PyLint “Unable to import” error – how to set PYTHONPATH?

Each Answer to this Q is separated by one/two green lines.

I’m running PyLint from inside Wing IDE on Windows. I have a sub-directory (package) in my project and inside the package I import a module from the top level, ie.

Inside I have import one and this works fine at runtime, because the top-level directory (from which is run) is in the Python path. However, when I run PyLint on it gives me an error:

F0401: Unable to import 'one'

How do I fix this?

There are two options I’m aware of.

One, change the PYTHONPATH environment variable to include the directory above your module.

Alternatively, edit ~/.pylintrc to include the directory above your module, like this:

init-hook='import sys; sys.path.append("/path/to/root")'

(Or in other version of pylint, the init-hook requires you to change [General] to [MASTER])

Both of these options ought to work.

Hope that helps.

The solution to alter path in init-hook is good, but I dislike the fact that I had to add absolute path there, as result I can not share this pylintrc file among the developers of the project. This solution using relative path to pylintrc file works better for me:

init-hook="from pylint.config import find_pylintrc; import os, sys; sys.path.append(os.path.dirname(find_pylintrc()))"

Note that pylint.config.PYLINTRC also exists and has the same value as find_pylintrc().

The problem can be solved by configuring pylint path under venv:
$ cat .vscode/settings.json

    "python.pythonPath": "venv/bin/python",
    "python.linting.pylintPath": "venv/bin/pylint"

Do you have an empty file in both directories to let python know that the dirs are modules?

The basic outline when you are not running from within the folder (ie maybe from pylint’s, though I haven’t used that) is:


This is how the python interpreter is aware of the module without reference to the current directory, so if pylint is running from its own absolute path it will be able to access as topdir.functions_etc or topdir.subdir.other_functions, provided topdir is on the PYTHONPATH.

UPDATE: If the problem is not the file, maybe just try copying or moving your module to c:\Python26\Lib\site-packages — that is a common place to put additional packages, and will definitely be on your pythonpath. If you know how to do Windows symbolic links or the equivalent (I don’t!), you could do that instead. There are many more options here:, including the option of appending sys.path with the user-level directory of your development code, but in practice I usually just symbolically link my local development dir to site-packages – copying it over has the same effect.

general answer for this question I found on this page PLEASE NOT OPEN, SITE IS BUGED

create .pylintrc and add

init-hook="from pylint.config import find_pylintrc;
import os, sys; sys.path.append(os.path.dirname(find_pylintrc()))"

1) sys.path is a list.

2) The problem is sometimes the sys.path is not your virtualenv.path and you want to use pylint in your virtualenv

3) So like said, use init-hook (pay attention in ‘ and ” the parse of pylint is strict)

init-hook='sys.path = ["/path/myapps/bin/", "/path/to/myapps/lib/python3.3/site-packages/", ... many paths here])'


init-hook='sys.path = list(); sys.path.append("/path/to/foo")'

.. and

pylint --rcfile /path/to/pylintrc /path/to/

I’ve added a new file pylintrc in the project’s root directory with

init-hook='import sys; sys.path.append(".")'

and it works for me in PyCharm IDE

I don’t know how it works with WingIDE, but for using PyLint with Geany, I set my external command to:

PYTHONPATH=${PYTHONPATH}:$(dirname %d) pylint --output-format=parseable --reports=n "%f"

where %f is the filename, and %d is the path. Might be useful for someone 🙂

I had to update the system PYTHONPATH variable to add my App Engine path. In my case I just had to edit my ~/.bashrc file and add the following line:

export PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:/path/to/google_appengine_folder

In fact, I tried setting the init-hook first but this did not resolve the issue consistently across my code base (not sure why). Once I added it to the system path (probably a good idea in general) my issues went away.

One workaround that I only just discovered is to actually just run PyLint for the entire package, rather than a single file. Somehow, it manages to find imported module then.


if __name__ == '__main__':
    from [whatever the name of your package is] import one
    import one

Note that in Python 3, the syntax for the part in the else clause would be

from .. import one

On second thought, this probably won’t fix your specific problem. I misunderstood the question and thought that was being run as the main module, but that is not the case. And considering the differences in the way Python 2.6 (without importing absolute_import from __future__) and Python 3.x handle imports, you wouldn’t need to do this for Python 2.6 anyway, I don’t think.

