How do I find the location of my Python site-packages directory?


How do I find the location of my site-packages directory?

Asked By: Daryl Spitzer



A solution that:

  • outside of virtualenv – provides the path of global site-packages,
  • insidue a virtualenv – provides the virtualenv’s site-packages

…is this one-liner:

python -c "from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib; print(get_python_lib())"

Formatted for readability (rather than use as a one-liner), that looks like the following:

from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib

Source: an very old version of “How to Install Django” documentation (though this is useful to more than just Django installation)

Answered By: Daryl Spitzer
from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib
print get_python_lib()
Answered By: Florian Bösch

As others have noted, distutils.sysconfig has the relevant settings:

import distutils.sysconfig
print distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib()

…though the default does something a bit more crude, paraphrased below:

import sys, os
print os.sep.join([sys.prefix, 'lib', 'python' + sys.version[:3], 'site-packages'])

(it also adds ${sys.prefix}/lib/site-python and adds both paths for sys.exec_prefix as well, should that constant be different).

That said, what’s the context? You shouldn’t be messing with your site-packages directly; setuptools/distutils will work for installation, and your program may be running in a virtualenv where your pythonpath is completely user-local, so it shouldn’t assume use of the system site-packages directly either.

Answered By: Charles Duffy

An additional note to the get_python_lib function mentioned already: on some platforms different directories are used for platform specific modules (eg: modules that require compilation). If you pass plat_specific=True to the function you get the site packages for platform specific packages.

Answered By: Armin Ronacher

A side-note: The proposed solution (distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib()) does not work when there is more than one site-packages directory (as recommended by this article). It will only return the main site-packages directory.

Alas, I have no better solution either. Python doesn’t seem to keep track of site-packages directories, just the packages within them.

Answered By: user147100

For Ubuntu,

python -c "from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib; print get_python_lib()"

…is not correct.

It will point you to /usr/lib/pythonX.X/dist-packages

This folder only contains packages your operating system has automatically installed for programs to run.

On ubuntu, the site-packages folder that contains packages installed via setup_toolseasy_installpip will be in /usr/local/lib/pythonX.X/dist-packages

The second folder is probably the more useful one if the use case is related to installation or reading source code.

If you do not use Ubuntu, you are probably safe copy-pasting the first code box into the terminal.

Answered By: David Hollander

Let’s say you have installed the package ‘django’. import it and type in dir(django). It will show you, all the functions and attributes with that module. Type in the python interpreter –

>>> import django
>>> dir(django)
['VERSION', '__builtins__', '__doc__', '__file__', '__name__', '__package__', '__path__', 'get_version']
>>> print django.__path__

You can do the same thing if you have installed mercurial.

This is for Snow Leopard. But I think it should work in general as well.

Answered By: Sumod

All the answers (or: the same answer repeated over and over) are inadequate. What you want to do is this:

from setuptools.command.easy_install import easy_install
class easy_install_default(easy_install):
  """ class easy_install had problems with the fist parameter not being
      an instance of Distribution, even though it was. This is due to
      some import-related mess.

  def __init__(self):
    from distutils.dist import Distribution
    dist = Distribution()
    self.distribution = dist
    self._dry_run = None
    self.verbose = dist.verbose
    self.force = None = 0
    self.finalized = 0

e = easy_install_default()
import distutils.errors
except distutils.errors.DistutilsError:

print e.install_dir

The final line shows you the installation dir. Works on Ubuntu, whereas the above ones don’t. Don’t ask me about windows or other dists, but since it’s the exact same dir that easy_install uses by default, it’s probably correct everywhere where easy_install works (so, everywhere, even macs). Have fun. Note: original code has many swearwords in it.

Answered By: cheater

This works for me.
It will get you both dist-packages and site-packages folders.
If the folder is not on Python’s path, it won’t be
doing you much good anyway.

import sys; 
print [f for f in sys.path if f.endswith('packages')]

Output (Ubuntu installation):

Answered By: just_an_old_guy

This is what worked for me:

python -m site --user-site
Answered By: Ramashri
>>> import site; site.getsitepackages()
['/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages', '/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages']

(or just first item with site.getsitepackages()[0])

Answered By: eudoxos

The native system packages installed with python installation in Debian based systems can be found at :


In OSX – /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages

by using this small code :

from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib
print get_python_lib()

However, the list of packages installed via pip can be found at :


Or one can simply write the following command to list all paths where python packages are.

