What is the correct way to provide Mathematica with a path to Python user scripts?

Simply executing Python as a shell command, using something like

usefulOutput = Import["!python -c 'import mypkg; mypkg.use()'", "Text"];

fails, because Mathematica — like many IDEs and Python launchers — has no access to (or at least ignores) PYTHONPATH or any sys.path.append in 'shell_config.py'. I seem to be able to Run shell scripts without errors, but that's not what I'm looking fore here.

Does Mathematica provide a setting for extending python.path or is there a related directory setting in Mathematica that would result in my scripts being found?

  • $\begingroup$ stackoverflow.com/questions/19917492/how-to-use-pythonpath possibly useful to you or others trying to help $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ look at os.environ to see what you are getting.. $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @george2079: Sorry, my example was terrible. Fixed. $\endgroup$
    – orome
    Commented Feb 1, 2014 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


This may be useful..:

Prior to launching mathematica from a linux bash shell:

> export NEWENV
> mathematica

Now in the notebook:

 env = Import["!python -c 'import os;print os.environ'","Text"]

returns the whole environment as one big string. Now find the one I just made up..

Select[First@ImportString[StringTake[env,{2,-2}],"CSV",StringMatchQ[#,"*NEWENV*"]& ]



Use the same approach to see if PYTHONPATH is even set.

You can also set an environment variable on the fly like this:

Import["!NEWENV=XX\nexport NEWENV\npython ... ","Text"]

Note that mathematica seems to launch a bourne or bash shell even if launched from some other shell.


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