Still, if you do eventually switch to Python 3 and plan on using a module as both a package module and as a standalone script inside the package, it may be a good idea to keep
something like

if __name__ == '__main__':
    from [whatever the name of your package is] import one   # assuming the package is in the current working directory or a subdirectory of PYTHONPATH
    from .. import one

in mind.

EDIT: And now for a possible solution to your actual problem. Either run PyLint from the directory containing your one module (via the command line, perhaps), or put the following code somewhere when running PyLint:

import os

olddir = os.getcwd()
import one

Basically, as an alternative to fiddling with PYTHONPATH, just make sure the current working directory is the directory containing when you do the import.

(Looking at Brian’s answer, you could probably assign the previous code to init_hook, but if you’re going to do that then you could simply do the appending to sys.path that he does, which is slightly more elegant than my solution.)

I had this same issue and fixed it by installing pylint in my virtualenv and then adding a .pylintrc file to my project directory with the following in the file:

init-hook='sys.path = list(); sys.path.append("./Lib/site-packages/")'

I found a nice answer. Edit your pylintrc and add the following in master

init-hook="import imp, os; from pylint.config import find_pylintrc; imp.load_source('import_hook', os.path.join(os.path.dirname(find_pylintrc()), ''))"

When you install Python, you can set up the path. If path is already defined then what you can do is within VS Code, hit Ctrl+Shift+P and type Python: Select Interpreter and select updated version of Python. Follow this link for more information,

If you want to walk up from the current module/file that was handed to pylint looking for the root of the module, this will do it.

init-hook=sys.path += [os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.sep, *sys.argv[-1].split(os.sep)[:i])) for i, _ in enumerate(sys.argv[-1].split(os.sep)) if os.path.isdir(os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.sep, *sys.argv[-1].split(os.sep)[:i], '.git')))][::-1]

If you have a python module ~/code/mymodule/, with a top-level directory layout like this

??? .pylintrc
??? mymodule/
?   ???
??? tests/

Then this will add ~/code/mymodule/ to your python path and allow for pylint to run in your IDE, even if you’re importing mymodule.src in tests/

You could swap out a check for a .pylintrc instead but a git directory is usually what you want when it comes to the root of a python module.

Before you ask

The answers using import sys, os; sys.path.append(...) are missing something that justifies the format of my answer. I don’t normally write code that way, but in this case you’re stuck dealing with the limitations of the pylintrc config parser and evaluator. It literally runs exec in the context of the init_hook callback so any attempt to import pathlib, use multi-line statements, store something into variables, etc., won’t work.

A less disgusting form of my code might look like this:

import os
import sys

def look_for_git_dirs(filename):
    has_git_dir = []
    filename_parts = filename.split(os.sep)
    for i, _ in enumerate(filename_parts):
        filename_part = os.path.abspath(os.path.join(os.path.sep, *filename_parts[:i]))
        if os.path.isdir(os.path.join(filename_part, '.git')):
    return has_git_dir[::-1]

# don't use .append() in case there's < 1 or > 1 matches found
sys.path += look_for_git_dirs(sys.argv[-1])

I wish I could have used pathlib.Path(filename).parents it would have made things much easier.

I had the same problem and since i could not find a answer I hope this can help anyone with a similar problem.

I use flymake with epylint. Basically what i did was add a dired-mode-hook that check if the dired directory is a python package directory. If it is I add it to the PYTHONPATH. In my case I consider a directory to be a python package if it contains a file named “”.


(defun python-expand-path ()
  "Append a directory to the PYTHONPATH."
   (let ((string (read-directory-name 
          "Python package directory: " 
     (setenv "PYTHONPATH" (concat (expand-file-name string)
                  (getenv ":PYTHONPATH"))))))

(defun pythonpath-dired-mode-hook ()
  (let ((setup_py (concat default-directory ""))
    (directory (expand-file-name default-directory)))
    ;;   (if (file-exists-p setup_py)
    (if (is-python-package-directory directory)
    (let ((pythonpath (concat (getenv "PYTHONPATH") ":" 
                  (expand-file-name directory))))
      (setenv "PYTHONPATH" pythonpath)
      (message (concat "PYTHONPATH=" (getenv "PYTHONPATH")))))))

(defun is-python-package-directory (directory)
  (let ((setup_py (concat directory "")))
    (file-exists-p setup_py)))

(add-hook 'dired-mode-hook 'pythonpath-dired-mode-hook)

Hope this helps.

