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

Introduction to IPython configuration

Setting configurable options

Many of IPython’s classes have configurable attributes (see IPython options for the list). These can be configured in several ways.

Python config files

To create the blank config files, run:

ipython profile create [profilename]

If you leave out the profile name, the files will be created for the default profile (see Profiles). These will typically be located in ~/.ipython/profile_default/, and will be named ipython_config.py, ipython_notebook_config.py, etc. The settings in ipython_config.py apply to all IPython commands.

The files typically start by getting the root config object:

c = get_config()

You can then configure class attributes like this:

c.InteractiveShell.automagic = False

Be careful with spelling–incorrect names will simply be ignored, with no error.

To add to a collection which may have already been defined elsewhere, you can use methods like those found on lists, dicts and sets: append, extend, prepend() (like extend, but at the front), add and update (which works both for dicts and sets):


New in version 2.0: list, dict and set methods for config values

Example config file

# sample ipython_config.py
c = get_config()

c.TerminalIPythonApp.display_banner = True
c.InteractiveShellApp.log_level = 20
c.InteractiveShellApp.extensions = [
c.InteractiveShellApp.exec_lines = [
    'import numpy',
    'import scipy'
c.InteractiveShellApp.exec_files = [
c.InteractiveShell.autoindent = True
c.InteractiveShell.colors = 'LightBG'
c.InteractiveShell.confirm_exit = False
c.InteractiveShell.deep_reload = True
c.InteractiveShell.editor = 'nano'
c.InteractiveShell.xmode = 'Context'

c.PromptManager.in_template  = 'In [\#]: '
c.PromptManager.in2_template = '   .\D.: '
c.PromptManager.out_template = 'Out[\#]: '
c.PromptManager.justify = True

c.PrefilterManager.multi_line_specials = True

c.AliasManager.user_aliases = [
 ('la', 'ls -al')

Command line arguments

Every configurable value can be set from the command line, using this syntax:

ipython --ClassName.attribute=value

Many frequently used options have short aliases and flags, such as --matplotlib (to integrate with a matplotlib GUI event loop) or --pdb (automatic post-mortem debugging of exceptions).

To see all of these abbreviated options, run:

ipython --help
ipython notebook --help
# etc.

Options specified at the command line, in either format, override options set in a configuration file.

The config magic

You can also modify config from inside IPython, using a magic command:

%config IPCompleter.greedy = True

At present, this only affects the current session - changes you make to config are not saved anywhere. Also, some options are only read when IPython starts, so they can’t be changed like this.


IPython can use multiple profiles, with separate configuration and history. By default, if you don’t specify a profile, IPython always runs in the default profile. To use a new profile:

ipython profile create foo   # create the profile foo
ipython --profile=foo        # start IPython using the new profile

Profiles are typically stored in The IPython directory, but you can also keep a profile in the current working directory, for example to distribute it with a project. To find a profile directory on the filesystem:

ipython locate profile foo

The IPython directory

IPython stores its files—config, command history and extensions—in the directory ~/.ipython/ by default.


If set, this environment variable should be the path to a directory, which IPython will use for user data. IPython will create it if it does not exist.


This command line option can also be used to override the default IPython directory.