IPYTHON(1) General Commands Manual IPYTHON(1)
ipython - An Enhanced Interactive Python
ipython [options] files...
An interactive Python shell with automatic history (input and output), dynamic object introspection, easier configuration, command comple-
tion, access to the system shell, integration with numerical and scientific computing tools, and more.
SPECIAL THREADING OPTIONS
The following special options are ONLY valid at the beginning of the command line, and not later. This is because they control the ini-
tialization of ipython itself, before the normal option-handling mechanism is active.
-gthread, -qthread, -q4thread, -wthread, -pylab
Only ONE of these can be given, and it can only be given as the first option passed to IPython (it will have no effect in any other
position). They provide threading support for the GTK, QT3, QT4 and WXWidgets toolkits, for the matplotlib library and Twisted
With any of the first four options, IPython starts running a separate thread for the graphical toolkit's operation, so that you can
open and control graphical elements from within an IPython command line, without blocking. All four provide essentially the same
functionality, respectively for GTK, QT3, QT4 and WXWidgets (via their Python interfaces).
Note that with -wthread, you can additionally use the -wxversion option to request a specific version of wx to be used. This
requires that you have the wxversion Python module installed, which is part of recent wxPython distributions.
If -pylab is given, IPython loads special support for the matplotlib library (http://matplotlib.sourceforge.net), allowing interac-
tive usage of any of its backends as defined in the user's .matplotlibrc file. It automatically activates GTK, QT or WX threading
for IPyhton if the choice of matplotlib backend requires it. It also modifies the %run command to correctly execute (without block-
ing) any matplotlib-based script which calls show() at the end.
-tk The -g/q/q4/wthread options, and -pylab (if matplotlib is configured to use GTK, QT or WX), will normally block Tk graphical inter-
faces. This means that when GTK, QT or WX threading is active, any attempt to open a Tk GUI will result in a dead window, and pos-
sibly cause the Python interpreter to crash. An extra option, -tk, is available to address this issue. It can ONLY be given as a
SECOND option after any of the above (-gthread, -qthread, -wthread or -pylab).
If -tk is given, IPython will try to coordinate Tk threading with GTK, QT or WX. This is however potentially unreliable, and you
will have to test on your platform and Python configuration to determine whether it works for you. Debian users have reported suc-
cess, apparently due to the fact that Debian builds all of Tcl, Tk, Tkinter and Python with pthreads support. Under other Linux
environments (such as Fedora Core 2), this option has caused random crashes and lockups of the Python interpreter. Under other
operating systems (Mac OSX and Windows), you'll need to try it to find out, since currently no user reports are available.
There is unfortunately no way for IPython to determine at runtime whether -tk will work reliably or not, so you will need to do some
experiments before relying on it for regular work.
After the above threading options have been given, regular options can follow in any order. All options can be abbreviated to their short-
est non-ambiguous form and are case-sensitive. One or two dashes can be used. Some options have an alternate short form, indicated after
Most options can also be set from your ipythonrc configuration file. See the provided examples for assistance. Options given on the com-
mandline override the values set in the ipythonrc file.
All options with a [no] prepended can be specified in negated form (-nooption instead of -option) to turn the feature off.
Show summary of options.
Make IPython automatically call any callable object even if you didn't type explicit parentheses. For example, 'str 43' becomes
str(43) automatically. The value can be '0' to disable the feature, '1' for 'smart' autocall, where it is not applied if there are
no more arguments on the line, and '2' for 'full' autocall, where all callable objects are automatically called (even if no argu-
ments are present). The default is '1'.
Turn automatic indentation on/off.
Make magic commands automatic (without needing their first character to be %). Type %magic at the IPython prompt for more informa-
When a syntax error occurs after editing a file, automatically open the file to the trouble causing line for convenient fixing.
Print the intial information banner (default on).
Execute the given command string, and set sys.argv to ['c']. This is similar to the -c option in the normal Python interpreter.
