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Last updated on 3/1/22

Manage Python Packages

Woman installing packages

Install and use a Python Package

Once you have located a Python package that you want to make use of, you can use the command  pip install <package>  to install it. We are going to make use of the  matplotlib  package - a package that helps you draw graphs using Python.

Let’s do it together, step by step. 😊

First, create a file called  generate_graph.py  and put in the following contents:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
plt.plot([1, 2, 3, 4, 5])

Now, try running the command  python generate_graph.py  from your command line. If the command executes successfully, and the script generates a graph then great - you already have the  matplotlib  package installed.

If the script doesn’t execute successfully then you may well be getting an error message similar to the following:

→ python generate_graph.py
Error processing line 1 of /Users/george/anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages/matplotlib-3.0.2-py3.7-nspkg.pth:
  Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "/Users/george/anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site.py", line168, in addpackage
    File "<string>", line1, in <module>
    File "<frozenimportlib._bootstrap>", line 580, inmodule_from_spec
  AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'loader'
Remainder of file ignored
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "generate_graph.py", line1, in<module>
    import matplotlib.pyplotasplt
Module Not Found Error: No module named 'matplotlib'

If this is the case, you need to install the  matplotlib  package using  pip install matplotlib  :

→ pip install matplotlib
Collecting matplotlib
  Using cached https://files.pythonhosted.org/packages/4a/5c/ced2e398aad26b24a7beaa2b22830811dfc953c73a0b3b930e26c12d1d19/matplotlib-3.2.2-cp37-cp37m-macosx_10_9_x86_64.whl
Requirement already satisfied: numpy>=1.11 in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(frommatplotlib)(1.18.4)
Requirement already satisfied: kiwisolver>=1.0.1 in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(frommatplotlib)(1.0.1)
Requirement already satisfied: python-dateutil>=2.1 in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(frommatplotlib)(2.7.5)
Requirement already satisfied: cycler>=0.10 in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(frommatplotlib)(0.10.0)
Requirement already satisfied: pyparsing!=2.0.4,!=2.1.2,!=2.1.6,>=2.0.1 in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(frommatplotlib)(2.3.0)
Requirement already satisfied: setuptools in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(fromkiwisolver>=1.0.1->matplotlib)(40.6.3)
Requirement already satisfied: six>=1.5 in ./anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages(frompython-dateutil>=2.1->matplotlib)(1.12.0)
Installing collected packages: matplotlib
Successfully installed matplotlib-3.2.2

Now, if you try and run your  generate_graph.py  script using  python generate_graph.py  , it should execute successfully and the following graph should appear:  

matplotlib graph

Congratulations, you have successfully installed and used your first Python package,  matplotlib  . 😄

To double-check your installation of  matplotlib  , use the following screencast: 

Check which packages you have installed

To check which Python packages you have installed you can run two different commands in your terminal,  pip list  or  pip freeze  .  

pip list   lists all of the packages you have installed (and their dependencies) in a human-readable format:

→ pip list
Package              Version Location
alabaster             0.7.12
anaconda-client          1.7.2
anaconda-navigator        1.9.6
anaconda-project         0.8.2
appnope              0.1.0
appscript             1.0.1
asn1crypto            0.24.0
aspy.yaml             1.3.0
astroid              2.1.0
astropy              3.1
atomicwrites           1.2.1
attrs               18.2.0
awscli              1.16.168
Babel               2.6.0
backcall             0.1.0
backports.os           0.1.1
bcrypt              3.1.6

pip freeze  lists the packages you have installed (but not their dependencies) in a format suitable for storing in a file (often called a  requirements.txt  file) - something that we will cover in much more detail at a later stage. To demonstrate: 

→ pip freeze

Another useful command with  pip  is  pip show <package(s)>  , which shows you useful information about one or more packages that you have installed. For example, to get more information about the  requests  package that I have installed I would run the following command:

→ pip show requests
Name: requests
Version: 2.23.0
Summary: PythonHTTPforHumans.
Home-page: https://requests.readthedocs.io
Author: KennethReitz
Author-email: me@kennethreitz.org
License: Apache2.0
Location: /Users/george/anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages
Requires: urllib3, idna, certifi, chardet
Required-by: Sphinx, conda, conda-build, anaconda-project, anaconda-client

I can use  pip show  to get information about multiple packages by separating the package names with a space:

→pip show requests numpy pandas
Name: requests
Version: 2.23.0
Summary: Python HTTP for Humans.
Home-page: https://requests.readthedocs.io
Author: Kenneth Reitz
Author-email: me@kennethreitz.org
License: Apache2.0
Location: /Users/george/anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages
Requires: idna, certifi, chardet, urllib3
Required-by: Sphinx, conda, conda-build, anaconda-project,a naconda-client
Name: numpy
Version: 1.18.4
Summary: NumPy is the fundamental package for array computing with Python.
Author: Travis E. Oliphantetal.
Author-email: None
License: BSD
Location: /Users/george/anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages
Required-by: tables, seaborn, scikit-learn, PyWavelets, pytest-doctestplus, pytest-arraydiff, patsy, pandas, odo, numexpr, numba, mkl-random, mkl-fft, matplotlib, h5py, datashape, Bottleneck, bokeh, bkcharts, astropy
Name: pandas
Version: 0.23.4
Summary: Powerful data structures for data analysis, timeseries, and statistics
Home-page: http://pandas.pydata.org
Author: None
Author-email: None
License: BSD
Location: /Users/george/anaconda3/lib/python3.7/site-packages
Requires: python-dateutil, pytz, numpy
Required-by: seaborn, odo

If you are looking for a bit more information about installing packages and using them in scripts, or if you haven’t quite managed to use  pip  to show or list your packages, check out the following screencast for some extra tips: 


You are working as a marketeer. Your manager has recently been trying to learn Python because they think that they will be able to use it to automate some repetitive tasks. They have sent you a Python script that they want you to try and run, but have just popped into a meeting and aren’t around.

Download this script and try to run it from the command line using Python.

If it executes successfully the first time around, then great, you don’t need to do anything else! If it doesn’t, however, your job is to investigate which packages you need to install from PyPI, install them, and run the script successfully!

Let’s Recap!

  • pip install <package>  is used to install Python packages from the command line.

  • Once you have installed a Python package, you can  import  it into a Python script and make use of its functionality.

  • pip  has different commands available that you can use to view which packages you currently have installed.

Now that you have had a go at installing and using Python packages, let’s focus a little more on the different methods for installing packages and modules and when we should use them. 

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