Installing pip packages in userspace on OSX

27.10.2016 by Dirk Olmes

I tried to install a python package with pip on my wife’s Macbook Air. There are tons of instructions out on the internet telling you how to install pip and friends on OSX. All of them start by stating that the default install of Python that comes with OSX is somewhat weird and that you should really, really install a custom version of Python if you’re intending to do serious Python development.

Now I don’t have the developer tools installed and I didn’t intend to do so - wastes gigabytes of disk space that will hardly ever be used after all. So I tried to get away with the Python that’s installed out of the box.

Before I can use pip it has to be installed. I want to install everything in userspace so first a proper PYTHONPATH has to be set up:

export PYTHONPATH=/Users/dirk/Python/site-packages

Then I can go ahead and use easy_install to install pip:

easy_install --install-dir /Users/dirk/Python/site-packages pip

Make sure to add /Users/dirk/Python to your PATH so that you can call pip without specifying the full path.

Now I can start installing packages:

pip install --target /Users/dirk/Python/site-packages <package>

This approach has its limitations, though. Since the developer tools aren’t installed packages that require compliation of C code won’t work.


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