New in version 3.3.
Source code: Lib/venv/
venv module supports creating lightweight “virtual environments”,
each with their own independent set of Python packages installed in
A virtual environment is created on top of an existing
Python installation, known as the virtual environment’s “base” Python, and may
optionally be isolated from the packages in the base environment,
so only those explicitly installed in the virtual environment are available.
When used from within a virtual environment, common installation tools such as pip will install Python packages into a virtual environment without needing to be told to do so explicitly.
A virtual environment is (amongst other things):
Used to contain a specific Python interpreter and software libraries and binaries which are needed to support a project (library or application). These are by default isolated from software in other virtual environments and Python interpreters and libraries installed in the operating system.
Contained in a directory, conventionally either named
.venvin the project directory, or under a container directory for lots of virtual environments, such as
Not checked into source control systems such as Git.
Considered as disposable – it should be simple to delete and recreate it from scratch. You don’t place any project code in the environment
Not considered as movable or copyable – you just recreate the same environment in the target location.
See PEP 405 for more background on Python virtual environments.
Availability: not Emscripten, not WASI.
This module does not work or is not available on WebAssembly platforms
WebAssembly platforms for more information.
Creating virtual environments¶
Creation of virtual environments is done by executing the
python -m venv /path/to/new/virtual/environment
Running this command creates the target directory (creating any parent
directories that don’t exist already) and places a
pyvenv.cfg file in it
home key pointing to the Python installation from which the command
was run (a common name for the target directory is
.venv). It also creates
Scripts on Windows) subdirectory containing a copy/symlink
of the Python binary/binaries (as appropriate for the platform or arguments
used at environment creation time). It also creates an (initially empty)
lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages subdirectory (on Windows, this is
Lib\site-packages). If an existing directory is specified, it will be
Deprecated since version 3.6:
pyvenv was the recommended tool for creating virtual environments for
Python 3.3 and 3.4, and is
deprecated in Python 3.6.
Changed in version 3.5: The use of
venv is now recommended for creating virtual environments.
On Windows, invoke the
venv command as follows:
c:\>Python35\python -m venv c:\path\to\myenv
Alternatively, if you configured the
PATHEXT variables for
your Python installation:
c:\>python -m venv c:\path\to\myenv
The command, if run with
-h, will show the available options:
usage: venv [-h] [--system-site-packages] [--symlinks | --copies] [--clear] [--upgrade] [--without-pip] [--prompt PROMPT] [--upgrade-deps] ENV_DIR [ENV_DIR ...] Creates virtual Python environments in one or more target directories. positional arguments: ENV_DIR A directory to create the environment in. optional arguments: -h, --help show this help message and exit --system-site-packages Give the virtual environment access to the system site-packages dir. --symlinks Try to use symlinks rather than copies, when symlinks are not the default for the platform. --copies Try to use copies rather than symlinks, even when symlinks are the default for the platform. --clear Delete the contents of the environment directory if it already exists, before environment creation. --upgrade Upgrade the environment directory to use this version of Python, assuming Python has been upgraded in-place. --without-pip Skips installing or upgrading pip in the virtual environment (pip is bootstrapped by default) --prompt PROMPT Provides an alternative prompt prefix for this environment. --upgrade-deps Upgrade core dependencies (pip) to the latest version in PyPI Once an environment has been created, you may wish to activate it, e.g. by sourcing an activate script in its bin directory.
Changed in version 3.12:
setuptools is no longer a core venv dependency.
Changed in version 3.9: Add
--upgrade-deps option to upgrade pip + setuptools to the latest on PyPI
Changed in version 3.4: Installs pip by default, added the
Changed in version 3.4: In earlier versions, if the target directory already existed, an error was
raised, unless the
--upgrade option was provided.
While symlinks are supported on Windows, they are not recommended. Of
particular note is that double-clicking
python.exe in File Explorer
will resolve the symlink eagerly and ignore the virtual environment.
On Microsoft Windows, it may be required to enable the
script by setting the execution policy for the user. You can do this by
issuing the following PowerShell command:
PS C:> Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope CurrentUser
See About Execution Policies for more information.
pyvenv.cfg file also includes the
include-system-site-packages key, set to
run with the
--without-pip option is given,
ensurepip will be
invoked to bootstrap
pip into the virtual environment.
Multiple paths can be given to
venv, in which case an identical virtual
environment will be created, according to the given options, at each provided
How venvs work¶
When a Python interpreter is running from a virtual environment,
point to the directories of the virtual environment,
point to those of the base Python used to create the environment.
