PyInstaller – Distributing Python Code

PyInstaller – Distributing Python Code is another useful function of programming language. This guide covers all you need to know about it.

PyInstaller – Distributing Python Code: Installation and Setup

Pyinstaller is a normal python package. It can be installed using pip:

pip install pyinstaller

Installation in Windows

For Windows, pywin32 or pypiwin32 is a prerequisite. The latter is installed automatically when pyinstaller is installed using pip.

Installation in Mac OS X

PyInstaller works with the default Python 2.7 provided with current Mac OS X. If later versions of Python are to be used or if any major packages such as PyQT, Numpy, Matplotlib and the like are to be used, it is recommended to install them using either MacPorts or Homebrew.

Installing from the archive

If pip is not available, download the compressed archive from PyPI.

To test the development version, download the compressed archive from the develop branch of PyInstaller Downloads page.

Expand the archive and find the script. Execute python install with administrator privilege to install or upgrade PyInstaller.

Verifying the installation

The command pyinstaller should exist on the system path for all platforms after a successful installation.

Verify it by typing pyinstaller –version in the command line. This will print the current version of pyinstaller.

Using Pyinstaller

In the simplest use-case, just navigate to the directory your file is in, and type:


Pyinstaller analyzes the file and creates:

A myfile.spec file in the same directory as
A build folder in the same directory as
A dist folder in the same directory as
Log files in the build folder
The bundled app can be found in the dist folder


There are several options that can be used with pyinstaller. A full list of the options can be found here.

Once bundled your app can be run by opening ‘dist\myfile\myfile.exe’.

PyInstaller – Distributing Python Code: Bundling to One Folder

When PyInstaller is used without any options to bundle , the default output is a single folder (named myscript) containing an executable named myscript (myscript.exe in windows) along with all the necessary dependencies.

The app can be distributed by compressing the folder into a zip file.

One Folder mode can be explicitly set using the option -D or --onedir
pyinstaller -D


One of the major advantages of bundling to a single folder is that it is easier to debug problems. If any modules fail to import, it can be verified by inspecting the folder.

Another advantage is felt during updates. If there are a few changes in the code but the dependencies used are exactly the same, distributors can just ship the executable file (which is typically smaller than the entire folder).


The only disadvantage of this method is that the users have to search for the executable among a large number of files.

Also users can delete/modify other files which might lead to the app not being able to work correctly.

Bundling to a Single File

pyinstaller -F
The options to generate a single file are -F or --onefile. This bundles the program into a single myscript.exe file.

Single file executable are slower than the one-folder bundle. They are also harder to debug.

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