There are a few different ways to install PyDM. The easiest way to install it from scratch is probably using the Anaconda system. If you have an existing python environment, and want to install PyDM for use with that, you can do that with pip.

Please note, this guide is written with Unix in mind, so there are probably some differences when installing on Windows.

Installing PyDM and Prerequisites with Anaconda

After installing Anaconda (see, create a new environment for PyDM:

$ conda create -n pydm-environment python=3.8 pyqt=5 pip numpy scipy six psutil pyqtgraph pydm -c conda-forge
$ source activate pydm-environment


There is currently no PyQt 5.15+ build available on conda or PyPI that has designer support for python plugins.

In order to use PyDM widgets in designer, please make sure to pin the PyQt version to 5.12.3 or lower until this is resolved.

Once you’ve installed and activated the environment, you should be able to run ‘pydm’ to launch PyDM, or run ‘designer’ to launch Qt Designer. If you are on Windows, run these commands from the Anaconda Prompt.

On MacOS, launching Qt Designer is a little more annoying: First, use ‘which pydm’ to figure out where the conda environment’s ‘bin’ directory is:

$ which pydm
<your anaconda directory>/base/envs/pydm-environment/bin/pydm

Now, you can use ‘open’ to open

$ open <your anaconda directory>/base/envs/pydm-environment/bin/


Depending on the version of your MacOS, launching designer (or many other Qt apps) may not work initially. If the designer process seems stuck and will not open, run the following command which should fix it, and then relaunch designer:


Installing Manually, Without Anaconda

This alternate installation method is only recommended for large ‘site’ installations that want to avoid using Anaconda.

Qt 5

First, download the source code for your platform. Once you’ve downloaded and extracted the archive somewhere, its time to configure the build. To see all the options, run:

$ ./configure --help

Then, once you are ready:

$ ./configure <your options here>
$ make -j4 && make install


You’ll need SIP to build PyQt5. Download it, and extract the archive. Then, follow the instructions to build and install SIP.


Download the source code for PyQt5, and extract the archive. Follow the provided instructions to build and install it. Note that you may need to manually set the ‘–qmake’ option to point to the qmake binary you created when you built Qt5.

Installing PyDM with PIP

PyDM is part of the Python Package Index (PyPI), so you can install it with pip:

$ pip install pydm

This will download and install all the necessary python dependencies, then will install PyDM. (You’ll still need the Qt and PyQt install from above).

Setting Environment Variables

PyDM has several environment variables that let you configure its behavior, and where it looks for certain types of files. To ensure these variables are always set, you probably want to add them to your shell startup file (like ~/.bashrc, if you are using bash).

Designer Plugin Path

If you want to use Designer to build displays with PyDM widgets, you’ll need to add the PyDM install location to the PYQTDESIGNERPATH environment variable. This directory might be buried pretty deep, depending on how Python is installed on your system. For example, mine lives at ‘/usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/pydm/’.

Default Data Source

PyDM lets you get data from multiple data sources. To accomplish this, all addresses are prefixed by a ‘scheme’, much like a URL. For example, the EPICS plugin that comes with PyDM registers the scheme ‘ca’, and to specify an address to a PV, you’d write ‘ca://PVNAME’. Many sites use one data source primarily, and if you’d like to avoid always writing out the same scheme, you can set the PYDM_DEFAULT_PROTOCOL environment variable. For example, to use the EPICS plugin by default, set PYDM_DEFAULT_PROTOCOL to ‘ca’. Now you can use ‘PVNAME’ as an address without specifying that you want to use channel access.

Troubleshooting PyDM Widgets in Designer

For Qt Designer to see the PyDM widgets, the PyQt Designer Plugin needs to be installed. This is usually done as part of the PyQt install process, but some package managers (like homebrew on OSX) don’t install the plugin when PyQt is installed. In that case, you’ll probably need to install PyQt from source. Follow the directions from the PyQt documentation: