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 *; set_loglevel('debug'); plot(); show()"

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 the Anaconda Python scientific software collection, which includes 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. See the Ananconda web page for installation support.

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 or Python.

Installing OSX binary wheels

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

pip is installed by default with and Homebrew Python, but needs to be manually installed on Macports with

sudo port install py36-pip

Once pip is installed, you can install Matplotlib and all its dependencies with from the command line:

python3 -mpip install matplotlib

(sudo python3.6 ... on Macports).

You might also want to install IPython or the Jupyter notebook (python3 -mpip install ipython notebook).

Checking your installation

The new version of Matplotlib should now be on your Python "path". Check this at the command line:

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

You should see something like

3.0.0 /Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.6/lib/python3.6/site-packages/matplotlib/

where 3.0.0 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

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 running

which python3

If you get a result like /usr/bin/python..., 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.

Install from source

A C compiler is required. Typically, on Linux, you will need gcc, which should be installed using your distribution's package manager; on macOS, you will need xcode; on Windows, you will need Visual Studio 2015 or later.

Clone the main source using one of:

git clone


git clone git://

and build and install with:

cd matplotlib
python -mpip install .

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.

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.