There are two types of site-packages directories, global and per user.

  1. Global site-packages (“dist-packages”) directories are listed in sys.path when you run:

     python -m site
    

    For a more concise list run getsitepackages from the site module in Python code:

     python -c 'import site; print(site.getsitepackages())'
    

    Caution: In virtual environments getsitepackages is not available with older versions of virtualenv, sys.path from above will list the virtualenv’s site-packages directory correctly, though. In Python 3, you may use the sysconfig module instead:

     python3 -c 'import sysconfig; print(sysconfig.get_paths()["purelib"])'
    
  2. The per user site-packages directory (PEP 370) is where Python installs your local packages:

     python -m site --user-site
    

    If this points to a non-existing directory check the exit status of Python and see python -m site --help for explanations.

    Hint: Running pip list --user or pip freeze --user gives you a list of all installed per user site-packages.


Practical Tips

  • <package>.__path__ lets you identify the location(s) of a specific package: (details)

      $ python -c "import setuptools as _; print(_.__path__)"
      ['/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/setuptools']
    
  • <module>.__file__ lets you identify the location of a specific module: (difference)

      $ python3 -c "import os as _; print(_.__file__)"
      /usr/lib/python3.6/os.py
    
  • Run pip show <package> to show Debian-style package information:

      $ pip show pytest
      Name: pytest
      Version: 3.8.2
      Summary: pytest: simple powerful testing with Python
      Home-page: https://docs.pytest.org/en/latest/
      Author: Holger Krekel, Bruno Oliveira, Ronny Pfannschmidt, Floris Bruynooghe, Brianna Laugher, Florian Bruhin and others
      Author-email: None
      License: MIT license
      Location: /home/peter/.local/lib/python3.4/site-packages
      Requires: more-itertools, atomicwrites, setuptools, attrs, pathlib2, six, py, pluggy