Installing Sphinx

Since Sphinx is written in the Python language, you need to install Python (the required version is at least 2.6) and Sphinx.

Sphinx packages are available on the Python Package Index.

You can also download a snapshot from the Git repository:

There are introductions for several environments:

Debian/Ubuntu: Install Sphinx using packaging system

You may install using this command if you use Debian/Ubuntu.

$ apt-get install python-sphinx

Other Linux distributions

Most Linux distributions have Sphinx in their package repositories. Usually the package is called “python-sphinx”, “python-Sphinx” or “sphinx”. Be aware that there are two other packages with “sphinx” in their name: a speech recognition toolkit (CMU Sphinx) and a full-text search database (Sphinx search).

Mac OS X: Install Sphinx using MacPorts

If you use Mac OS X MacPorts, use this command to install all necessary software.

$ sudo port install py27-sphinx

To set up the executable paths, use the port select command:

$ sudo port select --set python python27
$ sudo port select --set sphinx py27-sphinx

Type which sphinx-quickstart to check if the installation was successful.

Windows: Install Python and Sphinx

Install Python

Most Windows users do not have Python, so we begin with the installation of Python itself. If you have already installed Python, please skip this section.

Go to, the main download site for Python. Look at the left sidebar and under “Quick Links”, click “Windows Installer” to download.



Currently, Python offers two major versions, 2.x and 3.x. Sphinx 1.3 can run under Python 2.6, 2.7, 3.3, 3.4, with the recommended version being 2.7. This chapter assumes you have installed Python 2.7.

Follow the Windows installer for Python.


After installation, you better add the Python executable directories to the environment variable PATH in order to run Python and package commands such as sphinx-build easily from the Command Prompt.

  • Right-click the “My Computer” icon and choose “Properties”

  • Click the “Environment Variables” button under the “Advanced” tab

  • If “Path” (or “PATH”) is already an entry in the “System variables” list, edit it. If it is not present, add a new variable called “PATH”.

  • Add these paths, separating entries by ”;”:

    • C:\Python27 – this folder contains the main Python executable
    • C:\Python27\Scripts – this folder will contain executables added by Python packages installed with pip (see below)

    This is for Python 2.7. If you use another version of Python or installed to a non-default location, change the digits “27” accordingly.

  • Now run the Command Prompt. After command prompt window appear, type python and Enter. If the Python installation was successful, the installed Python version is printed, and you are greeted by the prompt >>>. Type Ctrl+Z and Enter to quit.

Install the pip command

Python has a very useful pip command which can download and install 3rd-party libraries with a single command. This is provided by the Python Packaging Authority(PyPA):!forum/pypa-dev

To install pip, download and save it somewhere. After download, invoke the command prompt, go to the directory with and run this command:

C:\> python

Now pip command is installed. From there we can go to the Sphinx install.


pip has been contained in the Python official installation after version
of Python-3.4.0 or Python-2.7.9.

Installing Sphinx with pip

If you finished the installation of pip, type this line in the command prompt:

C:\> pip install sphinx

After installation, type sphinx-build -h on the command prompt. If everything worked fine, you will get a Sphinx version number and a list of options for this command.

That it. Installation is over. Head to First Steps with Sphinx to make a Sphinx project.