It is sufficient to check
sys.prefix != sys.base_prefix to determine if the current interpreter is
running from a virtual environment.
A virtual environment may be “activated” using a script in its binary directory
bin on POSIX;
Scripts on Windows).
This will prepend that directory to your
PATH, so that running
python will invoke the environment’s Python interpreter
and you can run installed scripts without having to use their full path.
The invocation of the activation script is platform-specific
<venv> must be replaced by the path to the directory
containing the virtual environment):
Command to activate virtual environment
New in version 3.4: fish and csh activation scripts.
New in version 3.8: PowerShell activation scripts installed under POSIX for PowerShell Core support.
You don’t specifically need to activate a virtual environment, as you can just specify the full path to that environment’s Python interpreter when invoking Python. Furthermore, all scripts installed in the environment should be runnable without activating it.
In order to achieve this, scripts installed into virtual environments have
a “shebang” line which points to the environment’s Python interpreter,
This means that the script will run with that interpreter regardless of the
PATH. On Windows, “shebang” line processing is supported if
you have the Python Launcher for Windows installed. Thus, double-clicking an installed
script in a Windows Explorer window should run it with the correct interpreter
without the environment needing to be activated or on the
When a virtual environment has been activated, the
environment variable is set to the path of the environment.
Since explicitly activating a virtual environment is not required to use it,
VIRTUAL_ENV cannot be relied upon to determine
whether a virtual environment is being used.
Because scripts installed in environments should not expect the
environment to be activated, their shebang lines contain the absolute paths
to their environment’s interpreters. Because of this, environments are
inherently non-portable, in the general case. You should always have a
simple means of recreating an environment (for example, if you have a
requirements.txt, you can invoke
pip install -r
requirements.txt using the environment’s
pip to install all of the
packages needed by the environment). If for any reason you need to move the
environment to a new location, you should recreate it at the desired
location and delete the one at the old location. If you move an environment
because you moved a parent directory of it, you should recreate the
environment in its new location. Otherwise, software installed into the
environment may not work as expected.
You can deactivate a virtual environment by typing
deactivate in your shell.
The exact mechanism is platform-specific and is an internal implementation
detail (typically, a script or shell function will be used).
The high-level method described above makes use of a simple API which provides
mechanisms for third-party virtual environment creators to customize environment
creation according to their needs, the
- class venv.EnvBuilder(system_site_packages=False, clear=False, symlinks=False, upgrade=False, with_pip=False, prompt=None, upgrade_deps=False)¶
EnvBuilderclass accepts the following keyword arguments on instantiation:
system_site_packages– a Boolean value indicating that the system Python site-packages should be available to the environment (defaults to
clear– a Boolean value which, if true, will delete the contents of any existing target directory, before creating the environment.
symlinks– a Boolean value indicating whether to attempt to symlink the Python binary rather than copying.
upgrade– a Boolean value which, if true, will upgrade an existing environment with the running Python - for use when that Python has been upgraded in-place (defaults to
with_pip– a Boolean value which, if true, ensures pip is installed in the virtual environment. This uses
prompt– a String to be used after virtual environment is activated (defaults to
Nonewhich means directory name of the environment would be used). If the special string
"."is provided, the basename of the current directory is used as the prompt.
upgrade_deps– Update the base venv modules to the latest on PyPI
Changed in version 3.4: Added the
New in version 3.6: Added the
New in version 3.9: Added the
Creators of third-party virtual environment tools will be free to use the provided
EnvBuilderclass as a base class.
The returned env-builder is an object which has a method,
Create a virtual environment by specifying the target directory (absolute or relative to the current directory) which is to contain the virtual environment. The
createmethod will either create the environment in the specified directory, or raise an appropriate exception.
createmethod of the
EnvBuilderclass illustrates the hooks available for subclass customization:
def create(self, env_dir): """ Create a virtualized Python environment in a directory. env_dir is the target directory to create an environment in. """ env_dir = os.path.abspath(env_dir) context = self.ensure_directories(env_dir) self.create_configuration(context) self.setup_python(context) self.setup_scripts(context) self.post_setup(context)
Creates the environment directory and all necessary subdirectories that don’t already exist, and returns a context object. This context object is just a holder for attributes (such as paths) for use by the other methods. If the
EnvBuilderis created with the arg
clear=True, contents of the environment directory will be cleared and then all necessary subdirectories will be recreated.
The returned context object is a
types.SimpleNamespacewith the following attributes:
env_dir- The location of the virtual environment. Used for
__VENV_DIR__in activation scripts (see
env_name- The name of the virtual environment. Used for
__VENV_NAME__in activation scripts (see
prompt- The prompt to be used by the activation scripts. Used for
__VENV_PROMPT__in activation scripts (see
executable- The underlying Python executable used by the virtual environment. This takes into account the case where a virtual environment is created from another virtual environment.
inc_path- The include path for the virtual environment.
lib_path- The purelib path for the virtual environment.
bin_path- The script path for the virtual environment.
bin_name- The name of the script path relative to the virtual environment location. Used for
__VENV_BIN_NAME__in activation scripts (see
env_exe- The name of the Python interpreter in the virtual environment. Used for
__VENV_PYTHON__in activation scripts (see
env_exec_cmd- The name of the Python interpreter, taking into account filesystem redirections. This can be used to run Python in the virtual environment.
Changed in version 3.12: The attribute
lib_pathwas added to the context, and the context object was documented.
Changed in version 3.11: The venv sysconfig installation scheme is used to construct the paths of the created directories.
pyvenv.cfgconfiguration file in the environment.
Creates a copy or symlink to the Python executable in the environment. On POSIX systems, if a specific executable
python3.xwas used, symlinks to
python3will be created pointing to that executable, unless files with those names already exist.
Installs activation scripts appropriate to the platform into the virtual environment.
Upgrades the core venv dependency packages (currently
pip) in the environment. This is done by shelling out to the
pipexecutable in the environment.
New in version 3.9.
Changed in version 3.12:
setuptoolsis no longer a core venv dependency.
A placeholder method which can be overridden in third party implementations to pre-install packages in the virtual environment or perform other post-creation steps.
Changed in version 3.7.2: Windows now uses redirector scripts for
python[w].exeinstead of copying the actual binaries. In 3.7.2 only
setup_python()does nothing unless running from a build in the source tree.
Changed in version 3.7.3: Windows copies the redirector scripts as part of
setup_scripts(). This was not the case in 3.7.2. When using symlinks, the original executables will be linked.
- install_scripts(context, path)¶
path is the path to a directory that should contain subdirectories “common”, “posix”, “nt”, each containing scripts destined for the bin directory in the environment. The contents of “common” and the directory corresponding to
os.nameare copied after some text replacement of placeholders:
__VENV_DIR__is replaced with the absolute path of the environment directory.
__VENV_NAME__is replaced with the environment name (final path segment of environment directory).
__VENV_PROMPT__is replaced with the prompt (the environment name surrounded by parentheses and with a following space)
__VENV_BIN_NAME__is replaced with the name of the bin directory (either
__VENV_PYTHON__is replaced with the absolute path of the environment’s executable.
The directories are allowed to exist (for when an existing environment is being upgraded).
There is also a module-level convenience function:
- venv.create(env_dir, system_site_packages=False, clear=False, symlinks=False, with_pip=False, prompt=None, upgrade_deps=False)¶
New in version 3.3.
Changed in version 3.4: Added the
Changed in version 3.6: Added the
Changed in version 3.9: Added the
An example of extending
The following script shows how to extend
EnvBuilder by implementing a
subclass which installs setuptools and pip into a created virtual environment:
import os import os.path from subprocess import Popen, PIPE import sys from threading import Thread from urllib.parse import urlparse from urllib.request import urlretrieve import venv class ExtendedEnvBuilder(venv.EnvBuilder): """ This builder installs setuptools and pip so that you can pip or easy_install other packages into the created virtual environment. :param nodist: If true, setuptools and pip are not installed into the created virtual environment. :param nopip: If true, pip is not installed into the created virtual environment. :param progress: If setuptools or pip are installed, the progress of the installation can be monitored by passing a progress callable. If specified, it is called with two arguments: a string indicating some progress, and a context indicating where the string is coming from. The context argument can have one of three values: 'main', indicating that it is called from virtualize() itself, and 'stdout' and 'stderr', which are obtained by reading lines from the output streams of a subprocess which is used to install the app. If a callable is not specified, default progress information is output to sys.stderr. """ def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs): self.nodist = kwargs.pop('nodist', False) self.nopip = kwargs.pop('nopip', False) self.progress = kwargs.pop('progress', None) self.verbose = kwargs.pop('verbose', False) super().