What is python's site-packages directory?


The directory site-packages is mentioned in various Python related articles. What is it? How to use it?

Asked By: Omer Dagan



site-packages is the target directory of manually built Python packages. When you build and install Python packages from source (using distutils, probably by executing python setup.py install), you will find the installed modules in site-packages by default.

There are standard locations:

  • Unix (pure)1: prefix/lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages
  • Unix (non-pure): exec-prefix/lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages
  • Windows: prefixLibsite-packages

1 Pure means that the module uses only Python code. Non-pure can contain C/C++ code as well.

site-packages is by default part of the Python search path, so modules installed there can be imported easily afterwards.

Useful reading

Answered By: Omer Dagan

site-packages is just the location where Python installs its modules.

No need to "find it", python knows where to find it by itself, this location is always part of the PYTHONPATH (sys.path).

Programmatically you can find it this way:

import sys
site_packages = next(p for p in sys.path if 'site-packages' in p)


Answered By: DevLounge

When you use --user option with pip, the package gets installed in user’s folder instead of global folder and you won’t need to run pip command with admin privileges.

The location of user’s packages folder can be found using:

python -m site --user-site

This will print something like:


When you don’t use --user option with pip, the package gets installed in global folder given by:

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

This will print something like:

['C:\Program Files\Anaconda3', 'C:\Program Files\Anaconda3\lib\site-packages'

Note: Above printed values are for On Windows 10 with Anaconda 4.x installed with defaults.

Answered By: Shital Shah

On my CentOS7.9 Linux (a RedHat clone) it is found in ~/.local/lib/python3.9/site-packages/ and there is no need to include it in the PYTHONPATH variable.

Answered By: karsten

According to here:

A Python installation has a site-packages directory inside the module
directory. This directory is where user installed packages are

Though it doesn’t explain why the word site is chosen, it explains what this directory is meant for.

Answered By: smwikipedia
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