Running mypy and managing imports¶
The Getting started page should have already introduced you to the basics of how to run mypy – pass in the files and directories you want to type check via the command line:
$ mypy foo.py bar.py some_directory
This page discusses in more detail how exactly to specify what files you want mypy to type check, how mypy discovers imported modules, and recommendations on how to handle any issues you may encounter along the way.
If you are interested in learning about how to configure the actual way mypy type checks your code, see our The mypy command line guide.
Specifying code to be checked¶
Mypy lets you specify what files it should type check in several different ways.
Note that if you use namespace packages (in particular, packages without
__init__.py), you’ll need to specify
First, you can pass in paths to Python files and directories you want to type check. For example:
$ mypy file_1.py foo/file_2.py file_3.pyi some/directory
The above command tells mypy it should type check all of the provided files together. In addition, mypy will recursively type check the entire contents of any provided directories.
For more details about how exactly this is done, see Mapping file paths to modules.
Second, you can use the
-mflag (long form:
--module) to specify a module name to be type checked. The name of a module is identical to the name you would use to import that module within a Python program. For example, running:
$ mypy -m html.parser
…will type check the module
html.parser(this happens to be a library stub).
Mypy will use an algorithm very similar to the one Python uses to find where modules and imports are located on the file system. For more details, see How imports are found.
Third, you can use the
--package) flag to specify a package to be (recursively) type checked. This flag is almost identical to the
-mflag except that if you give it a package name, mypy will recursively type check all submodules and subpackages of that package. For example, running:
$ mypy -p html
…will type check the entire
htmlpackage (of library stubs). In contrast, if we had used the
-mflag, mypy would have type checked just
__init__.pyfile and anything imported from there.
Note that we can specify multiple packages and modules on the command line. For example:
$ mypy --package p.a --package p.b --module c
$ mypy -c 'x = [1, 2]; print(x())'
…will type check the above string as a mini-program (and in this case, will report that
List[int]is not callable).
Reading a list of files from a file¶
Finally, any command-line argument starting with
@ reads additional
command-line arguments from the file following the
This is primarily useful if you have a file containing a list of files
that you want to be type-checked: instead of using shell syntax like:
$ mypy $(cat file_of_files.txt)
you can use this instead:
$ mypy @file_of_files.txt
This file can technically also contain any command line flag, not just file paths. However, if you want to configure many different flags, the recommended approach is to use a configuration file instead.
How mypy handles imports¶
When mypy encounters an
import statement, it will first
attempt to locate that module
or type stubs for that module in the file system. Mypy will then
type check the imported module. There are three different outcomes
of this process:
- Mypy is unable to follow the import: the module either does not exist, or is a third party library that does not use type hints.
- Mypy is able to follow and type check the import, but you did not want mypy to type check that module at all.
- Mypy is able to successfully both follow and type check the module, and you want mypy to type check that module.
The third outcome is what mypy will do in the ideal case. The following sections will discuss what to do in the other two cases.
When you import a module, mypy may report that it is unable to follow the import.
This can cause errors that look like the following:
main.py:1: error: Library stubs not installed for "requests" (or incompatible with Python 3.8) main.py:2: error: Skipping analyzing 'django': found module but no type hints or library stubs main.py:3: error: Cannot find implementation or library stub for module named "this_module_does_not_exist"
If you get any of these errors on an import, mypy will assume the type of that
Any, the dynamic type. This means attempting to access any
attribute of the module will automatically succeed:
# Error: Cannot find implementation or library stub for module named 'does_not_exist' import does_not_exist # But this type checks, and x will have type 'Any' x = does_not_exist.foobar()
The next sections describe what each error means and recommended next steps.
Library stubs not installed¶
If mypy can’t find stubs for a third-party library, and it knows that stubs exist for the library, you will get a message like this:
main.py:1: error: Library stubs not installed for "yaml" (or incompatible with Python 3.8) main.py:1: note: Hint: "python3 -m pip install types-PyYAML" main.py:1: note: (or run "mypy --install-types" to install all missing stub packages)
You can resolve the issue by running the suggested pip command or
commands. Alternatively, you can use
--install-types to install all known missing stubs:
This installs any stub packages that were suggested in the previous
mypy run. You can also use your normal mypy command line with the
--install-types option to
install missing stubs at the end of the run (if any were found).
You can also get this message if the stubs only support Python 3 and your target Python version is Python 2, or vice versa. In this case follow instructions in Missing type hints for third party library.
Missing type hints for third party library¶
If you are getting a “Skipping analyzing X: found module but no type hints or library stubs”, error, this means mypy was able to find the module you were importing, but no corresponding type hints.
