addition to its REST and Local APIs, Payload ships with a fully featured and extensible GraphQL API.

By default, the GraphQL API is exposed via /api/graphql, but you can customize this URL via specifying your routes within the main Payload config.

The labels you provide for your Collections and Globals are used to name the GraphQL types that are created to correspond to your config. Special characters and spaces are removed.

GraphQL Options

At the top of your Payload config you can define all the options to manage GraphQL. The

mutationsAny custom Mutations to be added in addition to what Payload provides. More
queriesAny custom Queries to be added in addition to what Payload provides. More
maxComplexityA number used to set the maximum allowed complexity allowed by requests More
disablePlaygroundInProductionA boolean that if false will enable the graphQL playground, defaults to true. More
disableA boolean that if true will disable the graphQL entirely, defaults to false.
schemaOutputFileA string for the file path used by the generate schema command. Defaults to graphql.schema next to payload.config.ts More


Everything that can be done to a Collection via the REST or Local API can be done with GraphQL (outside of uploading files, which is REST-only). If you have a collection as follows:

import { CollectionConfig } from 'payload/types';
const PublicUser: CollectionConfig = {
slug: 'public-users',
auth: true, // Auth is enabled
labels: {
singular: 'Public User',
plural: 'Public Users',
fields: [

Payload will automatically open up the following queries:

Query NameOperation
mePublicUserme auth operation

And the following mutations:

Query NameOperation
forgotPasswordPublicUserforgotPassword auth operation
resetPasswordPublicUserresetPassword auth operation
unlockPublicUserunlock auth operation
verifyPublicUserverify auth operation
loginPublicUserlogin auth operation
logoutPublicUserlogout auth operation
refreshTokenPublicUserrefresh auth operation


Globals are also fully supported. For example:

import { GlobalConfig } from 'payload/types';
const Header: GlobalConfig = {
slug: 'header',
fields: [

Payload will open the following query:

Query NameOperation

And the following mutation:

Query NameOperation


User preferences for the admin panel are also available to GraphQL. To query preferences you must supply an authorization token in the header and only the preferences of that user will be accessible and of the key argument.

Payload will open the following query:

Query NameOperation

And the following mutations:

Query NameOperation

GraphQL Playground

GraphQL Playground is enabled by default for development purposes, but disabled in production. You can enable it in production by passing graphQL.disablePlaygroundInProduction a false setting in the main Payload config.

You can even log in using the login[collection-singular-label-here] mutation to use the Playground as an authenticated user.

Query complexity limits

Payload comes with a built-in query complexity limiter to prevent bad people from trying to slow down your server by running massive queries. To learn more, click here.


Adding your own Queries and Mutations