Managing environments

Managing environments #

Poetry makes project environment isolation one of its core features.

What this means is that it will always work isolated from your global Python installation. To achieve this, it will first check if it’s currently running inside a virtual environment. If it is, it will use it directly without creating a new one. But if it’s not, it will use one that it has already created or create a brand new one for you.

By default, Poetry will try to use the currently activated Python version to create the virtual environment for the current project.

However, for various reasons, this Python version might not be compatible with the python requirement of the project. In this case, Poetry will try to find one that is and use it. If it’s unable to do so then you will be prompted to activate one explicitly, see Switching environments.


To easily switch between Python versions, it is recommended to use pyenv or similar tools.

For instance, if your project is Python 2.7 only, a standard workflow would be:

pyenv install 2.7.15
pyenv local 2.7.15  # Activate Python 2.7 for the current project
poetry install

Switching between environments #

Sometimes this might not be feasible for your system, especially Windows where pyenv is not available, or you simply prefer to have a more explicit control over your environment. For this specific purpose, you can use the env use command to tell Poetry which Python version to use for the current project.

poetry env use /full/path/to/python

If you have the python executable in your PATH you can use it:

poetry env use python3.7

You can even just use the minor Python version in this case:

poetry env use 3.7

If you want to disable the explicitly activated virtual environment, you can use the special system Python version to retrieve the default behavior:

poetry env use system

Displaying the environment information #

If you want to get basic information about the currently activated virtual environment, you can use the env info command:

poetry env info

will output something similar to this:

Virtual environment
Python:         3.7.1
Implementation: CPython
Path:           /path/to/poetry/cache/virtualenvs/test-O3eWbxRl-py3.7
Valid:          True

Platform: darwin
OS:       posix
Python:   /path/to/main/python

If you only want to know the path to the virtual environment, you can pass the --path option to env info:

poetry env info --path

Listing the environments associated with the project #

You can also list all the virtual environments associated with the current project with the env list command:

poetry env list

will output something like the following:

test-O3eWbxRl-py3.7 (Activated)

Deleting the environments #

Finally, you can delete existing virtual environments by using env remove:

poetry env remove /full/path/to/python
poetry env remove python3.7
poetry env remove 3.7
poetry env remove test-O3eWbxRl-py3.7

If you remove the currently activated virtual environment, it will be automatically deactivated.