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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 run, for example:

python -c "from pylab import *; plot(); show()" --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. In order to fully remove an installed Matplotlib:

  1. Delete the caches from your Matplotlib configuration directory.
  2. Delete any Matplotlib directories or eggs from your installation directory.

Linux Notes

To install Matplotlib at the system-level, we recommend that you use your distribution's package manager. This will guarantee that Matplotlib's dependencies will be installed as well.

If, for some reason, you cannot use the package manager, you may use the wheels available on PyPI:

python -mpip install matplotlib

or build Matplotlib from source.

OSX Notes

Which python for OSX?

Apple ships OSX 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):


or (Python 3):


You can now install matplotlib and all its dependencies with

python -mpip install matplotlib


python3 -mpip install matplotlib

Macports Python

For Python 2:

sudo port install py27-pip
sudo python2 -mpip install matplotlib

For Python 3:

sudo port install py36-pip
sudo python3.6 -mpip install matplotlib

Homebrew Python

For Python 2:

python2 -mpip install matplotlib

For Python 3:

python3 -mpip install matplotlib

You might also want to install IPython or the Jupyter notebook (pythonX -mpip install ipython, pythonX -mpip install notebook, where pythonX is set as above).

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.

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

(Python 2) or:

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

(Python 3). You should see something like this:

2.1.0 /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.6/lib/python3.6/site-packages/matplotlib/__init__.pyc

where 2.1.0 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


which python3

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.

Windows Notes

See Windows.

Install from source

Clone the main source using one of:

git clone


git clone git://

and build and install as usual with:

cd matplotlib
python -mpip 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:

python -mpip install -e .

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


OSX users please see the Building on macOS 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 pip install -e . again to compile them.

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