Hook Configuration Options

As of version 4.4, PyInstaller implements a mechanism for passing configuration options to the hooks. At the time of writing, this feature is supported only in .spec files and has no command-line interface equivalent.

The hook configuration options consist of a dictionary that is passed to the Analysis object via the hooksconfig argument. The keys of the dictionary represent hook identifiers while the values are dictionaries of hook-specific keys and values that correspond to hook settings:

a = Analysis(
        "some_hook_id": {
            "foo": ["entry1", "entry2"],
            "bar": 42,
            "enable_x": True,
        "another_hook_id": {
            "baz": "value",

Supported hooks and options

This section lists hooks that implement support for configuration options. For each hook (or group of hooks), we provide the hook identifier and the list of supported options.

GObject introspection (gi) hooks

The options passed under gi hook identifier control the collection of GLib/Gtk resources (themes, icons, translations) in various hooks related to GObject introspection (i.e., hook-gi.*).

They are especially useful when freezing Gtk3-based applications on linux, as they allow one to limit the amount of themes and icons collected from the system /usr/share directory.

Hook identifier: gi


  • languages [list of strings]: list of locales (e.g., ˙en_US˙) for which translations should be collected. By default, gi hooks collect all available translations.

  • icons [list of strings]: list of icon themes (e.g., Adwaita) that should be collected. By default, gi hooks collect all available icon themes.

  • themes [list of strings]: list of Gtk themes (e.g., Adwaita) that should be collected. By default, gi hooks collect all available icon themes.

  • module-versions [dict of version strings]: versions of gi modules to use. For example, a key of ‘GtkSource’ and value to ‘4’ will use gtksourceview4.


Collect only Adwaita theme and icons, limit the collected translations to British English and Simplified Chinese, and use version 3.0 of Gtk and version 4 of GtkSource:

a = Analysis(
        "gi": {
            "icons": ["Adwaita"],
            "themes": ["Adwaita"],
            "languages": ["en_GB", "zh_CN"],
            "module-versions": {
                "Gtk": "3.0",
                "GtkSource": "4",


Currently the module-versions configuration is available only for GtkSource, Gtk, and Gdk.

GStreamer (gi.repository.Gst) hook

The collection of GStreamer is subject to both the general gi hook configuration (for example, collection of translations file as controlled by the languages option) and by special hook configuration named gstreamer 1 that controls collection of GStreamer plugins.

The GStreamer framework comes with a multitude of plugins that are typically installed as separate packages (gstreamer-plugins-base, gstreamer-plugins-good, gstreamer-plugins-bad, and gstreamer-plugins-ugly; the naming varies between packaging systems). By default, PyInstaller collects all available plugins as well as their binary dependencies; therefore, having all GStreamer plugins installed in the build environment will likely result in collection of many unnecessary plugins and increased frozen application size due to potential complex dependency chains of individual plugins and the underlying shared libraries.

Hook identifier: gstreamer 1


  • include_plugins [list of strings]: list of plugin names to include in the frozen application. Specifying the include list implicitly excludes all plugins that do not appear in the list.

  • exclude_plugins [list of strings]: list of plugin names to exclude from the frozen application. If include list is also available, the exclude list is applied after it; if not, the exclude list is applied to all available plugins.

Both include and exclude list expect base plugin names (e.g., audioparsers, matroska , x264, flac). Internally, each name is converted into a pattern (e.g., '**/*flac.*'), and matched using fnmatch against actual plugin file names. Therefore, it is also possible to include the wildcard (*) in the plugin name 2.

Basic example: excluding an unwanted plugin

Exclude the opencv GStreamer plugin to prevent pulling OpenCV shared libraries into the frozen application.

a = Analysis(
        "gstreamer": {
            "exclude_plugins": [

Advanced example: including only specific plugins

When optimizing the frozen application size, it is often more efficient to explicitly include only the subset of the plugins that are actually required for the application to function.

Consider the following simple player application:

# audio_player.py
import sys
import os

import gi
gi.require_version('Gst', '1.0')
from gi.repository import GLib, Gst

if len(sys.argv) != 2:
    print(f"Usage: {sys.argv[0]} <filename>")

filename = os.path.abspath(sys.argv[1])
if not os.path.isfile(filename):
    print(f"Input file {filename} does not exist!")

mainloop = GLib.MainLoop()

playbin = Gst.ElementFactory.make("playbin", "player")
playbin.set_property('uri', Gst.filename_to_uri(filename))
playbin.set_property('volume', 0.2)


Suppose that, although the application is using the generic playbin and player elements, we intend for the frozen application to play only audio files. In that case, we can limit the collected plugins as follows:

# The not-completely-optimized list of gstreamer plugins for playing a FLAC
# (and possibly some other) audio files on linux and Windows.
gst_include_plugins = [
    # gstreamer
    # gstreamer-plugins-base
    "alsa",  # Linux audio output
    # gstreamer-plugins-good
    "directsound", # Windows audio output
    "osxaudio",  # macOS audio output
    "pulseaudio",  # Linux audio output
    # gstreamer-plugins-bad
    "wasapi",  # Windows audio output

a = Analysis(
        "gstreamer": {
            "include_plugins": gst_include_plugins,

Determining which plugins need to be collected may require good knowledge of GStreamer pipelines and their plugin system, and may result in several test iterations to see if the required multimedia functionality works as expected. Unfortunately, there is no free lunch when it comes to optimizing the size of application that uses a plugin system like that. Keep in mind that in addition to obviously-named plugins (such as flac for FLAC-related functionality), you will likely need to collect at least some plugins that come from gstreamer itself (e.g., the coreelements one) and at least some that are part of gstreamer-plugins-base.


