Building From Source

External Libraries


You do not need to install all supported external libraries to use Pillow’s basic features. Zlib and libjpeg are required by default.


There are Dockerfiles in our Docker images repo to install the dependencies for some operating systems.

Many of Pillow’s features require external libraries:

  • libjpeg provides JPEG functionality.

    • Pillow has been tested with libjpeg versions 6b, 8, 9-9d and libjpeg-turbo version 8.

    • Starting with Pillow 3.0.0, libjpeg is required by default. It can be disabled with the -C jpeg=disable flag.

  • zlib provides access to compressed PNGs

    • Starting with Pillow 3.0.0, zlib is required by default. It can be disabled with the -C zlib=disable flag.

  • libtiff provides compressed TIFF functionality

    • Pillow has been tested with libtiff versions 3.x and 4.0-4.6.0

  • libfreetype provides type related services

  • littlecms provides color management

    • Pillow version 2.2.1 and below uses liblcms1, Pillow 2.3.0 and above uses liblcms2. Tested with 1.19 and 2.7-2.16.

  • libwebp provides the WebP format.

    • Pillow has been tested with version 0.1.3, which does not read transparent WebP files. Versions 0.3.0 and above support transparency.

  • openjpeg provides JPEG 2000 functionality.

    • Pillow has been tested with openjpeg 2.0.0, 2.1.0, 2.3.1, 2.4.0, 2.5.0 and 2.5.2.

    • Pillow does not support the earlier 1.5 series which ships with Debian Jessie.

  • libimagequant provides improved color quantization

    • Pillow has been tested with libimagequant 2.6-4.3

    • Libimagequant is licensed GPLv3, which is more restrictive than the Pillow license, therefore we will not be distributing binaries with libimagequant support enabled.

  • libraqm provides complex text layout support.

    • libraqm provides bidirectional text support (using FriBiDi), shaping (using HarfBuzz), and proper script itemization. As a result, Raqm can support most writing systems covered by Unicode.

    • libraqm depends on the following libraries: FreeType, HarfBuzz, FriBiDi, make sure that you install them before installing libraqm if not available as package in your system.

    • Setting text direction or font features is not supported without libraqm.

    • Pillow wheels since version 8.2.0 include a modified version of libraqm that loads libfribidi at runtime if it is installed. On Windows this requires compiling FriBiDi and installing fribidi.dll into a directory listed in the Dynamic-link library search order (Microsoft Learn) (fribidi-0.dll or libfribidi-0.dll are also detected). See Build Options to see how to build this version.

    • Previous versions of Pillow (5.0.0 to 8.1.2) linked libraqm dynamically at runtime.

  • libxcb provides X11 screengrab support.

If you didn’t build Python from source, make sure you have Python’s development libraries installed.

In Debian or Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install python3-dev python3-setuptools

In Fedora, the command is:

sudo dnf install python3-devel redhat-rpm-config

In Alpine, the command is:

sudo apk add python3-dev py3-setuptools


redhat-rpm-config is required on Fedora 23, but not earlier versions.

Prerequisites for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS - 22.04 LTS are installed with:

sudo apt-get install libtiff5-dev libjpeg8-dev libopenjp2-7-dev zlib1g-dev \
    libfreetype6-dev liblcms2-dev libwebp-dev tcl8.6-dev tk8.6-dev python3-tk \
    libharfbuzz-dev libfribidi-dev libxcb1-dev

To install libraqm, sudo apt-get install meson and then see depends/

Prerequisites are installed on recent Red Hat, CentOS or Fedora with:

sudo dnf install libtiff-devel libjpeg-devel openjpeg2-devel zlib-devel \
    freetype-devel lcms2-devel libwebp-devel tcl-devel tk-devel \
    harfbuzz-devel fribidi-devel libraqm-devel libimagequant-devel libxcb-devel

Note that the package manager may be yum or DNF, depending on the exact distribution.

Prerequisites are installed for Alpine with:

sudo apk add tiff-dev jpeg-dev openjpeg-dev zlib-dev freetype-dev lcms2-dev \
    libwebp-dev tcl-dev tk-dev harfbuzz-dev fribidi-dev libimagequant-dev \
    libxcb-dev libpng-dev

See also the Dockerfiles in the Test Infrastructure repo ( for a known working install process for other tested distros.

The Xcode command line tools are required to compile portions of Pillow. The tools are installed by running xcode-select --install from the command line. The command line tools are required even if you have the full Xcode package installed. It may be necessary to run sudo xcodebuild -license to accept the license prior to using the tools.

