You can install the latest version of setuptools using pip:

pip install --upgrade setuptools

Most of the times, however, you don’t have to…

Instead, when creating new Python packages, it is recommended to use a command line tool called build. This tool will automatically download setuptools and any other build-time dependencies that your project might have. You just need to specify them in a pyproject.toml file at the root of your package, as indicated in the following section.

You can also install build using pip:

pip install --upgrade build

This will allow you to run the command: python -m build.


Please note that some operating systems might be equipped with the python3 and pip3 commands instead of python and pip (but they should be equivalent). If you don’t have pip or pip3 available in your system, please check out pip installation docs.

Every python package must provide a pyproject.toml and specify the backend (build system) it wants to use. The distribution can then be generated with whatever tool that provides a build sdist-like functionality.

Basic Use

When creating a Python package, you must provide a pyproject.toml file containing a build-system section similar to the example below:

requires = ["setuptools"]
build-backend = "setuptools.build_meta"

This section declares what are your build system dependencies, and which library will be used to actually do the packaging.


Historically this documentation has unnecessarily listed wheel in the requires list, and many projects still do that. This is not recommended, as the backend no longer requires the wheel package, and listing it explicitly causes it to be unnecessarily required for source distribution builds. You should only include wheel in requires if you need to explicitly access it during build time (e.g. if your project needs a setup.py script that imports wheel).

In addition to specifying a build system, you also will need to add some package information such as metadata, contents, dependencies, etc. This can be done in the same pyproject.toml file, or in a separated one: setup.cfg or setup.py [1].

The following example demonstrates a minimum configuration (which assumes the project depends on requests and importlib-metadata to be able to run):

name = "mypackage"
version = "0.0.1"
dependencies = [
    'importlib-metadata; python_version<"3.10"',

See Configuring setuptools using pyproject.toml files for more information.

name = mypackage
version = 0.0.1

install_requires =
    importlib-metadata; python_version<"3.10"

See Configuring setuptools using setup.cfg files for more information.

from setuptools import setup

        'importlib-metadata; python_version<"3.10"',

See Keywords for more information.

Finally, you will need to organize your Python code to make it ready for distributing into something that looks like the following (optional files marked with #):

├── pyproject.toml  # and/or setup.cfg/setup.py (depending on the configuration method)
|   # README.rst or README.md (a nice description of your package)
|   # LICENCE (properly chosen license information, e.g. MIT, BSD-3, GPL-3, MPL-2, etc...)
└── mypackage
    ├── __init__.py
    └── ... (other Python files)

With build installed in your system, you can then run:

python -m build

You now have your distribution ready (e.g. a tar.gz file and a .whl file in the dist directory), which you can upload to PyPI!

Of course, before you release your project to PyPI, you’ll want to add a bit more information to help people find or learn about your project. And maybe your project will have grown by then to include a few dependencies, and perhaps some data files and scripts. In the next few sections, we will walk through the additional but essential information you need to specify to properly package your project.

Info: Using setup.py

Setuptools offers first class support for setup.py files as a configuration mechanism.

It is important to remember, however, that running this file as a script (e.g. python setup.py sdist) is strongly discouraged, and that the majority of the command line interfaces are (or will be) deprecated (e.g. python setup.py install, python setup.py bdist_wininst, …).

We also recommend users to expose as much as possible configuration in a more declarative way via the pyproject.toml or setup.cfg, and keep the setup.py minimal with only the dynamic parts (or even omit it completely if applicable).

See Why you shouldn’t invoke setup.py directly for more background.


Package discovery

For projects that follow a simple directory structure, setuptools should be able to automatically detect all packages and namespaces. However, complex projects might include additional folders and supporting files that not necessarily should be distributed (or that can confuse setuptools auto discovery algorithm).

Therefore, setuptools provides a convenient way to customize which packages should be distributed and in which directory they should be found, as shown in the example below:

# ...
find = {}  # Scan the project directory with the default parameters

# OR
# All the following settings are optional:
where = ["src"]  # ["."] by default
include = ["mypackage*"]  # ["*"] by default
exclude = ["mypackage.tests*"]  # empty by default
namespaces = false  # true by default
packages = find: # OR `find_namespace:` if you want to use namespaces

[options.packages.find]  # (always `find` even if `find_namespace:` was used before)
# This section is optional as well as each of the following options:
where=src  # . by default
include=mypackage*  # * by default
exclude=mypackage.tests*  # empty by default
from setuptools import setup, find_packages  # or find_namespace_packages

    # ...
        # All keyword arguments below are optional:
        where='src',  # '.' by default
        include=['mypackage*'],  # ['*'] by default
        exclude=['mypackage.tests'],  # empty by default
    # ...

