Table Of Contents

This Page


Report a compilation problem

See Getting help.

matplotlib compiled fine, but nothing shows up when I use it

The first thing to try is a clean install and see if that helps. If not, the best way to test your install is by running a script, rather than working interactively from a python shell or an integrated development environment such as IDLE which add additional complexities. Open up a UNIX shell or a DOS command prompt and cd into a directory containing a minimal example in a file. Something like for example:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
fig, ax = plt.subplots()

and run it with:

python --verbose-helpful

This will give you additional information about which backends matplotlib is loading, version information, and more. At this point you might want to make sure you understand matplotlib’s configuration process, governed by the matplotlibrc configuration file which contains instructions within and the concept of the matplotlib backend.

If you are still having trouble, see Getting help.

How to completely remove matplotlib

Occasionally, problems with matplotlib can be solved with a clean installation of the package.

The process for removing an installation of matplotlib depends on how matplotlib was originally installed on your system. Follow the steps below that goes with your original installation method to cleanly remove matplotlib from your system.

Source install


python clean

does not properly clean the build directory, and does nothing to the install directory. To cleanly rebuild:

  1. Delete the caches from your .matplotlib configuration directory.
  2. Delete the build directory in the source tree.
  3. Delete any matplotlib directories or eggs from your installation directory.

How to Install

Source install from git

Clone the main source using one of:

git clone


git clone git://

and build and install as usual with:

> cd matplotlib
> python install


If you are on debian/ubuntu, you can get all the dependencies required to build matplotlib with:

sudo apt-get build-dep python-matplotlib

If you are on Fedora/RedHat, you can get all the dependencies required to build matplotlib by first installing yum-builddep and then running:

su -c "yum-builddep python-matplotlib"

This does not build matplotlib, but it does get all of the build dependencies, which will make building from source easier.

If you want to be able to follow the development branch as it changes just replace the last step with (make sure you have setuptools installed):

> python develop

This creates links in the right places and installs the command line script to the appropriate places.


Mac OSX users please see the Building on OSX guide.

Windows users please see the Building on Windows guide.

Then, if you want to update your matplotlib at any time, just do:

> git pull

When you run git pull, if the output shows that only Python files have been updated, you are all set. If C files have changed, you need to run the python develop command again to compile them.

There is more information on using git in the developer docs.

Linux Notes

Because most Linux distributions use some sort of package manager, we do not provide a pre-built binary for the Linux platform. Instead, we recommend that you use the “Add Software” method for your system to install matplotlib. This will guarantee that everything that is needed for matplotlib will be installed as well.

If, for some reason, you can not use the package manager, Linux usually comes with at least a basic build system. Follow the instructions found above for how to build and install matplotlib.

OS-X Notes

Which python for OS X?

Apple ships OS X with its own Python, in /usr/bin/python, and its own copy of matplotlib. Unfortunately, the way Apple currently installs its own copies of numpy, scipy and matplotlib means that these packages are difficult to upgrade (see system python packages). For that reason we strongly suggest that you install a fresh version of Python and use that as the basis for installing libraries such as numpy and matplotlib. One convenient way to install matplotlib with other useful Python software is to use one of the excellent Python scientific software collections that are now available:

These collections include Python itself and a wide range of libraries; if you need a library that is not available from the collection, you can install it yourself using standard methods such as pip. Continuum and Enthought offer their own installation support for these collections; see the Ananconda and Canopy web pages for more information.

Other options for a fresh Python install are the standard installer from, or installing Python using a general OSX package management system such as homebrew or macports. Power users on OSX will likely want one of homebrew or macports on their system to install open source software packages, but it is perfectly possible to use these systems with another source for your Python binary, such as Anaconda, Canopy or Python.

Installing OSX binary wheels

If you are using recent Python from, Macports or Homebrew, then you can use the standard pip installer to install matplotlib binaries in the form of wheels. Python

Install pip following the standard pip install instructions. For the impatient, open a new window and:

curl -O

Then (Python 2.7):


or (Python 3):


You can now install matplotlib and all its dependencies with:

pip install matplotlib


For Python 2.7:

sudo port install py27-pip
sudo pip-2.7 install matplotlib

For Python 3.4:

sudo port install py34-pip
sudo pip-3.4 install matplotlib


For Python 2.7:

pip2 install matplotlib

For Python 3.4:

pip3 install matplotlib

You might also want to install IPython; we recommend you install IPython with the IPython notebook option, like this:

  • Python: pip install ipython[notebook]
  • Macports sudo pip-2.7 install ipython[notebook] or sudo pip-3.4 install ipython[notebook]
  • Homebrew pip2 install ipython[notebook] or pip3 install ipython[notebook]

Pip problems

If you get errors with pip trying to run a compiler like gcc or clang, then the first thing to try is to install xcode and retry the install. If that does not work, then check Getting help.

Installing via OSX mpkg installer package

matplotlib also has a disk image (.dmg) installer, which contains a typical package to install matplotlib. You should use binary wheels instead of the disk image installer if you can, because:

  • wheels work with Python, homebrew and macports, the disk image installer only works with Python.
  • The disk image installer doesn’t check for recent versions of packages that matplotlib depends on, and unconditionally installs the versions of dependencies contained in the disk image installer. This can overwrite packages that you have already installed, which might cause problems for other packages, if you have a pre-existing setup on your computer.

If you still want to use the disk image installer, read on.


Before installing via the disk image installer, be sure that all of the packages were compiled for the same version of python. Often, the download site for NumPy and matplotlib will display a supposed ‘current’ version of the package, but you may need to choose a different package from the full list that was built for your combination of python and OSX.

The disk image installer will have a .dmg extension, and will have a name like matplotlib-1.4.0-py2.7-macosx10.6.dmg. The name of the installer depends on the versions of python and matplotlib it was built for, and the version of OSX that the matching installer was built for. For example, if the mathing Python installer was built for OSX 10.6 or greater, the dmg file will end in -macosx10.6.dmg. You need to download this disk image file, open the disk image file by double clicking, and find the new matplotlib disk image icon on your desktop. Double click on that icon to show the contents of the image. Then double-click on the .mpkg icon, which will have a name like matplotlib-1.4.0-py2.7-macosx10.6.mpkg, it will run the, prompt you for a password if you need system-wide installation privileges, and install to a directory like /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/site-packages (exact path depends on your Python version).

Checking your installation

The new version of matplotlib should now be on your Python “path”. Check this with one of these commands at the command line:

python2.7 -c 'import matplotlib; print matplotlib.__version__, matplotlib.__file__'

(Python 2.7) or:

python3.4 -c 'import matplotlib; print(matplotlib.__version__, matplotlib.__file__)'

(Python 3.4). You should see something like this:

1.4.0 /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/site-packages/matplotlib/__init__.pyc

where 1.4.0 is the matplotlib version you just installed, and the path following depends on whether you are using Python, Homebrew or Macports. If you see another version, or you get an error like this:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<string>", line 1, in <module>
ImportError: No module named matplotlib

then check that the Python binary is the one you expected by doing one of these commands in

which python2.7


which python3.4

If you get the result /usr/bin/python2.7, then you are getting the Python installed with OSX, which is probably not what you want. Try closing and restarting before running the check again. If that doesn’t fix the problem, depending on which Python you wanted to use, consider reinstalling Python, or check your homebrew or macports setup. Remember that the disk image installer only works for Python, and will not get picked up by other Pythons. If all these fail, please let us know: see Getting help.

Windows Notes

See Windows.