You are reading an old version of the documentation (v2.0.1). For the latest version see


Table Of Contents

This Page


There are many different ways to install matplotlib, and the best way depends on what operating system you are using, what you already have installed, and how you want to use it. To avoid wading through all the details (and potential complications) on this page, there are several convenient options.

Installing pre-built packages

Most platforms : scientific Python distributions

The first option is to use one of the pre-packaged python distributions that already provide matplotlib built-in. The Python distribution (Anaconda or miniconda) and the Enthought distribution (Canopy) are both excellent choices that “just work” out of the box for Windows, OSX and common Linux platforms. Both of these distributions include matplotlib and lots of other useful tools.

Linux : using your package manager

If you are on Linux, you might prefer to use your package manager. matplotlib is packaged for almost every major Linux distribution.

  • Debian / Ubuntu : sudo apt-get install python-matplotlib
  • Fedora / Redhat : sudo yum install python-matplotlib

Mac OSX : using pip

If you are on Mac OSX you can probably install matplotlib binaries using the standard Python installation program pip. See Installing OSX binary wheels.


If you don’t already have Python installed, we recommend using one of the scipy-stack compatible Python distributions such as WinPython, Python(x,y), Enthought Canopy, or Continuum Anaconda, which have matplotlib and many of its dependencies, plus other useful packages, preinstalled.

For standard Python installations, install matplotlib using pip:

python -m pip install -U pip setuptools
python -m pip install matplotlib

In case Python 2.7 or 3.4 are not installed for all users, the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 (64 bit or 32 bit for Python 2.7) or Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 (64 bit or 32 bit for Python 3.4) redistributable packages need to be installed.

Matplotlib depends on Pillow for reading and saving JPEG, BMP, and TIFF image files. Matplotlib requires MiKTeX and GhostScript for rendering text with LaTeX. FFmpeg, avconv, mencoder, or ImageMagick are required for the animation module.

The following backends should work out of the box: agg, tkagg, ps, pdf and svg. For other backends you may need to install pycairo, PyQt4, PyQt5, PySide, wxPython, PyGTK, Tornado, or GhostScript.

TkAgg is probably the best backend for interactive use from the standard Python shell or IPython. It is enabled as the default backend for the official binaries. GTK3 is not supported on Windows.

The Windows wheels (*.whl) on the PyPI download page do not contain test data or example code. If you want to try the many demos that come in the matplotlib source distribution, download the *.tar.gz file and look in the examples subdirectory. To run the test suite, copy the lib\matplotlib\tests and lib\mpl_toolkits\tests directories from the source distribution to sys.prefix\Lib\site-packages\matplotlib and sys.prefix\Lib\site-packages\mpl_toolkits respectively, and install nose, mock, Pillow, MiKTeX, GhostScript, ffmpeg, avconv, mencoder, ImageMagick, and Inkscape.

Installing from source

If you are interested in contributing to matplotlib development, running the latest source code, or just like to build everything yourself, it is not difficult to build matplotlib from source. Grab the latest tar.gz release file from the PyPI files page, or if you want to develop matplotlib or just need the latest bugfixed version, grab the latest git version Source install from git.

The standard environment variables CC, CXX, PKG_CONFIG are respected. This means you can set them if your toolchain is prefixed. This may be used for cross compiling.

export CC=x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-gcc
export CXX=x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-g++
export PKG_CONFIG=x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-pkg-config

Once you have satisfied the requirements detailed below (mainly python, numpy, libpng and freetype), you can build matplotlib.

cd matplotlib
python build
python install

We provide a setup.cfg file that goes with which you can use to customize the build process. For example, which default backend to use, whether some of the optional libraries that matplotlib ships with are installed, and so on. This file will be particularly useful to those packaging matplotlib.

If you have installed prerequisites to nonstandard places and need to inform matplotlib where they are, edit and add the base dirs to the basedir dictionary entry for your sys.platform. e.g., if the header to some required library is in /some/path/include/someheader.h, put /some/path in the basedir list for your platform.

Build requirements

These are external packages which you will need to install before installing matplotlib. If you are building on OSX, see Building on OSX. If you are building on Windows, see Building on Windows. If you are installing dependencies with a package manager on Linux, you may need to install the development packages (look for a “-dev” postfix) in addition to the libraries themselves.

Required Dependencies

python 2.7, 3.4, 3.5 or 3.6
Download python.
numpy 1.7.1 (or later)
array support for python (download numpy)
Setuptools provides extensions for python package installation.
dateutil 1.1 or later
Provides extensions to python datetime handling. If using pip, easy_install or installing from source, the installer will attempt to download and install python_dateutil from PyPI.
Required for matplotlib’s mathtext math rendering support. If using pip, easy_install or installing from source, the installer will attempt to download and install pyparsing from PyPI.
libpng 1.2 (or later)
library for loading and saving PNG files (download). libpng requires zlib.
Used to manipulate time-zone aware datetimes.
FreeType 2.3 or later
Library for reading true type font files. If using pip, easy_install or installing from source, the installer will attempt to locate FreeType in expected locations. If it cannot, try installing pkg-config, a tool used to find required non-python libraries.
cycler 0.10.0 or later
Composable cycle class used for constructing style-cycles
Required for compatibility between python 2 and python 3

Dependencies for python 2

Required for compatibility if running on Python 2.7.
Optional, unix only. Backport of the subprocess standard library from 3.2+ for Python 2.7. It provides better error messages and timeout support.

Optional GUI framework

These are optional packages which you may want to install to use matplotlib with a user interface toolkit. See What is a backend? for more details on the optional matplotlib backends and the capabilities they provide.

tk 8.3 or later, not 8.6.0 or 8.6.1

The TCL/Tk widgets library used by the TkAgg backend.

Versions 8.6.0 and 8.6.1 are known to have issues that may result in segfaults when closing multiple windows in the wrong order.

pyqt 4.4 or later
The Qt4 widgets library python wrappers for the Qt4Agg backend
pygtk 2.4 or later
The python wrappers for the GTK widgets library for use with the GTK or GTKAgg backend
wxpython 2.8 or later
The python wrappers for the wx widgets library for use with the WX or WXAgg backend

Optional external programs

ffmpeg/avconv or mencoder
Required for the animation module to be save out put to movie formats.
Required for the animation module to be able to save to animated gif.

Optional dependencies

If Pillow is installed, matplotlib can read and write a larger selection of image file formats.
A tool used to find required non-python libraries. This is not strictly required, but can make installation go more smoothly if the libraries and headers are not in the expected locations.

Required libraries that ship with matplotlib

agg 2.4
The antigrain C++ rendering engine. matplotlib links against the agg template source statically, so it will not affect anything on your system outside of matplotlib.
qhull 2012.1
A library for computing Delaunay triangulations.
truetype font utility

Building on Linux

It is easiest to use your system package manager to install the dependencies.

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 the install the build dependencies, which will make building from source easier.

Building on OSX

The build situation on OSX is complicated by the various places one can get the libpng and freetype requirements (darwinports, fink, /usr/X11R6) and the different architectures (e.g., x86, ppc, universal) and the different OSX version (e.g., 10.4 and 10.5). We recommend that you build the way we do for the OSX release: get the source from the tarball or the git repository and follow the instruction in README.osx.

Building on Windows

The Python shipped from is compiled with Visual Studio 2008 for versions before 3.3, Visual Studio 2010 for 3.3 and 3.4, and Visual Studio 2015 for 3.5 and 3.6. Python extensions are recommended to be compiled with the same compiler.

Since there is no canonical Windows package manager, the methods for building freetype, zlib, and libpng from source code are documented as a build script at matplotlib-winbuild.