27.2. ensurepip — Bootstrapping the pip installer

New in version 2.7.9.

The ensurepip package provides support for bootstrapping the pip installer into an existing Python installation or virtual environment. This bootstrapping approach reflects the fact that pip is an independent project with its own release cycle, and the latest available stable version is bundled with maintenance and feature releases of the CPython reference interpreter.

In most cases, end users of Python shouldn’t need to invoke this module directly (as pip should be bootstrapped by default), but it may be needed if installing pip was skipped when installing Python (or when creating a virtual environment) or after explicitly uninstalling pip.


This module does not access the internet. All of the components needed to bootstrap pip are included as internal parts of the package.

See also

Installing Python Modules
The end user guide for installing Python packages
PEP 453: Explicit bootstrapping of pip in Python installations
The original rationale and specification for this module.
PEP 477: Backport ensurepip (PEP 453) to Python 2.7
The rationale and specification for backporting PEP 453 to Python 2.7.

27.2.1. Command line interface

The command line interface is invoked using the interpreter’s -m switch.

The simplest possible invocation is:

python -m ensurepip

This invocation will install pip if it is not already installed, but otherwise does nothing. To ensure the installed version of pip is at least as recent as the one bundled with ensurepip, pass the --upgrade option:

python -m ensurepip --upgrade

By default, pip is installed into the current virtual environment (if one is active) or into the system site packages (if there is no active virtual environment). The installation location can be controlled through two additional command line options:

  • --root <dir>: Installs pip relative to the given root directory rather than the root of the currently active virtual environment (if any) or the default root for the current Python installation.
  • --user: Installs pip into the user site packages directory rather than globally for the current Python installation (this option is not permitted inside an active virtual environment).

By default, the scripts pip, pipX, and pipX.Y will be installed (where X.Y stands for the version of Python used to invoke ensurepip). The scripts installed can be controlled through two additional command line options:

  • --altinstall: if an alternate installation is requested, the pip and pipX script will not be installed.
  • --no-default-pip: if a non-default installation is request, the pip script will not be installed.

27.2.2. Module API

ensurepip exposes two functions for programmatic use:


Returns a string specifying the bundled version of pip that will be installed when bootstrapping an environment.

ensurepip.bootstrap(root=None, upgrade=False, user=False, altinstall=False, default_pip=True, verbosity=0)

Bootstraps pip into the current or designated environment.

root specifies an alternative root directory to install relative to. If root is None, then installation uses the default install location for the current environment.

upgrade indicates whether or not to upgrade an existing installation of an earlier version of pip to the bundled version.

user indicates whether to use the user scheme rather than installing globally.

By default, the scripts pip, pipX, and pipX.Y will be installed (where X.Y stands for the current version of Python).

If altinstall is set, then pip and pipX will not be installed.

If default_pip is set to False, then pip will not be installed.

Setting both altinstall and default_pip will trigger ValueError.

verbosity controls the level of output to sys.stdout from the bootstrapping operation.


The bootstrapping process has side effects on both sys.path and os.environ. Invoking the command line interface in a subprocess instead allows these side effects to be avoided.


The bootstrapping process may install additional modules required by pip, but other software should not assume those dependencies will always be present by default (as the dependencies may be removed in a future version of pip).