The easiest way to install external libraries is via Homebrew. After you install Homebrew, run:

brew install libjpeg libtiff little-cms2 openjpeg webp

To install libraqm on macOS use Homebrew to install its dependencies:

brew install freetype harfbuzz fribidi

Then see depends/ to install libraqm.

We recommend you use prebuilt wheels from PyPI. If you wish to compile Pillow manually, you can use the build scripts in the winbuild directory used for CI testing and development. These scripts require Visual Studio 2017 or newer and NASM.

The scripts also install Pillow from the local copy of the source code, so the Installing instructions will not be necessary afterwards.

To build Pillow using MSYS2, make sure you run the MSYS2 MinGW 32-bit or MSYS2 MinGW 64-bit console, not MSYS2 directly.

The following instructions target the 64-bit build, for 32-bit replace all occurrences of mingw-w64-x86_64- with mingw-w64-i686-.

Make sure you have Python and GCC installed:

pacman -S \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-python3 \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-python3-pip \

Prerequisites are installed on MSYS2 MinGW 64-bit with:

pacman -S \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-libjpeg-turbo \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-zlib \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-libtiff \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-freetype \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-lcms2 \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-libwebp \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-openjpeg2 \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-libimagequant \
    mingw-w64-x86_64-libraqm states that setuptools >= 60 does not work with MSYS2. To workaround this, before installing Pillow you must run:



Only FreeBSD 10 and 11 tested

Make sure you have Python’s development libraries installed:

sudo pkg install python3

Prerequisites are installed on FreeBSD 10 or 11 with:

sudo pkg install jpeg-turbo tiff webp lcms2 freetype2 openjpeg harfbuzz fribidi libxcb

Then see depends/ to install libraqm.

Basic Android support has been added for compilation within the Termux environment. The dependencies can be installed by:

pkg install -y python ndk-sysroot clang make \

This has been tested within the Termux app on ChromeOS, on x86.


Once you have installed the prerequisites, to install Pillow from the source code on PyPI, run:

python3 -m pip install --upgrade pip
python3 -m pip install --upgrade Pillow --no-binary :all:

If the prerequisites are installed in the standard library locations for your machine (e.g. /usr or /usr/local), no additional configuration should be required. If they are installed in a non-standard location, you may need to configure setuptools to use those locations by editing or pyproject.toml, or by adding environment variables on the command line:

CFLAGS="-I/usr/pkg/include" python3 -m pip install --upgrade Pillow --no-binary :all:

If Pillow has been previously built without the required prerequisites, it may be necessary to manually clear the pip cache or build without cache using the --no-cache-dir option to force a build with newly installed external libraries.

If you would like to install from a local copy of the source code instead, you can clone from GitHub with git clone or download and extract the compressed archive from PyPI.

After navigating to the Pillow directory, run:

python3 -m pip install --upgrade pip
python3 -m pip install .

Build Options

  • Config setting: -C parallel=n. Can also be given with environment variable: MAX_CONCURRENCY=n. Pillow can use multiprocessing to build the extension. Setting -C parallel=n sets the number of CPUs to use to n, or can disable parallel building by using a setting of 1. By default, it uses 4 CPUs, or if 4 are not available, as many as are present.

  • Config settings: -C zlib=disable, -C jpeg=disable, -C tiff=disable, -C freetype=disable, -C raqm=disable, -C lcms=disable, -C webp=disable, -C webpmux=disable, -C jpeg2000=disable, -C imagequant=disable, -C xcb=disable. Disable building the corresponding feature even if the development libraries are present on the building machine.

  • Config settings: -C zlib=enable, -C jpeg=enable, -C tiff=enable, -C freetype=enable, -C raqm=enable, -C lcms=enable, -C webp=enable, -C webpmux=enable, -C jpeg2000=enable, -C imagequant=enable, -C xcb=enable. Require that the corresponding feature is built. The build will raise an exception if the libraries are not found. Webpmux (WebP metadata) relies on WebP support. Tcl and Tk also must be used together.

  • Config settings: -C raqm=vendor, -C fribidi=vendor. These flags are used to compile a modified version of libraqm and a shim that dynamically loads libfribidi at runtime. These are used to compile the standard Pillow wheels. Compiling libraqm requires a C99-compliant compiler.

  • Config setting: -C platform-guessing=disable. Skips all of the platform dependent guessing of include and library directories for automated build systems that configure the proper paths in the environment variables (e.g. Buildroot).

  • Config setting: -C debug=true. Adds a debugging flag to the include and library search process to dump all paths searched for and found to stdout.

Sample usage:

python3 -m pip install --upgrade Pillow -C [feature]=enable

Old Versions

You can download old distributions from the release history at PyPI and by direct URL access eg.