Size of the output cache (maximum number of entries to hold in memory). The default is 1000, you can change it permanently in your
config file. Setting it to 0 completely disables the caching system, and the minimum value accepted is 20 (if you provide a value
less than 20, it is reset to 0 and a warning is issued). This limit is defined because otherwise you'll spend more time re-flushing
a too small cache than working.
Gives IPython a similar feel to the classic Python prompt.
Color scheme for prompts and exception reporting. Currently implemented: NoColor, Linux, and LightBG.
IPython can display information about objects via a set of functions, and optionally can use colors for this, syntax highlighting
source code and various other elements. However, because this information is passed through a pager (like 'less') and many pagers
get confused with color codes, this option is off by default. You can test it and turn it on permanently in your ipythonrc file if
it works for you. As a reference, the 'less' pager supplied with Mandrake 8.2 works ok, but that in RedHat 7.2 doesn't.
Test it and turn it on permanently if it works with your system. The magic function @color_info allows you to toggle this interac-
tively for testing.
Set to confirm when you try to exit IPython with an EOF (Control-D in Unix, Control-Z/Enter in Windows). Note that using the magic
functions @Exit or @Quit you can force a direct exit, bypassing any confirmation.
Show information about the loading process. Very useful to pin down problems with your configuration files or to get details about
IPython can use the deep_reload module which reloads changes in modules recursively (it replaces the reload() function, so you don't
need to change anything to use it). deep_reload() forces a full reload of modules whose code may have changed, which the default
reload() function does not.
When deep_reload is off, IPython will use the normal reload(), but deep_reload will still be available as dreload(). This feature is
off by default [which means that you have both normal reload() and dreload()].
Which editor to use with the @edit command. By default, IPython will honor your EDITOR environment variable (if not set, vi is the
Unix default and notepad the Windows one). Since this editor is invoked on the fly by IPython and is meant for editing small code
snippets, you may want to use a small, lightweight editor here (in case your default EDITOR is something like Emacs).
The name of your IPython configuration directory IPYTHONDIR. This can also be specified through the environment variable
-log|l Generate a log file of all input. The file is named ipython_log.py in your current directory (which prevents logs from multiple
IPython sessions from trampling each other). You can use this to later restore a session by loading your logfile as a file to be
executed with option -logplay (see below).
Specify the name of your logfile.
Replay a previous log. For restoring a session as close as possible to the state you left it in, use this option (don't just run the
logfile). With -logplay, IPython will try to reconstruct the previous working environment in full, not just execute the commands in
When a session is restored, logging is automatically turned on again with the name of the logfile it was invoked with (it is read
from the log header). So once you've turned logging on for a session, you can quit IPython and reload it as many times as you want
and it will continue to log its history and restore from the beginning every time.
Caveats: there are limitations in this option. The history variables _i*,_* and _dh don't get restored properly. In the future we
will try to implement full session saving by writing and retrieving a snapshot of the memory state of IPython. But our first
attempts failed because of inherent limitations of Python's Pickle module, so this may have to wait.
Print messages which IPython collects about its startup process (default on).
Automatically call the pdb debugger after every uncaught exception. If you are used to debugging using pdb, this puts you automati-
cally inside of it after any call (either in IPython or in code called by it) which triggers an exception which goes uncaught.
-pydb Makes IPython use the third party "pydb" package as debugger, instead of pdb. Requires that pydb is installed.
IPython can optionally use the pprint (pretty printer) module for displaying results. pprint tends to give a nicer display of nested
data structures. If you like it, you can turn it on permanently in your config file (default off).
Assume that your config file is ipythonrc-<name> (looks in current dir first, then in IPYTHONDIR). This is a quick way to keep and
load multiple config files for different tasks, especially if you use the include option of config files. You can keep a basic
IPYTHONDIR/ipythonrc file and then have other 'profiles' which include this one and load extra things for particular tasks. For
1) $HOME/.ipython/ipythonrc : load basic things you always want.
