Find Python interpreter, compiler and development environment (include directories and libraries).

The following components are supported:

  • Interpreter: search for Python interpreter.

  • Compiler: search for Python compiler. Only offered by IronPython.

  • Development: search for development artifacts (include directories and libraries). This component includes two sub-components which can be specified independently:

    • Development.Module: search for artifacts for Python module developments.

    • Development.Embed: search for artifacts for Python embedding developments.

  • NumPy: search for NumPy include directories.

If no COMPONENTS are specified, Interpreter is assumed.

If component Development is specified, it implies sub-components Development.Module and Development.Embed.

To ensure consistent versions between components Interpreter, Compiler, Development (or one of its sub-components) and NumPy, specify all components at the same time:

find_package (Python COMPONENTS Interpreter Development)

This module looks preferably for version 3 of Python. If not found, version 2 is searched. To manage concurrent versions 3 and 2 of Python, use FindPython3 and FindPython2 modules rather than this one.


If components Interpreter and Development (or one of its sub-components) are both specified, this module search only for interpreter with same platform architecture as the one defined by CMake configuration. This contraint does not apply if only Interpreter component is specified.

Imported Targets

This module defines the following Imported Targets (when CMAKE_ROLE is PROJECT):


Python interpreter. Target defined if component Interpreter is found.


Python compiler. Target defined if component Compiler is found.


Python library for Python module. Target defined if component Development.Module is found.


Python library for Python embedding. Target defined if component Development.Embed is found.


NumPy Python library. Target defined if component NumPy is found.

Result Variables

This module will set the following variables in your project (see Standard Variable Names):


System has the Python requested components.


System has the Python interpreter.


Path to the Python interpreter.

A short string unique to the interpreter. Possible values include:
  • Python

  • ActivePython

  • Anaconda

  • Canopy

  • IronPython

  • PyPy


Standard platform independent installation directory.

Information returned by distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib(plat_specific=False,standard_lib=True) or else sysconfig.get_path('stdlib').


Standard platform dependent installation directory.

Information returned by distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib(plat_specific=True,standard_lib=True) or else sysconfig.get_path('platstdlib').


Third-party platform independent installation directory.

Information returned by distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib(plat_specific=False,standard_lib=False) or else sysconfig.get_path('purelib').


Third-party platform dependent installation directory.

Information returned by distutils.sysconfig.get_python_lib(plat_specific=True,standard_lib=False) or else sysconfig.get_path('platlib').


Extension suffix for modules.

Information returned by distutils.sysconfig.get_config_var('SOABI') or computed from distutils.sysconfig.get_config_var('EXT_SUFFIX') or python-config --extension-suffix. If package distutils.sysconfig is not available, sysconfig.get_config_var('SOABI') or sysconfig.get_config_var('EXT_SUFFIX') are used.


System has the Python compiler.


Path to the Python compiler. Only offered by IronPython.

A short string unique to the compiler. Possible values include:
  • IronPython


The .Net interpreter. Only used by IronPython implementation.


System has the Python development artifacts.


System has the Python development artifacts for Python module.


System has the Python development artifacts for Python embedding.


The Python include directories.


The Python libraries.


The Python library directories.


The Python runtime library directories.


Python version.


Python major version.


Python minor version.


Python patch version.


Python PyPy version.


System has the NumPy.


The NumPy include directries.


The NumPy version.



Define the root directory of a Python installation.

  • If not defined, search for shared libraries and static libraries in that order.

  • If set to TRUE, search only for static libraries.

  • If set to FALSE, search only for shared libraries.


This variable defines which ABIs, as defined in PEP 3149, should be searched.


This hint will be honored only when searched for Python version 3.


If Python_FIND_ABI is not defined, any ABI will be searched.

The Python_FIND_ABI variable is a 3-tuple specifying, in that order, pydebug (d), pymalloc (m) and unicode (u) flags. Each element can be set to one of the following:

  • ON: Corresponding flag is selected.

  • OFF: Corresponding flag is not selected.

  • ANY: The two posibilties (ON and OFF) will be searched.

From this 3-tuple, various ABIs will be searched starting from the most specialized to the most general. Moreover, debug versions will be searched after non-debug ones.

For example, if we have:

set (Python_FIND_ABI "ON" "ANY" "ANY")

The following flags combinations will be appended, in that order, to the artifact names: dmu, dm, du, and d.

And to search any possible ABIs:

set (Python_FIND_ABI "ANY" "ANY" "ANY")

The following combinations, in that order, will be used: mu, m, u, <empty>, dmu, dm, du and d.


This hint is useful only on POSIX systems. So, on Windows systems, when Python_FIND_ABI is defined, Python distributions from will be found only if value for each flag is OFF or ANY.


