python-rtmidi uses the de-facto standard Python distutils and setuptools based packaging system and can be installed from the Python Package Index via pip. Since it is a Python C(++)-extension, a C++ compiler and build environment as well as some system-dependent libraries are needed to install, unless wheel packages with pre-compiled binaries are available for your system. See the Requirements section below for details.

From PyPI

If you have all the requirements, you should be able to install the package with pip:

$ pip install python-rtmidi

This will download the source distribution from python-rtmidi’s PyPI page, compile the extension (if no pre-compiled binary wheel is available) and install it in your active Python installation. Unless you want to change the Cython source file _rtmidi.pyx, there is no need to have Cython installed.


On some Linux distributions, e.g. Debian, which support both Python 2 and Python 3, pip may installed under the name pip2 resp. pip3. In this case, just pip2 instead of pip if you’re still using Python 2 (not officially supported), or pip3 if you are using Python 3.

python-rtmidi also works well with virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper. If you have both installed, creating an isolated environment for testing and/or using python-rtmidi is as easy as:

$ mkvirtualenv rtmidi
(rtmidi)$ pip install python-rtmidi

If you want to pass options to the build process, use pip’s install-option option. See the From Source section below for available options.

Pre-compiled Binaries

Pre-compiled binary wheels of the latest python-rtmidi version for Windows and macOS / OS X are available on PyPI for several major Python versions. If you install python-rtmidi via pip (see above), these wheels will be selected by pip automatically, if you have a compatible Python and Windows or macOS version.

The Windows binary wheels are compiled with Windows MultiMedia API support and are available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The macOS / OS X binary wheels are compiled with CoreMIDI support and are only available in 64-bit versions for OS X 10.6 and later. If you need JACK support on OS X, you need to compile python-rtmidi yourself (see the macOS section below for details).

From Source

To compile python-rtmidi from source and install it manually without pip, you can either download a source distribution archive or check out the sources from the Git repository.

While the steps to get the sources differ, the actual compilation step consists only of the usual python install command in both cases. recognizes several options to control which OS-dependent MIDI backends will be supported by the python-rtmidi extension binary it produces plus other options to control compilation of the RtMidi C++ library:



mac OS / OS X





Don’t compile in support for ALSA backend.




Don’t compile in support for JACK backend.



Don’t compile in support for CoreMIDI backend.



Don’t compile in support for Windows MultiMedia backend.


Don’t suppress RtMidi warnings to stderr.

Support for each OS dependent MIDI backend is only enabled when the required library and header files are actually present on the system. When the options passed to change, it may be necessary to remove previously built files by deleting the build directory.

You can also pass these options to when using pip, by using its --install-option option, for example:

pip install python-rtmidi --install-option="--no-jack"

From the Source Distribution

To download the python-rtmidi source distribution archive for the current version, extract and install it, use the following commands:

$ pip download python-rtmidi
$ tar -xzf python-rtmidi-1.4.9.tar.gz
$ cd python-rtmidi-1.4.9
$ python install

On Linux or macOS / OS X, if you want to install python-rtmidi into the system-wide Python library directory, you may have to prefix the last command with sudo, e.g.:

$ sudo python install

The recommended way, though, is to install python-rtmidi only for your current user (which pip does by default) or into a virtual environment:

$ python install --user

From the Source Code Repository

Alternatively, you can check out the python-rtmidi source code from the Git repository and then install it from your working copy. Since the repository does not include the C++ module source code pre-compiled from the Cython source, you’ll also need to install Cython >= 0.28, either via pip or from its Git repository. Using virtualenv / virtualenvwrapper is strongly recommended in this scenario:

Make a virtual environment:

$ mkvirtualenv rtmidi
(rtmidi)$ cdvirtualenv

Install Cython from PyPI:

(rtmidi)$ pip install Cython

or from its Git repository:

(rtmidi)$ git clone
(rtmidi)$ cd cython
(rtmidi)$ python install
(rtmidi)$ cd ..

Then install python-rtmidi:

(rtmidi)$ git clone
(rtmidi)$ cd python-rtmidi
(rtmidi)$ git submodule update --init
(rtmidi)$ python install


Naturally, you’ll need a C++ compiler and a build environment. See the platform-specific hints below.

If you want to change the Cython source file _rtmidi.pyx or want to recompile _rtmidi.cpp with a newer Cython version, you’ll need to install Cython >= 0.28. The _rtmidi.cpp file in the current source distribution (version 1.4.9) is tagged with:

/* Generated by Cython 0.29.23 */

RtMidi (and therefore python-rtmidi) supports several low-level MIDI frameworks on different operating systems. Only one of the available options needs to be present on the target system, but support for more than one can be compiled in. The setup script will try to detect available libraries and should use the appropriate compilations flags automatically.

  • Linux: ALSA, JACK

  • macOS (OS X): CoreMIDI, JACK

  • Windows: MultiMedia (MM)


First you need a C++ compiler and the pthread library. Install the build-essential package on debian-based systems to get these.

Then you’ll need Python development headers and libraries. On debian-based systems, install the python-dev package. If you use the official installers from you should already have these.

To get ALSA support, you must install development files for the libasound2 library (debian package: libasound2-dev). For JACK support, install the libjack development files (if you are using Jack1, install libjack-dev, if you are using Jack2, install libjack-jackd2-dev).

macOS (OS X)

Install the latest Xcode version or g++ from MacPorts or homebrew (untested). CoreMIDI support comes with installing Xcode. For JACK support, install JackOSX with the installer or build JACK from source.


If you have an old version of OS X and Xcode which still support building binaries for PPC, you’ll have to tell distribute to build the package only for i386 and x86_64 architectures:

env ARCHFLAGS="-arch i386 -arch x86_64" python install


Please see the detailed instructions for Windows in How to install python-rtmidi from source on Windows.

User Contributed Documentation

The python-rtmidi wiki on GitHub contains some user contributed documentation for additional installation scenarios. Please check these, if you have trouble installing python-rtmidi in an uncommon or not-yet-covered environment.