__init__(*args, **kwargs) def post_setup(self, context): """ Set up any packages which need to be pre-installed into the virtual environment being created. :param context: The information for the virtual environment creation request being processed. """ os.environ['VIRTUAL_ENV'] = context.env_dir if not self.nodist: self.install_setuptools(context) # Can't install pip without setuptools if not self.nopip and not self.nodist: self.install_pip(context) def reader(self, stream, context): """ Read lines from a subprocess' output stream and either pass to a progress callable (if specified) or write progress information to sys.stderr. """ progress = self.progress while True: s = stream.readline() if not s: break if progress is not None: progress(s, context) else: if not self.verbose: sys.stderr.write('.') else: sys.stderr.write(s.decode('utf-8')) sys.stderr.flush() stream.close() def install_script(self, context, name, url): _, _, path, _, _, _ = urlparse(url) fn = os.path.split(path)[-1] binpath = context.bin_path distpath = os.path.join(binpath, fn) # Download script into the virtual environment's binaries folder urlretrieve(url, distpath) progress = self.progress if self.verbose: term = '\n' else: term = '' if progress is not None: progress('Installing %s ...%s' % (name, term), 'main') else: sys.stderr.write('Installing %s ...%s' % (name, term)) sys.stderr.flush() # Install in the virtual environment args = [context.env_exe, fn] p = Popen(args, stdout=PIPE, stderr=PIPE, cwd=binpath) t1 = Thread(target=self.reader, args=(p.stdout, 'stdout')) t1.start() t2 = Thread(target=self.reader, args=(p.stderr, 'stderr')) t2.start() p.wait() t1.join() t2.join() if progress is not None: progress('done.', 'main') else: sys.stderr.write('done.\n') # Clean up - no longer needed os.unlink(distpath) def install_setuptools(self, context): """ Install setuptools in the virtual environment. :param context: The information for the virtual environment creation request being processed. """ url = "https://bootstrap.pypa.io/ez_setup.py" self.install_script(context, 'setuptools', url) # clear up the setuptools archive which gets downloaded pred = lambda o: o.startswith('setuptools-') and o.endswith('.tar.gz') files = filter(pred, os.listdir(context.bin_path)) for f in files: f = os.path.join(context.bin_path, f) os.unlink(f) def install_pip(self, context): """ Install pip in the virtual environment. :param context: The information for the virtual environment creation request being processed. """ url = 'https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py' self.install_script(context, 'pip', url) def main(args=None): import argparse parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(prog=__name__, description='Creates virtual Python ' 'environments in one or ' 'more target ' 'directories.') parser.add_argument('dirs', metavar='ENV_DIR', nargs='+', help='A directory in which to create the ' 'virtual environment.') parser.add_argument('--no-setuptools', default=False, action='store_true', dest='nodist', help="Don't install setuptools or pip in the " "virtual environment.") parser.add_argument('--no-pip', default=False, action='store_true', dest='nopip', help="Don't install pip in the virtual " "environment.") parser.add_argument('--system-site-packages', default=False, action='store_true', dest='system_site', help='Give the virtual environment access to the ' 'system site-packages dir.') if os.name == 'nt': use_symlinks = False else: use_symlinks = True parser.add_argument('--symlinks', default=use_symlinks, action='store_true', dest='symlinks', help='Try to use symlinks rather than copies, ' 'when symlinks are not the default for ' 'the platform.') parser.add_argument('--clear', default=False, action='store_true', dest='clear', help='Delete the contents of the ' 'virtual environment ' 'directory if it already ' 'exists, before virtual ' 'environment creation.') parser.add_argument('--upgrade', default=False, action='store_true', dest='upgrade', help='Upgrade the virtual ' 'environment directory to ' 'use this version of ' 'Python, assuming Python ' 'has been upgraded ' 'in-place.') parser.add_argument('--verbose', default=False, action='store_true', dest='verbose', help='Display the output ' 'from the scripts which ' 'install setuptools and pip.') options = parser.parse_args(args) if options.upgrade and options.clear: raise ValueError('you cannot supply --upgrade and --clear together.') builder = ExtendedEnvBuilder(system_site_packages=options.system_site, clear=options.clear, symlinks=options.symlinks, upgrade=options.upgrade, nodist=options.nodist, nopip=options.nopip, verbose=options.verbose) for d in options.dirs: builder.create(d) if __name__ == '__main__': rc = 1 try: main() rc = 0 except Exception as e: print('Error: %s' % e, file=sys.stderr) sys.exit(rc)
This script is also available for download online.