In the branch of abstract mathematics called category theory, a projective cover of an object X is in a sense the best approximation of X by a projective object P. Projective covers are the dual of injective envelopes.
Projective covers and their superfluous epimorphisms, when they exist, are unique up to isomorphism. The isomorphism need not be unique, however, since the projective property is not a full fledged universal property.
Unlike injective envelopes and flat covers, which exist for every left (right) R-module regardless of the ring R, left (right) R-modules do not in general have projective covers. A ring R is called left (right) perfect if every left (right) R-module has a projective cover in R-Mod (Mod-R).
A ring is called lift/rad if idempotents lift from R/J to R, where J is the Jacobson radical of R. The property of being lift/rad can be characterized in terms of projective covers: R is lift/rad if and only if direct summands of the R module R/J (as a right or left module) have projective covers.