2) $HOME/.ipython/ipythonrc-math : load(1) and basic math-related modules.
3) $HOME/.ipython/ipythonrc-numeric : load(1) and Numeric and plotting modules.
Since it is possible to create an endless loop by having circular file inclusions, IPython will stop if it reaches 15 recursive
Specify the string used for input prompts. Note that if you are using numbered prompts, the number is represented with a '#' in the
string. Don't forget to quote strings with spaces embedded in them. Default: 'In [#]: '.
Most bash-like escapes can be used to customize IPython's prompts, as well as a few additional ones which are IPython-specific. All
valid prompt escapes are described in detail in the Customization section of the IPython HTML/PDF manual.
Similar to the previous option, but used for the continuation prompts. The special sequence 'D' is similar to '#', but with all
digits replaced dots (so you can have your continuation prompt aligned with your input prompt). Default: ' .D.: ' (note three
spaces at the start for alignment with 'In [#]').
String used for output prompts, also uses numbers like prompt_in1. Default: 'Out[#]:'.
-quick Start in bare bones mode (no config file loaded).
Name of your IPython resource configuration file. normally IPython loads ipythonrc (from current directory) or
IPYTHONDIR/ipythonrc. If the loading of your config file fails, IPython starts with a bare bones configuration (no modules loaded
Use the readline library, which is needed to support name completion and command history, among other things. It is enabled by
default, but may cause problems for users of X/Emacs in Python comint or shell buffers.
Note that emacs 'eterm' buffers (opened with M-x term) support IPython's readline and syntax coloring fine, only 'emacs' (M-x shell
and C-c !) buffers do not.
Number of lines of your screen. This is used to control printing of very long strings. Strings longer than this number of lines
will be sent through a pager instead of directly printed.
The default value for this is 0, which means IPython will auto-detect your screen size every time it needs to print certain poten-
tially long strings (this doesn't change the behavior of the 'print' keyword, it's only triggered internally). If for some reason
this isn't working well (it needs curses support), specify it yourself. Otherwise don't change the default.
Separator before input prompts. Default '0.
Separator before output prompts. Default: 0 (nothing).
Separator after output prompts. Default: 0 (nothing).
-nosep Shorthand for '-separate_in 0 -separate_out 0 -separate_out2 0'. Simply removes all input/output separators.
Allows you to upgrade your IPYTHONDIR configuration when you install a new version of IPython. Since new versions may include new
command lines options or example files, this copies updated ipythonrc-type files. However, it backs up (with a .old extension) all
files which it overwrites so that you can merge back any custimizations you might have in your personal files.
Print version information and exit.
Select a specific version of wxPython (used in conjunction with -wthread). Requires the wxversion module, part of recent wxPython
Mode for exception reporting. The valid modes are Plain, Context, and Verbose.
- Plain: similar to python's normal traceback printing.
- Context: prints 5 lines of context source code around each line in the traceback.
- Verbose: similar to Context, but additionally prints the variables currently visible where the exception happened (shortening
their strings if too long). This can potentially be very slow, if you happen to have a huge data structure whose string representa-
tion is complex to compute. Your computer may appear to freeze for a while with cpu usage at 100%. If this occurs, you can cancel
the traceback with Ctrl-C (maybe hitting it more than once).
It is possible to start an IPython instance inside your own Python programs. In the documentation example files there are some illustra-
tions on how to do this.
This feature allows you to evalutate dynamically the state of your code, operate with your variables, analyze them, etc. Note however that
any changes you make to values while in the shell do NOT propagate back to the running code, so it is safe to modify your values because
you won't break your code in bizarre ways by doing so.
IPython was written by Fernando Perez <email@example.com>, based on earlier code by Janko Hauser <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Nathaniel Gray
<email@example.com>. This manual page was written by Jack Moffitt <firstname.lastname@example.org>, for the Debian project (but may be used by others).
November 30, 2004 IPYTHON(1)