This variable defines how lookup will be done. The Python_FIND_STRATEGY variable can be set to one of the following:

  • VERSION: Try to find the most recent version in all specified locations. This is the default if policy CMP0094 is undefined or set to OLD.

  • LOCATION: Stops lookup as soon as a version satisfying version constraints is founded. This is the default if policy CMP0094 is set to NEW.


On Windows the Python_FIND_REGISTRY variable determine the order of preference between registry and environment variables. the Python_FIND_REGISTRY variable can be set to one of the following:

  • FIRST: Try to use registry before environment variables. This is the default.

  • LAST: Try to use registry after environment variables.

  • NEVER: Never try to use registry.


On macOS the Python_FIND_FRAMEWORK variable determine the order of preference between Apple-style and unix-style package components. This variable can take same values as CMAKE_FIND_FRAMEWORK variable.


Value ONLY is not supported so FIRST will be used instead.

If Python_FIND_FRAMEWORK is not defined, CMAKE_FIND_FRAMEWORK variable will be used, if any.


This variable defines the handling of virtual environments managed by virtualenv or conda. It is meaningful only when a virtual environment is active (i.e. the activate script has been evaluated). In this case, it takes precedence over Python_FIND_REGISTRY and CMAKE_FIND_FRAMEWORK variables. The Python_FIND_VIRTUALENV variable can be set to one of the following:

  • FIRST: The virtual environment is used before any other standard paths to look-up for the interpreter. This is the default.

  • ONLY: Only the virtual environment is used to look-up for the interpreter.

  • STANDARD: The virtual environment is not used to look-up for the interpreter but environment variable PATH is always considered. In this case, variable Python_FIND_REGISTRY (Windows) or CMAKE_FIND_FRAMEWORK (macOS) can be set with value LAST or NEVER to select preferably the interpreter from the virtual environment.


If the component Development is requested, it is strongly recommended to also include the component Interpreter to get expected result.


This variable defines, in an ordered list, the different implementations which will be searched. The Python_FIND_IMPLEMENTATIONS variable can hold the following values:

  • CPython: this is the standard implementation. Various products, like Anaconda or ActivePython, rely on this implementation.

  • IronPython: This implementation use the CSharp language for .NET Framework on top of the Dynamic Language Runtime (DLR). See IronPython.

  • PyPy: This implementation use RPython language and RPython translation toolchain to produce the python interpreter. See PyPy.

The default value is:

  • Windows platform: CPython, IronPython

  • Other platforms: CPython


This hint has the lowest priority of all hints, so even if, for example, you specify IronPython first and CPython in second, a python product based on CPython can be selected because, for example with Python_FIND_STRATEGY=LOCATION, each location will be search first for IronPython and second for CPython.


When IronPython is specified, on platforms other than Windows, the .Net interpreter (i.e. mono command) is expected to be available through the PATH variable.

Artifacts Specification

To solve special cases, it is possible to specify directly the artifacts by setting the following variables:


The path to the interpreter.


The path to the compiler.


The .Net interpreter. Only used by IronPython implementation.


The path to the library. It will be used to compute the variables Python_LIBRARIES, Python_LIBRAY_DIRS and Python_RUNTIME_LIBRARY_DIRS.


The path to the directory of the Python headers. It will be used to compute the variable Python_INCLUDE_DIRS.


The path to the directory of the NumPy headers. It will be used to compute the variable Python_NumPy_INCLUDE_DIRS.


All paths must be absolute. Any artifact specified with a relative path will be ignored.


When an artifact is specified, all HINTS will be ignored and no search will be performed for this artifact.

If more than one artifact is specified, it is the user’s responsability to ensure the consistency of the various artifacts.

By default, this module supports multiple calls in different directories of a project with different version/component requirements while providing correct and consistent results for each call. To support this behavior, CMake cache is not used in the traditional way which can be problematic for interactive specification. So, to enable also interactive specification, module behavior can be controled with the following variable:


Selects the behavior of the module. This is a boolean variable:

  • If set to TRUE: Create CMake cache entries for the above artifact specification variables so that users can edit them interactively. This disables support for multiple version/component requirements.

  • If set to FALSE or undefined: Enable multiple version/component requirements.


This module defines the command Python_add_library (when CMAKE_ROLE is PROJECT), which has the same semantics as add_library() and adds a dependency to target Python::Python or, when library type is MODULE, to target Python::Module and takes care of Python module naming rules:

Python_add_library (<name> [STATIC | SHARED | MODULE [WITH_SOABI]]
                    <source1> [<source2> ...])

If the library type is not specified, MODULE is assumed.

For MODULE library type, if option WITH_SOABI is specified, the module suffix will include the Python_SOABI value, if any.