How do I find the location of my Python site-packages directory?


How do I find the location of my site-packages directory?

9/23/2008 5:04:43 PM

Accepted Answer

There are two types of site-packages directories, global and per user.

  1. Global site-packages ("dist-packages") directories are listed in sys.path when you run:

    python -m site

    For a more concise list run getsitepackages from the site module in Python code:

    python -c 'import site; print(site.getsitepackages())'

    Note: With virtualenvs getsitepackages is not available, sys.path from above will list the virtualenv's site-packages directory correctly, though. In Python 3, you may use the sysconfig module instead:

    python3 -c 'import sysconfig; print(sysconfig.get_paths()["purelib"])'
  2. The per user site-packages directory (PEP 370) is where Python installs your local packages:

    python -m site --user-site

    If this points to a non-existing directory check the exit status of Python and see python -m site --help for explanations.

    Hint: Running pip list --user or pip freeze --user gives you a list of all installed per user site-packages.

Practical Tips

  • <package>.__path__ lets you identify the location(s) of a specific package: (details)

    $ python -c "import setuptools as _; print(_.__path__)"
  • <module>.__file__ lets you identify the location of a specific module: (difference)

    $ python3 -c "import os as _; print(_.__file__)"
  • Run pip show <package> to show Debian-style package information:

    $ pip show pytest
    Name: pytest
    Version: 3.8.2
    Summary: pytest: simple powerful testing with Python
    Author: Holger Krekel, Bruno Oliveira, Ronny Pfannschmidt, Floris Bruynooghe, Brianna Laugher, Florian Bruhin and others
    Author-email: None
    License: MIT license
    Location: /home/peter/.local/lib/python3.4/site-packages
    Requires: more-itertools, atomicwrites, setuptools, attrs, pathlib2, six, py, pluggy
2/12/2020 1:46:28 AM

A solution that:

  • outside of virtualenv - provides the path of global site-packages,
  • insidue a virtualenv - provides the virtualenv's site-packages this one-liner:

python -c "from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib; print(get_python_lib())"

Formatted for readability (rather than use as a one-liner), that looks like the following:

from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib

Source: an very old version of "How to Install Django" documentation (though this is useful to more than just Django installation)


For Ubuntu,

python -c "from distutils.sysconfig import get_python_lib; print get_python_lib()" not correct.

It will point you to /usr/lib/pythonX.X/dist-packages

This folder only contains packages your operating system has automatically installed for programs to run.

On ubuntu, the site-packages folder that contains packages installed via setup_tools\easy_install\pip will be in /usr/local/lib/pythonX.X/dist-packages

The second folder is probably the more useful one if the use case is related to installation or reading source code.

If you do not use Ubuntu, you are probably safe copy-pasting the first code box into the terminal.


This is what worked for me:

python -m site --user-site

Let's say you have installed the package 'django'. import it and type in dir(django). It will show you, all the functions and attributes with that module. Type in the python interpreter -

>>> import django
>>> dir(django)
['VERSION', '__builtins__', '__doc__', '__file__', '__name__', '__package__', '__path__', 'get_version']
>>> print django.__path__

You can do the same thing if you have installed mercurial.

This is for Snow Leopard. But I think it should work in general as well.


As others have noted, distutils.sysconfig has the relevant settings:

import distutils.sysconfig
print distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib()

...though the default does something a bit more crude, paraphrased below:

import sys, os
print os.sep.join([sys.prefix, 'lib', 'python' + sys.version[:3], 'site-packages'])

(it also adds ${sys.prefix}/lib/site-python and adds both paths for sys.exec_prefix as well, should that constant be different).

That said, what's the context? You shouldn't be messing with your site-packages directly; setuptools/distutils will work for installation, and your program may be running in a virtualenv where your pythonpath is completely user-local, so it shouldn't assume use of the system site-packages directly either.


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