>>> import site; site.getsitepackages()
['/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages', '/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages']

Note: the location might vary based on your OS, like in OSX

>>> import site; site.getsitepackages()
['/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/site-packages', '/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/site-python', '/Library/Python/2.7/site-packages']
Answered By: fnatic_shank

This should work on all distributions in and out of virtual environment due to it’s “low-tech” nature. The os module always resides in the parent directory of ‘site-packages’

import os; print(os.path.dirname(os.__file__) + '/site-packages')

To change dir to the site-packages dir I use the following alias (on *nix systems):

alias cdsp='cd $(python -c "import os; print(os.path.dirname(os.__file__))"); cd site-packages'
Answered By: Pyramid Newbie

Answer to old question. But use ipython for this.

pip install ipython
import imaplib

This will give the following output about imaplib package –

Type:        module
String form: <module 'imaplib' from '/usr/lib/python2.7/'>
File:        /usr/lib/python2.7/
IMAP4 client.

Based on RFC 2060.

Public class:           IMAP4
Public variable:        Debug
Public functions:       Internaldate2tuple
Answered By: Sahil Agarwal

There are two types of site-packages directories, global and per user.

  1. Global site-packages ("dist-packages") directories are listed in sys.path when you run:

     python -m site

    For a more concise list run getsitepackages from the site module in Python code:

     python -c 'import site; print(site.getsitepackages())'

    Caution: In virtual environments getsitepackages is not available with older versions of virtualenv, sys.path from above will list the virtualenv’s site-packages directory correctly, though. In Python 3, you may use the sysconfig module instead:

     python3 -c 'import sysconfig; print(sysconfig.get_paths()["purelib"])'
  2. The per user site-packages directory (PEP 370) is where Python installs your local packages:

     python -m site --user-site

    If this points to a non-existing directory check the exit status of Python and see python -m site --help for explanations.

    Hint: Running pip list --user or pip freeze --user gives you a list of all installed per user site-packages.

Practical Tips

  • <package>.__path__ lets you identify the location(s) of a specific package: (details)

      $ python -c "import setuptools as _; print(_.__path__)"
  • <module>.__file__ lets you identify the location of a specific module: (difference)

      $ python3 -c "import os as _; print(_.__file__)"
  • Run pip show <package> to show Debian-style package information:

      $ pip show pytest
      Name: pytest
      Version: 3.8.2
      Summary: pytest: simple powerful testing with Python
      Author: Holger Krekel, Bruno Oliveira, Ronny Pfannschmidt, Floris Bruynooghe, Brianna Laugher, Florian Bruhin and others
      Author-email: None
      License: MIT license
      Location: /home/peter/.local/lib/python3.4/site-packages
      Requires: more-itertools, atomicwrites, setuptools, attrs, pathlib2, six, py, pluggy
Answered By: Peterino

I had to do something slightly different for a project I was working on: find the relative site-packages directory relative to the base install prefix. If the site-packages folder was in /usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages, I wanted the /lib/python2.7/site-packages part. I have, in fact, encountered systems where site-packages was in /usr/lib64, and the accepted answer did NOT work on those systems.

Similar to cheater’s answer, my solution peeks deep into the guts of Distutils, to find the path that actually gets passed around inside It was such a pain to figure out that I don’t want anyone to ever have to figure this out again.

import sys
import os
from distutils.command.install import INSTALL_SCHEMES

if == 'nt':
    scheme_key = 'nt'
    scheme_key = 'unix_prefix'

print(INSTALL_SCHEMES[scheme_key]['purelib'].replace('$py_version_short', (str.split(sys.version))[0][0:3]).replace('$base', ''))

That should print something like /Lib/site-packages or /lib/python3.6/site-packages.

Answered By: MultipleMonomials

A modern stdlib way is using sysconfig module, available in version 2.7 and 3.2+. Unlike the current accepted answer, this method still works regardless of whether or not you have a virtual environment active.

Note: sysconfig (source) is not to be confused with the distutils.sysconfig submodule (source) mentioned in several other answers here. The latter is an entirely different module and it’s lacking the get_paths function discussed below. Additionally, distutils is deprecated in 3.10 and will be unavailable soon.

Python currently uses eight paths (docs):

  • stdlib: directory containing the standard Python library files that are not platform-specific.
  • platstdlib: directory containing the standard Python library files that are platform-specific.
  • platlib: directory for site-specific, platform-specific files.
  • purelib: directory for site-specific, non-platform-specific files.
  • include: directory for non-platform-specific header files.
  • platinclude: directory for platform-specific header files.
  • scripts: directory for script files.
  • data: directory for data files.

