Advanced Usage of Pipenv

This document covers some of pipenv’s more advanced features.

☤ Example Pipfile & Pipfile.lock

Here is a simple example of a Pipfile and the resulting Pipfile.lock.

Example Pipfile

pytest = "*"

requests = "*"

Example Pipfile.lock

    "_meta": {
        "hash": {
            "sha256": "08e3181df84d04301c9d435357ec9cf43c4a491d79a1ada682cce8936c492f49"
        "host-environment-markers": {
            "implementation_name": "cpython",
            "implementation_version": "3.6.2",
            "os_name": "posix",
            "platform_machine": "x86_64",
            "platform_python_implementation": "CPython",
            "platform_release": "16.7.0",
            "platform_system": "Darwin",
            "platform_version": "Darwin Kernel Version 16.7.0: Thu Jun 15 17:36:27 PDT 2017; root:xnu-3789.70.16~2/RELEASE_X86_64",
            "python_full_version": "3.6.2",
            "python_version": "3.6",
            "sys_platform": "darwin"
        "pipfile-spec": 2,
        "requires": {},
        "sources": [
                "url": "",
                "verify_ssl": true
    "default": {
        "certifi": {
            "hashes": [
            "version": "==2017.7.27.1"
        "chardet": {
            "hashes": [
            "version": "==3.0.4"
        "idna": {
            "hashes": [
            "version": "==2.6"
        "requests": {
            "hashes": [
            "version": "==2.18.4"
        "urllib3": {
            "hashes": [
            "version": "==1.22"
    "develop": {
        "py": {
            "version": "==1.4.34"
        "pytest": {
            "version": "==3.2.1"

☤ Importing from requirements.txt

If you only have a requirements.txt file available when running pipenv install, pipenv will automatically import the contents of this file and create a Pipfile for you.

☤ Specifying Versions of a Package

To tell pipenv to install a specific version of a library, the usage is simple:

$ pipenv install requests==2.13.0

This will update your Pipfile to reflect this requirement, automatically.

☤ Specifying Versions of Python

To create a new virtualenv, using a specific version of Python you have installed (and on your PATH), use the --python VERSION flag, like so:

Use Python 3.6:

$ pipenv --python 3.6

Use Python 2.7:

$ pipenv --python 2.7

When given a Python version, like this, Pipenv will automatically scan your system for a Python that matches that given version.

If a Pipfile hasn’t been created yet, one will be created for you, that looks like this:

url = ""
verify_ssl = true



python_version = "3.6"

Note the inclusion of [requires] python_version = "3.6". This specifies that your application requires this version of Python, and will be used automatically when running pipenv install against this Pipfile in the future (e.g. on other machines). If this is not true, feel free to simply remove this section.

If you don’t specify a Python version on the command–line, either the [requires] python_version will be selected automatically, or whatever your system’s default python installation is, at time of execution.

☤ Automatic Python Installation

If you have pyenv installed and configured, Pipenv will automatically ask you if you want to install a required version of Python if you don’t already have it available.

This is a very fancy feature, and we’re very proud of it:

$ cat Pipfile
url = ""
verify_ssl = true


requests = "*"

python_version = "3.6"

$ pipenv install
Warning: Python 3.6 was not found on your system…
Would you like us to install latest CPython 3.6 with pyenv? [Y/n]: y
Installing CPython 3.6.2 with pyenv (this may take a few minutes)…
Making Python installation global…
Creating a virtualenv for this project…
Using /Users/kennethreitz/.pyenv/shims/python3 to create virtualenv…
No package provided, installing all dependencies.
Installing dependencies from Pipfile.lock…
🐍   ❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒❒ 5/5 — 00:00:03
To activate this project's virtualenv, run the following:
 $ pipenv shell


☤ Fancy Installation of Pipenv

To install pipenv in a fancy way, we recommend using pipsi.

Pipsi is a powerful tool which allows you to install Python scripts into isolated virtual environments.

To install pipsi, first run this:

$ curl | python

Follow the instructions, you’ll have to update your PATH.

Then, simply run:

$ pipsi install pew
$ pipsi install pipenv

To upgrade pipenv at any time:

$ pipsi upgrade pipenv

This will install both pipenv and pew (one of our dependencies) in an isolated virtualenv, so it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your Python installation!

☤ Pragmatic Installation of Pipenv

If you have a working installation of pip, and maintain certain “toolchain” type Python modules as global utilities in your user enviornment, pip user installs allow for installation into your home directory. Note that due to interaction between dependencies, you should limit tools installed in this way to basic building blocks for a Python workflow like virtualenv, pipenv, tox, and similar software.

To install:

$ pip install --user pipenv

For more information see the user installs documentation, but to add the installed cli tools from a pip user install to your path, add the output of:

$ python -c "import site; import os; print(os.path.join(site.USER_BASE, 'bin'))"

To upgrade pipenv at any time:

$ pip install --user --upgrade pipenv

☤ Crude Installation of Pipenv

If you don’t even have pip installed, you can use this crude installation method, which will boostrap your whole system:

$ curl | python

Congratulations, you now have pip and Pipenv installed!

☤ Environment Management with Pipenv

The three primary commands you’ll use in managing your pipenv environment are $ pipenv install, $ pipenv uninstall, and $ pipenv lock.

$ pipenv install

$ pipenv install is used for installing packages into the pipenv virtual environment and updating your Pipfile.