Mypy will not try inferring the types of any 3rd party libraries you have installed
unless they either have declared themselves to be
PEP 561 compliant stub package (e.g. with a
py.typed file) or have registered
themselves on typeshed, the repository
of types for the standard library and some 3rd party libraries.
If you are getting this error, try:
Upgrading the version of the library you’re using, in case a newer version has started to include type hints.
Searching to see if there is a PEP 561 compliant stub package. corresponding to your third party library. Stub packages let you install type hints independently from the library itself.
For example, if you want type hints for the
djangolibrary, you can install the django-stubs package.
Writing your own stub files containing type hints for the library. You can point mypy at your type hints either by passing them in via the command line, by using the
mypy_pathconfig file options, or by adding the location to the
These stub files do not need to be complete! A good strategy is to use stubgen, a program that comes bundled with mypy, to generate a first rough draft of the stubs. You can then iterate on just the parts of the library you need.
If you want to share your work, you can try contributing your stubs back to the library – see our documentation on creating PEP 561 compliant packages.
If you are unable to find any existing type hints nor have time to write your
own, you can instead suppress the errors. All this will do is make mypy stop
reporting an error on the line containing the import: the imported module
will continue to be of type
To suppress a single missing import error, add a
# type: ignoreat the end of the line containing the import.
To suppress all missing import imports errors from a single library, add a section to your mypy config file for that library setting
ignore_missing_importsto True. For example, suppose your codebase makes heavy use of an (untyped) library named
foobar. You can silence all import errors associated with that library and that library alone by adding the following section to your config file:
[mypy-foobar.*] ignore_missing_imports = True
Note: this option is equivalent to adding a
# type: ignoreto every import of
foobarin your codebase. For more information, see the documentation about configuring import discovery in config files. The
foobarwill ignore imports of
foobarmodules and subpackages in addition to the
foobartop-level package namespace.
To suppress all missing import errors for all libraries in your codebase, invoke mypy with the
--ignore-missing-importscommand line flag or set the
ignore_missing_importsconfig file option to True in the global section of your mypy config file:
[mypy] ignore_missing_imports = True
We recommend using this approach only as a last resort: it’s equivalent to adding a
# type: ignoreto all unresolved imports in your codebase.
Unable to find module¶
If you are getting a “Cannot find implementation or library stub for module” error, this means mypy was not able to find the module you are trying to import, whether it comes bundled with type hints or not. If you are getting this error, try:
Making sure your import does not contain a typo.
If the module is a third party library, making sure that mypy is able to find the interpreter containing the installed library.
For example, if you are running your code in a virtualenv, make sure to install and use mypy within the virtualenv. Alternatively, if you want to use a globally installed mypy, set the
--python-executablecommand line flag to point the Python interpreter containing your installed third party packages.
Reading the How imports are found section below to make sure you understand how exactly mypy searches for and finds modules and modify how you’re invoking mypy accordingly.
Directly specifying the directory containing the module you want to type check from the command line, by using the
filesconfig file options, or by using the
Note: if the module you are trying to import is actually a submodule of some package, you should specific the directory containing the entire package. For example, suppose you are trying to add the module
foo.bar.bazwhich is located at
~/foo-project/src/foo/bar/baz.py. In this case, you must run
mypy ~/foo-project/src(or set the
If you are using namespace packages – packages which do not contain
__init__.pyfiles within each subfolder – using the
--namespace-packagescommand line flag.
In some rare cases, you may get the “Cannot find implementation or library stub for module” error even when the module is installed in your system. This can happen when the module is both missing type hints and is installed on your system in a unconventional way.
In this case, follow the steps above on how to handle missing type hints in third party libraries.
Mypy is designed to doggedly follow all imports, even if the imported module is not a file you explicitly wanted mypy to check.
For example, suppose we have two modules
the former has type hints and the latter does not. We run
mypy -m mycode.foo and mypy discovers that
How do we want mypy to type check
mycode.bar? Mypy’s behaviour here is
configurable – although we strongly recommend using the default –
by using the
--follow-imports flag. This flag
accepts one of four string values:
normal(the default, recommended) follows all imports normally and type checks all top level code (as well as the bodies of all functions and methods with at least one type annotation in the signature).
silentbehaves in the same way as
normalbut will additionally suppress any error messages.
skipwill not follow imports and instead will silently replace the module (and anything imported from it) with an object of type
errorbehaves in the same way as
skipbut is not quite as silent – it will flag the import as an error, like this:
main.py:1: note: Import of 'mycode.bar' ignored main.py:1: note: (Using --follow-imports=error, module not passed on command line)
If you are starting a new codebase and plan on using type hints from
the start, we recommend you use either
(the default) or
--follow-imports=error. Either option will help
make sure you are not skipping checking any part of your codebase by
If you are planning on adding type hints to a large, existing code base,
we recommend you start by trying to make your entire codebase (including
files that do not use type hints) pass under
This is usually not too difficult to do: mypy is designed to report as
few error messages as possible when it is looking at unannotated code.
