Locating Modules in Python

PythonServer Side ProgrammingProgramming

When you import a module, the Python interpreter searches for the module in the following sequences −

  • The current directory.
  • If the module isn't found, Python then searches each directory in the shell variable PYTHONPATH.
  • If all else fails, Python checks the default path. On UNIX, this default path is normally /usr/local/lib/python/.

The module search path is stored in the system module sys as the sys.path variable. The sys.path variable contains the current directory, PYTHONPATH, and the installation-dependent default.


The PYTHONPATH is an environment variable, consisting of a list of directories. The syntax of PYTHONPATH is the same as that of the shell variable PATH.

Here is a typical PYTHONPATH from a Windows system −

set PYTHONPATH = c:\python20\lib;

And here is a typical PYTHONPATH from a UNIX system −

set PYTHONPATH = /usr/local/lib/python
Published on 30-Jan-2020 10:58:14