Along with the basic install command, which takes the form:

$ pipenv install [package names]

The user can provide these additional parameters:

  • --two — Performs the installation in a virtualenv using the system python2 link.
  • --three — Performs the installation in a virtualenv using the system python3 link.
  • --python — Performs the installation in a virtualenv using the provided Python intepreter.


None of the above commands should be used together. They are also destructive and will delete your current virtualenv before replacing it with an appropriately versioned one.


The virtualenv created by Pipenv may be different from what you were expecting. Dangerous characters (i.e. $`!*@" as well as space, line feed, carriage return, and tab) are converted to underscores. Additionally, the full path to the current folder is encoded into a “slug value” and appended to ensure the virtualenv name is unique.

  • --dev — Install both develop and default packages from Pipfile.lock.
  • --system — Use the system pip command rather than the one from your virtualenv.
  • --ignore-pipfile — Ignore the Pipfile and install from the Pipfile.lock.
  • --skip-lock — Ignore the Pipfile.lock and install from the Pipfile. In addition, do not write out a Pipfile.lock reflecting changes to the Pipfile.

$ pipenv uninstall

$ pipenv uninstall supports all of the parameters in pipenv install, as well as one additonal, --all.

  • --all — This parameter will purge all files from the virtual environment,
    but leave the Pipfile untouched.

$ pipenv lock

$ pipenv lock is used to create a Pipfile.lock, which declares all dependencies (and sub-dependencies) of your project, their latest available versions, and the current hashes for the downloaded files. This ensures repeatable, and most importantly deterministic, builds.

☤ About Shell Configuration

Shells are typically misconfigured for subshell use, so $ pipenv shell may produce unexpected results. If this is the case, try $ pipenv shell -c, which uses “compatibility mode”, and will attempt to spawn a subshell despite misconfiguration.

A proper shell configuration only sets environment variables like PATH during a login session, not during every subshell spawn (as they are typically configured to do). In fish, this looks like this:

if status --is-login

    set -gx PATH /usr/local/bin $PATH


You should do this for your shell too, in your ~/.profile or ~/.bashrc or wherever appropriate.

☤ Configuration With Environment Variables

pipenv comes with a handful of options that can be enabled via shell environment variables. To activate them, simply create the variable in your shell and pipenv will detect it.

  • PIPENV_SHELL_COMPAT — Always use compatibility mode when invoking pipenv shell.
  • PIPENV_VENV_IN_PROJECT — If set, use .venv in your project directory
    instead of the global virtualenv manager pew.
  • PIPENV_COLORBLIND — Disable terminal colors, for some reason.
  • PIPENV_NOSPIN — Disable terminal spinner, for cleaner logs.
  • PIPENV_MAX_DEPTH — Set to an integer for the maximum number of directories to resursively
    search for a Pipfile.
  • PIPENV_TIMEOUT — Set to an integer for the max number of seconds Pipenv will
    wait for virtualenv creation to complete. Defaults to 120 seconds.
  • PIPENV_IGNORE_VIRTUALENVS — Set to disable automatically using an activated virtualenv over
    the current project’s own virtual environment.

Also note that pip itself supports environment variables, if you need additional customization.

☤ Custom Virtual Environment Location

Pipenv’s underlying pew dependency will automatically honor the WORKON_HOME environment variable, if you have it set — so you can tell pipenv to store your virtual environments wherever you want, e.g.:

export WORKON_HOME=~/.venvs

☤ Testing Projects

While pipenv is still a relatively new project, it’s already being used in projects like Requests. Specifically for transitioning to the new Pipfile format and running the test suite.

We’ve currently tested deployments with both Travis-CI and tox with success.

Travis CI

An example Travis CI setup can be found in Requests. The project uses a Makefile to define common functions such as its init and tests commands. Here is a stripped down example .travis.yml:

language: python
    - "2.6"
    - "2.7"
    - "3.3"
    - "3.4"
    - "3.5"
    - "3.6"
    - "3.7dev"

# command to install dependencies
install: "make"

# command to run tests
    - make test

and the corresponding Makefile:

    pip install pipenv
    pipenv install --dev

    pipenv run py.test tests

Tox Automation Project

Alternatively, you can configure a tox.ini like the one below for both local and external testing:

envlist = flake8-py3, py26, py27, py33, py34, py35, py36, pypy

deps = pipenv
    pipenv install --dev
    pipenv run py.test tests

basepython = python3.4
    pipenv install --dev
    pipenv run flake8 --version
    pipenv run flake8 docs project test


With Pipenv’s default configuration, you’ll need to use tox’s passenv parameter to pass your shell’s HOME variable.

☤ Pipfile.lock Security Features

Pipfile.lock takes advantage of some great new security improvements in pip. By default, the Pipfile.lock will be generated with the sha256 hashes of each downloaded package. This will allow pip to guarantee you’re installing what you intend to when on a compromised network, or downloading dependencies from an untrusted PyPI endpoint.

We highly recommend approaching deployments with promoting projects from a development environment into production. You can use pipenv lock to compile your dependencies on your development environment and deploy the compiled Pipfile.lock to all of your production environments for reproducible builds.

☤ Shell Completion

Set _PIPENV_COMPLETE and then source the output of the program. For example, with fish, put this in your ~/.config/fish/completions/

eval (env _PIPENV_COMPLETE=source-fish pipenv)

Magic shell completions are now enabled!