Basic installation

pikepdf latest released version on PyPI

Most users on Linux, macOS or Windows with x64 systems should use pip to install pikepdf in their current Python environment (such as your project’s virtual environment).

pip install pikepdf

Use pip install --user pikepdf to install the package for the current user only. Use pip install pikepdf to install to a virtual environment.

Binary wheel availability

Python binary wheel availability






PyPy 3.9

PyPy 3.10

macOS Intel

macOS Apple Silicon


Windows x64

manylinux2014 x64

manylinux2014 aarch64 (ARM64)

musllinux x64

musllinux aarch64 (ARM64)

  • ✅ wheels are available

  • ❌ wheels are not likely to be produced for this platform and Python version

  • ⏳ we are waiting on a third party to implement better support for this configuration

  • ⚠️ wheel is released but cannot be tested - use with caution

Binary wheels should work on most systems, provided a recent version of pip is used to install them. Old versions of pip, especially before 20.0, may fail to check appropriate versions.

macOS 10.14 or newer is typically required for binary wheels. Older versions may work if compiled from source.

Windows 7 or newer is required. Windows wheels include a recent copy of libqpdf.

Most Linux distributions support manylinux2014, with the notable except of Alpine Linux, and older Linux distributions that do not have C++17-capable compilers. The Linux wheels include recent copies of libqpdf, libjpeg, and zlib.

Source builds are usually possible where binary wheels are available.

Platform support

Some platforms include versions of pikepdf that are distributed by the system package manager (such as apt). These versions may lag behind the version distributed with PyPI, but may be convenient for users that cannot use binary wheels.

Bento box containing sushi

Packaged fish.

Package status for python:pikepdf

Debian, Ubuntu and other APT-based distributions

apt install pikepdf


Fedora Rawhide

dnf install python-pikepdf

Alpine Linux

Alpine Linux Edge

apk add py3-pikepdf

Installing on FreeBSD

pkg install py38-pikepdf

To attempt a manual install, try something like:

pkg install python3 py38-lxml py38-pip py38-pybind11 qpdf
pip install --user pikepdf

This procedure is known to work on FreeBSD 11.3, 12.0, 12.1-RELEASE and 13.0-CURRENT. It has not been tested on other versions.

Building from source


pikepdf requires:

  • a C++17 compliant compiler - roughly GCC 7+, clang 6+, or MSVC 19+

  • pybind11

  • libqpdf 11.5.0 or higher from the QPDF project.

On Linux the library and headers for libqpdf must be installed because pikepdf compiles code against it and links to it.

Check Repology for QPDF to see if a recent version of QPDF is available for your platform. Otherwise you must build QPDF from source. (Consider using the binary wheels, which bundle the required version of libqpdf.)


pikepdf should be built with the same compiler and linker as libqpdf; to be precise both must use the same C++ ABI. On some platforms, may not pick the correct compiler so one may need to set environment variables CC and CXX to redirect it. If the wrong compiler is selected, import pikepdf._core will throw an ImportError about a missing symbol.

GCC or Clang, linking to system libraries

To link to system libraries (the ones installed by your package manager, such apt, brew or dnf:

  • Clone the pikepdf repository

  • Install libjpeg, zlib and libqpdf on your platform, including headers

  • If desired, activate a virtual environment

  • Run pip install .

GCC or Clang and linking to user libraries

setuptools will normally attempt to link against your system libraries. If you wish to link pikepdf against a different version of the QPDF (say, because pikepdf requires a newer version than your operating system has), then you might do something like:

  • Install the development headers for libjpeg and zlib (e.g. apt install libjpeg-dev)

  • Build qpdf from source and run cmake --install to install it to /usr/local

  • Clone the pikepdf repository

  • From the pikepdf directory, run

    env CXXFLAGS=-I/usr/local/include/libqpdf LDFLAGS=-L/usr/local/lib  \
        pip install .

On Windows (requires Visual Studio 2015)

pikepdf requires a C++17 compliant compiler (i.e. Visual Studio 2015 on Windows). See our continuous integration build script in .appveyor.yml for detailed and current instructions. Or use the wheels which save this pain.

These instructions require the precompiled binary qpdf.dll. See the QPDF documentation if you also need to build this DLL from source. Both should be built with the same compiler. You may not mix and match MinGW and Visual C++ for example.

Running a regular pip install command will detect the version of the compiler used to build Python and attempt to build the extension with it. We must force the use of Visual Studio 2015.

  • Clone this repository.

  • In a command prompt, run:

    %VS140COMNTOOLS%\..\..\VC\vcvarsall.bat" x64
    set MSSdk=1
  • Download from the QPDF releases page.

  • Extract bin\*.dll (all the DLLs, both QPDF’s and the Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime library) from the zip file above, and copy it to the src/pikepdf folder in the repository.

  • Run pip install . in the root directory of the repository.


The user compiling pikepdf to must have registry editing rights on the machine to be able to run the vcvarsall.bat script.

Building against a QPDF source tree

Follow these steps to build pikepdf against a different version of QPDF, rather than the one provided with your operating system. This may be useful if you need a more recent version of QPDF than your operating system package manager provides, and you do not want to use Python wheels.

# Build libqpdf from source
cmake --build build --parallel --target libqpdf

# Build pikepdf against the custom libqpdf
    pip install -e .

Note that the Python wheels for pikepdf currently compile their own version of QPDF and several of its dependencies to ensure the wheels have the latest version. You can also refer to the GitHub Actions YAML files for build steps.

Building the documentation

Documentation is generated using Sphinx and you are currently reading it. To regenerate it:

pip install pikepdf[docs]
cd docs
make html

PyPy3 support

PyPy3 is supported in certain configurations as listed in the binary wheel availability table above.

PyPy3 is not more performant than CPython for pikepdf, because the core of pikepdf is already written in C++. The benefit is for applications that want to use PyPy for improved performance of native Python and also want to use pikepdf.