Recording installed projects

This document specifies a common format of recording information about Python projects installed in an environment. A common metadata format allows tools to query, manage or uninstall projects, regardless of how they were installed.

Almost all information is optional. This allows tools outside the Python ecosystem, such as Linux package managers, to integrate with Python tooling as much as possible. For example, even if an installer cannot easily provide a list of installed files in a format specific to Python tooling, it should still record the name and version of the installed project.

History and change workflow

The metadata described here was first specified in PEP 376, and later ammended in PEP 627. It was formerly known as Database of Installed Python Distributions. Further amendments (except trivial language or typography fixes) must be made through the PEP process (see PEP 1).

While this document is the normative specification, these PEPs that introduce changes to it may include additional information such as rationales and backwards compatibility considerations.

The .dist-info directory

Each project installed from a distribution must, in addition to files, install a “.dist-info” directory located alongside importable modules and packages (commonly, the site-packages directory).

This directory is named as {name}-{version}.dist-info, with name and Distribution versions fields corresponding to Core metadata specifications. The name field must be in normalized form (see PEP 503 for the definition of normalization).

This .dist-info directory can contain these files, described in detail below:

  • METADATA: contains project metadata

  • RECORD: records the list of installed files.

  • INSTALLER: records the name of the tool used to install the project.

The METADATA file is mandatory. All other files may be omitted at the installing tool’s discretion. Additional installer-specific files may be present.


The Binary distribution format specification describes additional files that may appear in the .dist-info directory of a Wheel. Such files may be copied to the .dist-info directory of an installed project.

The previous versions of this specification also specified a REQUESTED file. This file is now considered a tool-specific extension, but may be standardized again in the future. See PEP 376 for its original meaning.


The METADATA file contains metadata as described in the Core metadata specifications specification, version 1.1 or greater.

The METADATA file is mandatory. If it cannot be created, or if required core metadata is not available, installers must report an error and fail to install the project.

The RECORD file

The RECORD file holds the list of installed files. It is a CSV file containing one record (line) per installed file.

The CSV dialect must be readable with the default reader of Python’s csv module:

  • field delimiter: , (comma),

  • quoting char: " (straight double quote),

  • line terminator: either \r\n or \n.

Each record is composed of three elements: the file’s path, the hash of the contents, and its size.

The path may be either absolute, or relative to the directory containing the .dist-info directory (commonly, the site-packages directory). On Windows, directories may be separated either by forward- or backslashes (/ or \).

The hash is either an empty string or the name of a hash algorithm from hashlib.algorithms_guaranteed, followed by the equals character = and the digest of the file’s contents, encoded with the urlsafe-base64-nopad encoding (base64.urlsafe_b64encode(digest) with trailing = removed).

The size is either the empty string, or file’s size in bytes, as a base 10 integer.

For any file, either or both of the hash and size fields may be left empty. Commonly, entries for .pyc files and the RECORD file itself have empty hash and size. For other files, leaving the information out is discouraged, as it prevents verifying the integrity of the installed project.

If the RECORD file is present, it must list all installed files of the project, except .pyc files corresponding to .py files listed in RECORD, which are optional. Notably, the contents of the .dist-info directory (including the RECORD file itself) must be listed. Directories should not be listed.

To completely uninstall a package, a tool needs to remove all files listed in RECORD, all .pyc files (of all optimization levels) corresponding to removed .py files, and any directories emptied by the uninstallation.

Here is an example snippet of a possible RECORD file:


If the RECORD file is missing, tools that rely on .dist-info must not atempt to uninstall or upgrade the package. (This does not apply to tools that rely on other sources of information, such as system package managers in Linux distros.)


If present, INSTALLER is a single-line text file naming the tool used to install the project. If the installer is executable from the command line, INSTALLER should contain the command name. Otherwise, it should contain a printable ASCII string.

The file can be terminated by zero or more ASCII whitespace characters.

Here are examples of two possible INSTALLER files:

MegaCorp Cloud Install-O-Matic

This value should be used for informational purposes only. For example, if a tool is asked to uninstall a project but finds no RECORD file, it may suggest that the tool named in INSTALLER may be able to do the uninstallation.