Only if doing this is intractable, we recommend passing mypy just the files
you want to type check and use
--follow-imports=silent. Even if
mypy is unable to perfectly type check a file, it can still glean some
useful information by parsing it (for example, understanding what methods
a given object has). See Using mypy with an existing codebase for more recommendations.
We do not recommend using
skip unless you know what you are doing:
while this option can be quite powerful, it can also cause many
Mapping file paths to modules¶
One of the main ways you can tell mypy what to type check is by providing mypy a list of paths. For example:
$ mypy file_1.py foo/file_2.py file_3.pyi some/directory
This section describes how exactly mypy maps the provided paths to modules to type check.
- Mypy will check all paths provided that correspond to files.
- Mypy will recursively discover and check all files ending in
.pyiin directory paths provided, after accounting for
- For each file to be checked, mypy will attempt to associate the file (e.g.
project/foo/bar/baz.py) with a fully qualified module name (e.g.
foo.bar.baz). The directory the package is in (
project) is then added to mypy’s module search paths.
--namespace-packagesis off, mypy will rely solely upon the presence of
__init__.py[i]files to determine the fully qualified module name. That is, mypy will crawl up the directory tree for as long as it continues to find
For example, if your directory tree consists of
pkg/subpkg/mod.py, mypy would require
pkg/subpkg/__init__.pyto exist in order correctly associate
--namespace-packagesis on, but
--explicit-package-basesis off, mypy will allow for the possibility that directories without
__init__.py[i]are packages. Specifically, mypy will look at all parent directories of the file and use the location of the highest
__init__.py[i]in the directory tree to determine the top-level package.
For example, say your directory tree consists solely of
pkg/a/b/c/d/mod.py. When determining
mod.py’s fully qualified module name, mypy will look at
pkg/__init__.pyand conclude that the associated module name is
You’ll notice that the above case still relies on
__init__.py. If you can’t put an
__init__.pyin your top-level package, but still wish to pass paths (as opposed to packages or modules using the
--explicit-package-basesprovides a solution.
--explicit-package-bases, mypy will locate the nearest parent directory that is a member of the
MYPYPATHenvironment variable, the
mypy_pathconfig or is the current working directory. Mypy will then use the relative path to determine the fully qualified module name.
For example, say your directory tree consists solely of
src/namespace_pkg/mod.py. If you run the command following command, mypy will correctly associate
$ MYPYPATH=src mypy --namespace-packages --explicit-package-bases .
If you pass a file not ending in
.py[i], the module name assumed is
__main__ (matching the behavior of the Python interpreter), unless
--scripts-are-modules is passed.
-v will show you the files and associated module
names that mypy will check.
How imports are found¶
When mypy encounters an
import statement or receives module
names from the command line via the
flags, mypy tries to find the module on the file system similar
to the way Python finds it. However, there are some differences.
First, mypy has its own search path. This is computed from the following items:
MYPYPATHenvironment variable (a colon-separated list of directories).
mypy_pathconfig file option.
- The directories containing the sources given on the command line (see Mapping file paths to modules).
- The installed packages marked as safe for type checking (see PEP 561 support)
- The relevant directories of the typeshed repo.
Second, mypy searches for stub files in addition to regular Python files
The rules for searching for a module
foo are as follows:
- The search looks in each of the directories in the search path (see above) until a match is found.
- If a package named
foois found (i.e. a directory
__init__.pyifile) that’s a match.
- If a stub file named
foo.pyiis found, that’s a match.
- If a Python module named
foo.pyis found, that’s a match.
These matches are tried in order, so that if multiple matches are found in the same directory on the search path (e.g. a package and a Python file, or a stub file and a Python file) the first one in the above list wins.
In particular, if a Python file and a stub file are both present in the same directory on the search path, only the stub file is used. (However, if the files are in different directories, the one found in the earlier directory is used.)
Other advice and best practices¶
There are multiple ways of telling mypy what files to type check, ranging
from passing in command line arguments to using the
config file options to setting the
MYPYPATH environment variable.
However, in practice, it is usually sufficient to just use either
command line arguments or the
files config file option (the two
are largely interchangeable).
MYPYPATH is mostly useful in the case
where you want to try running mypy against multiple distinct
sets of files that happen to share some common dependencies.
For example, if you have multiple projects that happen to be
using the same set of work-in-progress stubs, it could be
convenient to just have your
MYPYPATH point to a single
directory containing the stubs.