In most cases, users finding this question would be interested in the ‘purelib’ path (in some cases, you might be interested in ‘platlib’ too). The purelib path is where ordinary Python packages will be installed by tools like pip.

At system level, you’ll see something like this:

# Linux
$ python3 -c "import sysconfig; print(sysconfig.get_path('purelib'))"

# macOS (brew installed python3.8)
$ python3 -c "import sysconfig; print(sysconfig.get_path('purelib'))"
/usr/local/Cellar/[email protected]/3.8.3/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.8/lib/python3.8/site-packages

# Windows
C:> py -c "import sysconfig; print(sysconfig.get_path('purelib'))"

With a venv, you’ll get something like this

# Linux

# macOS

# Windows

The function sysconfig.get_paths() returns a dict of all of the relevant installation paths, example on Linux:

>>> import sysconfig
>>> sysconfig.get_paths()
{'stdlib': '/usr/local/lib/python3.8',
 'platstdlib': '/usr/local/lib/python3.8',
 'purelib': '/usr/local/lib/python3.8/site-packages',
 'platlib': '/usr/local/lib/python3.8/site-packages',
 'include': '/usr/local/include/python3.8',
 'platinclude': '/usr/local/include/python3.8',
 'scripts': '/usr/local/bin',
 'data': '/usr/local'}

A shell script is also available to display these details, which you can invoke by executing sysconfig as a module:

python -m sysconfig

Addendum: What about Debian / Ubuntu?

As some commenters point out, the sysconfig results for Debian systems (and Ubuntu, as a derivative) are not accurate. When a user pip installs a package it will go into dist-packages not site-packages, as per Debian policies on Python packaging.

The root cause of the discrepancy is because Debian patch the distutils install layout, to correctly reflect their changes to the site, but they fail to patch the sysconfig module.

For example, on Ubuntu 20.04.4 LTS (Focal Fossa):

root@cb5e85f17c7f:/# python3 -m sysconfig | grep packages
    platlib = "/usr/lib/python3.8/site-packages"
    purelib = "/usr/lib/python3.8/site-packages"

root@cb5e85f17c7f:/# python3 -m site | grep packages
USER_SITE: '/root/.local/lib/python3.8/site-packages' (doesn't exist)

It looks like the patched Python installation that Debian/Ubuntu are distributing is a bit hacked up, and they will need to figure out a new plan for 3.12+ when distutils is completely unavailable. Probably, they will have to start patching sysconfig as well, since this is what pip will be using for install locations.

Answered By: wim

pip show will give all the details about a package: [pip show][1]

To get the location:

pip show <package_name>| grep Location

In Linux, you can go to site-packages folder by:

cd $(python -c "import site; print(site.getsitepackages()[0])")
Answered By: Sourabh Potnis

You should try this command to determine pip’s install location

Python 2

pip show six | grep "Location:" | cut -d " " -f2

Python 3

pip3 show six | grep "Location:" | cut -d " " -f2
Answered By: user5683940

Something that has not been mentioned which I believe is useful, if you have two versions of Python installed e.g. both 3.8 and 3.5 there might be two folders called site-packages on your machine. In that case you can specify the python version by using the following:

py -3.5 -c "import site; print(site.getsitepackages()[1])
Answered By: Stamatis Tiniakos

For those who are using poetry, you can find your virtual environment path with poetry debug:

$ poetry debug

Version: 1.1.4
Python:  3.8.2

Python:         3.8.2
Implementation: CPython
Path:           /Users/cglacet/.pyenv/versions/3.8.2/envs/my-virtualenv
Valid:          True

Platform: darwin
OS:       posix
Python:   /Users/cglacet/.pyenv/versions/3.8.2

Using this information you can list site packages:

ls /Users/cglacet/.pyenv/versions/3.8.2/envs/my-virtualenv/lib/python3.8/site-packages/
Answered By: cglacet

I made a really simple function that gets the job done

import site

def get_site_packages_dir():
        return [p for p  in site.getsitepackages()
                if p.endswith(("site-packages", "dist-packages"))][0]

# '/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/lib/python3.9/site-packages'

If you want to retrieve the results using the terminal:

python3 -c "import site;print([p for p in site.getsitepackages() if p.endswith(('site-packages', 'dist-packages')) ][0])"


Answered By: Angel
Categories: questions Tags: ,
Answers are sorted by their score. The answer accepted by the question owner as the best is marked with
at the top-right corner.