While the hook is called gi.repository.Gst, the identifier for Gstreamer-related options was chosen to be simply gstreamer.


And it is also possible to get away with accidentally specifying the plugin prefix, which is typically libgst, but can also be gst, depending on the toolchain that was used to build GStreamer.

Matplotlib hooks

The hooks for the matplotlib package allow user to control the backend collection behavior via backends option under the matplotlib identifier, as described below.

Hook identifier: matplotlib


  • backends [string or list of strings]: backend selection method or name(s) of backend(s) to collect. Valid string values: 'auto', 'all', or a human-readable backend name (e.g., 'TkAgg'). To specify multiple backends to be collected, use a list of strings (e.g., ['TkAgg', 'Qt5Agg']).

Backend selection process

If backends option is set to 'auto' (or not specified), the hook performs auto-detection of used backends, by scanning the code for matplotlib.use() function calls with literal arguments. For example, matplotlib.use('TkAgg') being used in the code results in the TkAgg backend being collected. If no such calls are found, the default backend is determined as the first importable GUI-based backend, using the same priority list as internally used by the matplotlib.get_backend() and matplotlib.pyplot.switch_backend() functions: ['MacOSX', 'Qt5Agg', 'Gtk3Agg', 'TkAgg', 'WxAgg']. If no GUI-based backend is importable, the headless 'Agg' is collected instead.


Due to limitations of the bytecode-scanning approach, only specific forms of matplotlib.use() invocation can be automatically detected. The backend must be specified as string literal (as opposed to being passed via a variable). The second optional argument, force, can also be specified, but it must also be a literal and must not be specified as a keyword argument:

import matplotlib

matplotlib.use('TkAgg')  # detected
matplotlib.use('TkAgg', False)  # detected

backend = 'TkAgg'
matplotlib.use(backend)  # not detected

matplotlib.use('TkAgg', force=False)  # not detected

In addition to matplotlib module name, its common alias, mpl is also recognized:

import matplotlib as mpl
mpl.use('TkAgg')  # detected

Importing the function from the module should also work:

from matplotlib import use
use('TkAgg')  # detected

If backends option is set to 'all', all (importable) backends are selected, which corresponds to the behavior of PyInstaller 4.x and earlier. The list of importable backends depends on the packages installed in the environment; for example, the Qt5Agg backend becomes importable if either the PyQt5 or the PySide2 package is installed.

Otherwise, the value of the backends option is treated as a backend name (if it is a string) or a list of backend names (if it is a list). In the case of user-provided backend names, no additional validation is performed; the backends are collected regardless of whether they are importable or not.


a = Analysis(
        "matplotlib": {
            "backends": "auto",  # auto-detect; the default behavior
            # "backends": "all",  # collect all backends
            # "backends": "TkAgg",  # collect a specific backend
            # "backends": ["TkAgg", "Qt5Agg"],  # collect multiple backends


The Qt5Agg backend code conditionally imports all Qt bindings packages (PySide2, PyQt5, PySide6, and PyQt6). Therefore, if all are installed in your environment, PyInstaller will end up collecting all. In addition to increasing the frozen application’s size, this might also cause conflicts between the collected versions of the shared libraries. To prevent that, use the --exclude-module option to exclude the extraneous Qt bindings packags (i.e., if you want to use PyQt5, use --exclude-module PySide2, --exclude-module PyQt6, and --exclude-module PySide6).

Starting with PyInstaller 6.5, multiple Qt bindings in a frozen application are explicitly disallowed - the build process aborts with an error if hooks for more than one Qt bindings package are executed. Therefore, matplotlib hook automatically attempts to select Qt bindings to use, based on the following heuristics: first, we check whether hooks for any Qt bindings have already been run; if they have, those bindings are selected. If not, the QT_API environment variable is read; if it is set and contains a valid Qt bindings package name, those bindings are selected. If not, one of the available Qt bindings is selected. Once a Qt bindings package is selected, all other (potentially available) Qt bindings packages are excluded from the hooked module, to prevent their collection due to conditional imports in the hooked module.

This means that if your entry-point script explicitly imports a Qt bindings package before importing matplotlib, those bindings should be chosen automatically. On the other hand, if your program uses matplotlib without importing Qt bindings on its own, the Qt bindings to be collected are auto-selected, based on what is available in the build environment. This auto-selection can be overridden by setting the QT_API environment variable before running PyInstaller. In this particular case, an environment variable is used instead of hooks configuration mechanism because Qt bindings selection might be performed across several hooks for different packages.

Adding an option to the hook

Implementing support for hook options requires access to hook_api object, which is available only when hook implements the hook(hook_api) function (as described here).

The value of a hook’s configuration option can be obtained using the get_hook_config() function:

# hook-mypackage.py
from PyInstaller.utils.hooks import get_hook_config

# Processing unrelated to hook options, using global hook values
binaries, datas, hiddenimports = ...

# Collect extra data
def hook(hook_api):
    # Boolean option 'collect_extra_data'
    if get_hook_config(hook_api, 'mypackage', 'collect_extra_data'):
        extra_datas = ...  # Collect extra data

After implementing option handling in the hook, please add a section documenting it under Supported hooks and options, to inform the users of the option’s availability and the meaning of its value(s).

The above hook example allows the user to toggle the collection of extra data from mypackage by setting the corresponding option in their .spec file:

a = Analysis(
        "mypackage": {
            "collect_extra_data": True,