I have a script written in python 3.5 that uses osgeo gdal (1.11) to extract maps and file info from geotiff files. I would like to compile this code to create a standalone app on windows, and I use pyinstaller (3.2) for this.

The code compiles but does not run, i get the following runtime error:

File "site-packages\osgeo\__init__.py", line 15, in swig_import_helper
File "imp.py", line 296, in find_module    
ImportError: No module named '_gdal' 

this is from compiling test1.py, which has a single line:

from osgeo import gdal


pyinstaller.exe --onefile --debug test1.py

and running the resulting test1.exe.

[other tests, not importing gdal, compile and run fine].

It seems there are problems importing osgeo libraries when compiling using pyinstaller and py2exe.

I have seen this question: Working Windows Standalone .EXE From QGIS Python Script Using PyInstaller? and i guess it is related but because it is specific to a qgis environment i do not know how to adapt the solution to my problem.

I have also seen there is a pyinstaller hook for osgeo libraries: https://github.com/pyinstaller/pyinstaller/issues/1522, and https://trac.osgeo.org/gdal/ticket/6364, and i checked i've got this hook in my pyinstaller folder, but it does not solve the import problem for me.

I have also posted to the pyinstaller mailing list but obtained no answer.

How can I obtain a working executable from a standard python script which imports GDAL ?

  • Gdal library is not qgis specific, it is provided by gdal***.dll. I don't know the specifics of pyinstaller because I've never used it, but I think you will have to bundle the gdal****.dll. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 22:56
  • thanks, i've done been discussing this on the pysintaller github: github.com/pyinstaller/pyinstaller/issues/1522 , but still confused about how to fix it
    – Véro
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 16:11
  • I've found a workaround / hack to make the executable work: simply commenting out the file osgeo\__init__.py and write __version__ = '[your gdal version number, e.g. 1.11.4]' instead. this works because the only task of the file osgeo\__init__.py is to set the osgeo version with the same number as the gdal version. then all other osgeo and gdal functions run normally.
    – Véro
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 16:15
  • You should convert your comment to an answer
    – nmtoken
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 9:10
  • ok, I have added it, it is really just a temporary hack though
    – Véro
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 12:23

4 Answers 4


I encountered the same issue for a script importing ogr, and was able to compile a working exe by adding the path to GDAL in the pyinstaller command:

C:\Python36\Scripts\pyinstaller.exe --onefile --windowed -p C:\Python36\Lib\site-packages\osgeo python_script.pyw

This is under Python 3.6.1, with GDAL 2.1.3 (all 64-bit), with pyinstaller 3.4.


I'm adding this as an answer because it's a way to make the executable work, but it is really a hack :

comment out everything in the file osgeo\__init__.py and write __version__ = '[your gdal version number, e.g. 1.11.4]' instead.

This works because the only task of the file osgeo\__init__.py is to set the osgeo version with the same number as the gdal version. After doing this all other osgeo and gdal functions still run normally.

  • This method worked for me. Just don't comment out the section of the init file that sets the environment variables GDAL_DATA, etc.
    – Graham S
    Commented Apr 9, 2018 at 15:32

From the link you provided, you will have to specify the gdal***.dll in the setup code. This is from the link you provided.

a = Analysis(['ShapeViewer.py'],
         pathex=['c:\\Users\\Daniel Stephanson\\workspace\\ShapeViewer'],

You will have to change:


To something like:


I've not tested though.

  • thank you, I've tried this but no luck. it seems the problem may be with a .pyd file not bundled correctly, also there may be other problems with python 3.5, or anaconda, or both.
    – Véro
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 16:09

In case you don't want to change any init files in your python installation, alternatively you can just copy the _gdal library which is being loaded by your gdal import to your dist directory created by PyInstaller. You can automate this in a setup script with the lines:

import imp
import shutil
from osgeo import gdal
fp, pathname, description = imp.find_module('_gdal', [dirname(gdal.__file__)])

# now pathname contains the _gdal file which is being import by osgeo.gdal which is in my case:
# 'C:\\Apps\\Anaconda\\Anaconda3\\lib\\site-packages\\osgeo\\_gdal.cp35-win_amd64.pyd'
# copy this file to your dist folder using shutil
dist_dir = "dist"
shutil.copy(pathname, dist_dir)

This approach works for me using python 3.5.3 and gdal 2.2.0

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