The key is to add your project directory to sys.path without considering about the env variable.

For someone who use VSCode, here’s a one-line solution for you if there’s a base directory of your project:

init-hook='base_dir="my_spider"; import sys,os,re;".+\/" + base_dir, os.getcwd()); project_dir = if _re else os.path.join(os.getcwd(), base_dir); sys.path.append(project_dir)'

Let me explain it a little bit:

  •".+\/" + base_dir, os.getcwd()).group(): find base directory according to the editing file

  • os.path.join(os.getcwd(), base_dir): add cwd to sys.path to meet command line environment

FYI, here’s my .pylintrc:

First, go to your VS Code then press “ctrl + shift + p”

Then search settings.json

Then paste the below code inside the settings.jason.I hope the problem will be solved.


"python.pythonPath": "venv/bin/python",
"python.linting.pylintPath": "venv/bin/pylint"


Maybe by manually appending the dir inside the PYTHONPATH?


In case anybody is looking for a way to run pylint as an external tool in PyCharm and have it work with their virtual environments (why I came to this question), here’s how I solved it:

  1. In PyCharm > Preferences > Tools > External Tools, Add or Edit an item for pylint.
  2. In the Tool Settings of the Edit Tool dialog, set Program to use pylint from the python interpreter directory: $PyInterpreterDirectory$/pylint
  3. Set your other parameters in the Parameters field, like: --rcfile=$ProjectFileDir$/pylintrc -r n $FileDir$
  4. Set your working directory to $FileDir$

Now using pylint as an external tool will run pylint on whatever directory you have selected using a common config file and use whatever interpreter is configured for your project (which presumably is your virtualenv interpreter).

This is an old question but has no accepted answer, so I’ll suggest this: change the import statement in to read:

from .. import one

In my current environment (Python 3.6, VSCode using pylint 2.3.1) this clears the flagged statement.

Mac user: If you’re using Anaconda 3 w/ vsCode and have multiple environments, pointing to the following path via settings.json for vsCode works as well:

  "python.pythonPath": "/Users/username/opt/anaconda3/bin/python",
  "python.linting.pylintPath": "/Users/username/opt/anaconda3/bin/python"

If you are using Windows:

  • get the path of the python.exe inside the virtual environment you just created
  • it should be like this Z:\YourProjectFolder\Scripts\python.exe
  • then go to your vscode and edit the user settings.json
  • add this line: "python.pythonPath": "Z:\\YourProjectFolder\\Scripts\\python.exe"
  • save it and that should fix the issue
  • NOTE: the double backslash instead of single when putting it to the json file
    "python.pythonPath": "Z:\\YourProjectFolder\\Scripts\\python.exe"

I got this error when trying to submit a PR. What I end up doing is just to add #pylint: disable=E0401 on the same line where “import” happens.

This helps me to pass the auto test.

Hello i was able to import the packages from different directory. I just did the following:
Note: I am using VScode

Steps to Create a Python Package
Working with Python packages is really simple. All you need to do is:

  • Create a directory and give it your package’s name.
  • Put your classes in it.
  • Create a file in the directory

For example: you have a folder called Framework where you are keeping all the custom classes there and your job is to just create a file inside the folder named Framework.

And while importing you need to import in this fashion—>

from Framework import base

so the E0401 error disappears
Framework is the folder where you just created and
base is your custom module which you are required to import into and work upon
Hope it helps!!!!

if you using vscode,make sure your package directory is out of the _pychache__ directory.

If you are using Cython in Linux, I resolved removing files in my project target directory.

I found this worked nicely in my local .pylintrc file with a pipenv virtual environment:

init-hook='import site; sys.path += site.getsitepackages()'

See this post for info about site packages.

just add this code in .vscode/settings.json file

,"python.linting.pylintPath": "venv/bin/pylint"

This will notify the location of pylint(which is an error checker for python)

I have been struggling with this a lot and eventually found out something that was not described here. Here are my 2 cents to this issue:
I am using VS Code on Windows, using virtual env. For some reasons, the pylint executable is called epylint and not pylint. In my script or from CLI prompt, I was running pylint ./xxx and the system was launching a pylint it found somewhere else but not the appropriate one. I just added an e in my shell script and my ‘Unable to import’ issues eventually vanished.

The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

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