IPython Documentation

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Using IPython for interactive work

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This documentation is for an old version of IPython. You can find docs for newer versions here.

IPython requires Python 2.6, 2.7, or ≥ 3.2.


If you need to use Python 2.5, you can find an old version (≤0.10) of IPython here.


If you have setuptools, the quickest way to get up and running with IPython is:

$ easy_install ipython[all]

This will download and install IPython and its main optional dependencies:

  • jinja2, needed for the notebook
  • sphinx, needed for nbconvert
  • pyzmq, needed for IPython’s parallel computing features, qt console and notebook
  • pygments, used by nbconvert and the Qt console for syntax highlighting
  • tornado, needed by the web-based notebook
  • nose, used by the test suite
  • readline (on OS X) or pyreadline (on Windows), needed for the terminal

To run IPython’s test suite, use the iptest command:

$ iptest


$ pip install ipython[all]

will also work in many cases, but it will ignore the binary eggs of packages such as pyzmq and readline, which may be required for some users on Windows or OS X.


This document describes in detail the steps required to install IPython, and its various optional dependencies. For a few quick ways to get started with package managers or full Python distributions, see the install page of the IPython website.

IPython is organized into a number of subpackages, each of which has its own dependencies. All of the subpackages come with IPython, so you don’t need to download and install them separately. However, to use a given subpackage, you will need to install all of its dependencies.

Please let us know if you have problems installing IPython or any of its dependencies.

IPython and most dependencies can be installed via easy_install, provided by the setuptools package, or pip. In many scenarios, this is the most simplest method of installing Python packages. More information about setuptools can be found on its PyPI page.


On Windows, IPython requires setuptools. We hope to change this in the future, but for now on Windows, you must install setuptools to use IPython.

More general information about installing Python packages can be found in Python’s documentation.

Installing IPython itself

Given a properly built Python, the basic interactive IPython shell will work with no external dependencies. However, some Python distributions (particularly on Windows and OS X), don’t come with a working readline module. The IPython shell will work without readline, but will lack many features that users depend on, such as tab completion and command line editing. If you install IPython with setuptools, (e.g. with easy_install), then the appropriate readline for your platform will be installed. See below for details of how to make sure you have a working readline.

Installation using easy_install or pip

If you have setuptools or pip, the easiest way of getting IPython is to simply use easy_install or pip:

$ pip install ipython

That’s it.


Many prefer pip to easy_install, but it ignores eggs (binary Python packages). This mainly affects pyzmq and readline, which are compiled packages and provide binary eggs. If you use pip to install these packages, it will always compile from source, which may not succeed.

Installation from source

If you don’t want to use easy_install, or don’t have it installed, just grab the latest stable build of IPython from here. Then do the following:

$ tar -xzf ipython.tar.gz
$ cd ipython
$ python setup.py install

If you are installing to a location (like /usr/local) that requires higher permissions, you may need to run the last command with sudo.


As mentioned above, on Windows, IPython requires setuptools, and it also requires the PyReadline library to properly support coloring and keyboard management (features that the default windows console doesn’t have). So on Windows, the installation procedure is:

  1. Install setuptools.
  2. Install pyreadline. You can use the command easy_install pyreadline from a terminal, or the binary installer appropriate for your platform from the PyPI page.
  3. Install IPython itself, which you can download from PyPI or from our site. Note that on Windows 7, you must right-click and ‘Run as administrator’ for the Start menu shortcuts to be created.

IPython by default runs in a terminal window, but the normal terminal application supplied by Microsoft Windows is very primitive. You may want to download the excellent and free Console application instead, which is a far superior tool. You can even configure Console to give you by default an IPython tab, which is very convenient to create new IPython sessions directly from the working terminal.

Installing the development version

It is also possible to install the development version of IPython from our Git source code repository. To do this you will need to have Git installed on your system. Then just do:

$ git clone --recursive https://github.com/ipython/ipython.git
$ cd ipython
$ python setup.py install

Some users want to be able to follow the development branch as it changes. If you have setuptools installed, this is easy. Simply replace the last step by:

$ python setupegg.py develop

This creates links in the right places and installs the command line script to the appropriate places. Then, if you want to update your IPython at any time, just do:

$ git pull

Basic optional dependencies

There are a number of basic optional dependencies that most users will want to get. These are:

  • readline (for command line editing, tab completion, etc.)
  • nose (to run the IPython test suite)
  • pexpect (to use things like irunner)

If you are comfortable installing these things yourself, have at it, otherwise read on for more details.


As indicated above, on Windows, PyReadline is a mandatory dependency. PyReadline is a separate, Windows only implementation of readline that uses native Windows calls through ctypes. The easiest way of installing PyReadline is you use the binary installer available here.

On OSX, if you are using the built-in Python shipped by Apple, you will be missing a full readline implementation as Apple ships instead a library called libedit that provides only some of readline’s functionality. While you may find libedit sufficient, we have occasional reports of bugs with it and several developers who use OS X as their main environment consider libedit unacceptable for productive, regular use with IPython.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that on OS X you get the full readline module. We will not consider completion/history problems to be bugs for IPython if you are using libedit.

