pip allows a user to change its behaviour via 3 mechanisms:

  • command line options

  • environment variables

  • configuration files

This page explains how the configuration files and environment variables work, and how they are related to pip’s various command line options.

See also

pip config command, which helps manage pip’s configuration.

Configuration Files

Configuration files can change the default values for command line options. The files are written using standard INI format.

pip has 3 “levels” of configuration files:

  • global: system-wide configuration file, shared across users.

  • user: per-user configuration file.

  • site: per-environment configuration file; i.e. per-virtualenv.

Additionally, environment variables can be specified which will override any of the above.


pip’s configuration files are located in fairly standard locations. This location is different on different operating systems, and has some additional complexity for backwards compatibility reasons. Note that if user config files exist in both the legacy and current locations, values in the current file will override values in the legacy file.


In a “pip” subdirectory of any of the paths set in the environment variable XDG_CONFIG_DIRS (if it exists), for example /etc/xdg/pip/pip.conf.

This will be followed by loading /etc/pip.conf.


$HOME/.config/pip/pip.conf, which respects the XDG_CONFIG_HOME environment variable.

The legacy “per-user” configuration file is also loaded, if it exists: $HOME/.pip/pip.conf.




/Library/Application Support/pip/pip.conf


$HOME/Library/Application Support/pip/pip.conf if directory $HOME/Library/Application Support/pip exists else $HOME/.config/pip/pip.conf

The legacy “per-user” configuration file is also loaded, if it exists: $HOME/.pip/pip.conf.



  • On Windows 7 and later: C:\ProgramData\pip\pip.ini (hidden but writeable)

  • On Windows Vista: Global configuration is not supported.

  • On Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\pip\pip.ini



The legacy “per-user” configuration file is also loaded, if it exists: %HOME%\pip\pip.ini




Additionally, the environment variable PIP_CONFIG_FILE can be used to specify a configuration file that’s loaded last, and whose values override the values set in the aforementioned files. Setting this to os.devnull disables the loading of all configuration files. Note that if a file exists at the location that this is set to, the user config file will not be loaded.

Loading order

When multiple configuration files are found, pip combines them in the following order:

  • Global

  • User

  • Site

  • PIP_CONFIG_FILE, if given.

Each file read overrides any values read from previous files, so if the global timeout is specified in both the global file and the per-user file then the latter value will be used.


The names of the settings are derived from the long command line option.

As an example, if you want to use a different package index (--index-url) and set the HTTP timeout (--timeout) to 60 seconds, your config file would look like this:

timeout = 60
index-url =

Per-command section

Each subcommand can be configured optionally in its own section. This overrides the global setting with the same name.

As an example, if you want to decrease the timeout to 10 seconds when running the pip freeze, and use 60 seconds for all other commands:

timeout = 60

timeout = 10

Boolean options

Boolean options like --ignore-installed or --no-dependencies can be set like this:

ignore-installed = true
no-dependencies = yes

To enable the boolean options --no-compile, --no-warn-script-location and --no-cache-dir, falsy values have to be used:

no-cache-dir = false

no-compile = no
no-warn-script-location = false

Repeatable options

For options which can be repeated like --verbose and --quiet, a non-negative integer can be used to represent the level to be specified:

quiet = 0
verbose = 2

It is possible to append values to a section within a configuration file. This is applicable to appending options like --find-links or --trusted-host, which can be written on multiple lines:

find-links =

find-links =

trusted-host =

This enables users to add additional values in the order of entry for such command line arguments.

Environment Variables

pip’s command line options can be set with environment variables using the format PIP_<UPPER_LONG_NAME> . Dashes (-) have to be replaced with underscores (_).

  • PIP_TIMEOUT=60 is the same as --timeout=60


    is the same as

    --find-links= --find-links=

Repeatable options that do not take a value (such as --verbose) can be specified using the number of repetitions:

  • PIP_VERBOSE=3 is the same as pip install -vvv


Environment variables set to an empty string (like with export X= on Unix) will not be treated as false. Use no, false or 0 instead.

Precedence / Override order

Command line options override environment variables, which override the values in a configuration file. Within the configuration file, values in command-specific sections override values in the global section.


  • --host=foo overrides PIP_HOST=foo

  • PIP_HOST=foo overrides a config file with [global] host = foo

  • A command specific section in the config file [<command>] host = bar overrides the option with same name in the [global] config file section.