When you pass the above information, alongside other necessary information, setuptools walks through the directory specified in where (defaults to .) and filters the packages it can find following the include patterns (defaults to *), then it removes those that match the exclude patterns (defaults to empty) and returns a list of Python packages.

For more details and advanced use, go to Package Discovery and Namespace Packages.


Starting with version 61.0.0, setuptools’ automatic discovery capabilities have been improved to detect popular project layouts (such as the flat-layout and src-layout) without requiring any special configuration. Check out our reference docs for more information.

Entry points and automatic script creation

Setuptools supports automatic creation of scripts upon installation, that run code within your package if you specify them as entry points. An example of how this feature can be used in pip: it allows you to run commands like pip install instead of having to type python -m pip install.

The following configuration examples show how to accomplish this:

cli-name = "mypkg.mymodule:some_func"
console_scripts =
    cli-name = mypkg.mymodule:some_func
    # ...
        'console_scripts': [
            'cli-name = mypkg.mymodule:some_func',

When this project is installed, a cli-name executable will be created. cli-name will invoke the function some_func in the mypkg/mymodule.py file when called by the user. Note that you can also use the entry-points mechanism to advertise components between installed packages and implement plugin systems. For detailed usage, go to Entry Points.

Dependency management

Packages built with setuptools can specify dependencies to be automatically installed when the package itself is installed. The example below shows how to configure this kind of dependencies:

# ...
dependencies = [
    "requests <= 0.4",
# ...
install_requires =
    requests <= 0.4
    # ...
    install_requires=["docutils", "requests <= 0.4"],
    # ...

Each dependency is represented by a string that can optionally contain version requirements (e.g. one of the operators <, >, <=, >=, == or !=, followed by a version identifier), and/or conditional environment markers, e.g. sys_platform == "win32" (see Version specifiers for more information).

When your project is installed, all of the dependencies not already installed will be located (via PyPI), downloaded, built (if necessary), and installed. This, of course, is a simplified scenario. You can also specify groups of extra dependencies that are not strictly required by your package to work, but that will provide additional functionalities. For more advanced use, see Dependencies Management in Setuptools.

Including Data Files

Setuptools offers three ways to specify data files to be included in your packages. For the simplest use, you can simply use the include_package_data keyword:

include-package-data = true
# This is already the default behaviour if you are using
# pyproject.toml to configure your build.
# You can deactivate that with `include-package-data = false`
include_package_data = True
    # ...
    # ...

This tells setuptools to install any data files it finds in your packages. The data files must be specified via the MANIFEST.in file or automatically added by a Revision Control System plugin. For more details, see Data Files Support.

Development mode

setuptools allows you to install a package without copying any files to your interpreter directory (e.g. the site-packages directory). This allows you to modify your source code and have the changes take effect without you having to rebuild and reinstall. Here’s how to do it:

pip install --editable .

See Development Mode (a.k.a. “Editable Installs”) for more information.


Prior to pip v21.1, a setup.py script was required to be compatible with development mode. With late versions of pip, projects without setup.py may be installed in this mode.

If you have a version of pip older than v21.1 or is using a different packaging-related tool that does not support PEP 660, you might need to keep a setup.py file in your repository if you want to use editable installs.

A simple script will suffice, for example:

from setuptools import setup


You can still keep all the configuration in pyproject.toml and/or setup.cfg


When building from source code (for example, by python -m build or pip install -e .) some directories hosting build artefacts and cache files may be created, such as build, dist, *.egg-info [2]. You can configure your version control system to ignore them (see GitHub’s .gitignore template for an example).

Uploading your package to PyPI

After generating the distribution files, the next step would be to upload your distribution so others can use it. This functionality is provided by twine and is documented in the Python packaging tutorial.

Transitioning from setup.py to declarative config

To avoid executing arbitrary scripts and boilerplate code, we are transitioning from defining all your package information by running setup() to doing this declaratively - by using pyproject.toml (or older setup.cfg).

To ease the challenges of transitioning, we provide a quick guide to understanding how pyproject.toml is parsed by setuptools. (Alternatively, here is the guide for setup.cfg).


The approach setuptools would like to take is to eventually use a single declarative format (pyproject.toml) instead of maintaining 2 (pyproject.toml / setup.cfg). Yet, chances are, setup.cfg will continue to be maintained for a long time.

Resources on Python packaging

Packaging in Python can be hard and is constantly evolving. Python Packaging User Guide has tutorials and up-to-date references that can help you when it is time to distribute your work.