To get a working readline module, just do (with setuptools installed):

$ easy_install readline


Other Python distributions on OS X (such as fink, MacPorts and the official python.org binaries) already have readline installed so you likely don’t have to do this step.

When IPython is installed with setuptools, (e.g. using the easy_install command), readline is added as a dependency on OS X, and PyReadline on Windows, and will be installed on your system. However, if you do not use setuptools, you may have to install one of these packages yourself.


To run the IPython test suite you will need the nose package. Nose provides a great way of sniffing out and running all of the IPython tests. The simplest way of getting nose is to use easy_install or pip:

$ pip install nose

Another way of getting this is to do:

$ pip install ipython[test]

For more installation options, see the nose website.

Once you have nose installed, you can run IPython’s test suite using the iptest command:

$ iptest


The pexpect package is used in IPython’s irunner script, as well as for managing subprocesses. IPython now includes a version of pexpect in IPython.external, but if you have installed pexpect, IPython will use that instead. On Unix platforms (including OS X), just do:

$ pip install pexpect


On Python 3, you should actually install pexpect-u, a unicode-safe fork of pexpect.

Windows users are out of luck as pexpect does not run there.

Dependencies for IPython.parallel (parallel computing)

IPython.parallel provides a nice architecture for parallel computing, with a focus on fluid interactive workflows. These features require just one package: PyZMQ. See the next section for PyZMQ details.

On a Unix style platform (including OS X), if you want to use setuptools, you can just do:

$ easy_install ipython[zmq]    # will include pyzmq

Security in IPython.parallel is provided by SSH tunnels. By default, Linux and OSX clients will use the shell ssh command, but on Windows, we also support tunneling with paramiko.

Dependencies for IPython.kernel.zmq


IPython 0.11 introduced some new functionality, including a two-process execution model using ZeroMQ for communication. The Python bindings to ZeroMQ are found in the PyZMQ project, which is easy_install-able once you have ZeroMQ installed. If you are on Python 2.6 or 2.7 on OSX, or 2.7 on Windows, pyzmq has eggs that include ZeroMQ itself.

IPython.kernel.zmq depends on pyzmq >= 2.1.4.

Dependencies for the IPython QT console


Like the IPython.parallel package, the QT Console requires ZeroMQ and PyZMQ.


Also with 0.11, a new GUI was added using the work in IPython.kernel.zmq, which can be launched with ipython qtconsole. The GUI is built on Qt, and works with either PyQt, which can be installed from the PyQt website, or PySide, from Nokia.


The syntax-highlighting in ipython qtconsole is done with the pygments project, which is easy_install-able.

Dependencies for the IPython HTML notebook

The IPython notebook is a notebook-style web interface to IPython and can be started with the command ipython notebook.


Like the IPython.parallel and IPython.frontend.qt.console packages, the HTML notebook requires ZeroMQ and PyZMQ.


The IPython notebook uses the Tornado project for its HTTP server. Tornado 2.1 is required, in order to support current versions of browsers, due to an update to the websocket protocol.


The IPython notebook uses the Jinja templating tool to render HTML pages.


The IPython notebook uses the MathJax Javascript library for rendering LaTeX in web browsers. Because MathJax is large, we don’t include it with IPython. Normally IPython will load MathJax from a CDN, but if you have a slow network connection, or want to use LaTeX without an internet connection at all, you can install MathJax locally.

A quick and easy method is to install it from a python session:

from IPython.external.mathjax import install_mathjax

If you need tighter configuration control, you can download your own copy of MathJax from http://www.mathjax.org/download/ - use the MathJax-2.0 link. When you have the file stored locally, install it with:

python -m IPython.external.mathjax /path/to/source/mathjax-MathJax-v2.0-20-g07669ac.zip

For unusual needs, IPython can tell you what directory it wants to find MathJax in:

python -m IPython.external.mathjax -d /some/other/mathjax

By default Mathjax will be installed in your ipython profile directory, but you can make system wide install, please refer to the documentation and helper function of IPython.external.mathjax

Browser Compatibility

The IPython notebook is officially supported on the following browers:

  • Chrome ≥ 13
  • Safari ≥ 5
  • Firefox ≥ 6

The is mainly due to the notebook’s usage of WebSockets and the flexible box model.

The following browsers are unsupported:

  • Safari < 5
  • Firefox < 6
  • Chrome < 13
  • Opera (any): CSS issues, but execution might work
  • Internet Explorer < 10

The following specific combinations are known NOT to work:

  • Safari, IPython 0.12, tornado ≥ 2.2.0
  • Safari with HTTPS connection to notebook and an untrusted certificate (websockets will fail)
  • The [diigo Chrome extension](http://help.diigo.com/tools/chrome-extension) seems to interfere with scrolling

There are some early reports that the Notebook works on Internet Explorer 10, but we expect there will be some CSS issues related to the flexible box model.

Dependencies for nbconvert (converting notebooks to various formats)


The most important dependency of nbconvert is Pandoc, a document format translation program. This is not a Python package, so it cannot be expressed as a regular IPython dependency with setuptools.

To install pandoc on Linux, you can generally use your package manager:

sudo apt-get install pandoc

On other platforms, you can get pandoc from their website.