Trying to import gdal from osgeo and I'm getting this error;

ImportError: DLL load failed while importing _gdal: The specified module could not be found.

On Windows, with Python >= 3.8, DLLs are no longer imported from the PATH.
If gdalXXX.dll is in the PATH, then set the USE_PATH_FOR_GDAL_PYTHON=YES environment variable
to feed the PATH into os.add_dll_directory().

I have seen this error referenced in a number of places but no solution that I can see, some suggest using conda or miniconda to make a virtual environment but that isn't an option for me. I just want to be able to use gdal from my QGIS python console and pyCharm console directly.

What does this error mean? How can I set my USE_PATH_FOR_GDAL_PYTHON=YES? Do I use OSGeo4W Shell? Do I need to edit a BAT file? How is os.add_dll_directory() used to feed the PATH? What PATH is it looking for? Am I just importing gdal incorrectly with from osgeo import gdal? Is there another way to import gdal? OS Windows 10, OSGeo4W installed on C:, QGIS 3.22.6, PyCharm 2021.1.1, Python3.9(C:\OSGeo4W\apps\Python39\python.exe)

2 Answers 2


In using this guide https://spatialgalaxy.net/2018/02/13/quick-guide-to-getting-started-with-pyqgis3-on-windows/ I was able to create a bat file that when run loads all the proper paths for

@echo off
SET OSGEO4W_ROOT=C:\OSGeo4W :: Change this to OSGeo4w or OSGeo4W64
call "%OSGEO4W_ROOT%"\bin\o4w_env.bat 
call "%OSGEO4W_ROOT%"\apps\grass\grass-7.4.0\etc\env.bat :: "grass-7.4.0" will need to be replaced with your grass version in ...apps\grass Newer versions use grass78 or grass80
@echo off
path %PATH%;%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\apps\qgis\bin
path %PATH%;%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\apps\grass\grass-7.4.0\lib :: See note on grass versions
path %PATH%;C:\OSGeo4W3\apps\Qt5\bin
path %PATH%;C:\OSGeo4W3\apps\Python36\Scripts :: Python36 references will need to be changed, newer versions use Python39

set PYTHONHOME=%OSGEO4W_ROOT%\apps\Python36 :: See python note

set PATH=C:\Program Files\Git\bin;%PATH%

cmd.exe :: Delete this line and add 'start "PyCharm aware of QGIS" /B "PATHTOPYCHARM.exe"'

Run the bat file and you should get a PyCharm running with OSGeo4W paths and a working osgeo and gdal, you need to import gdal from osgeo

from osgeo import gdal
  • That guide is ancient, outdated and should not be used anymore. Commented May 4, 2023 at 19:49
  • <QGIS-dir>\bin\python-qgis[-ltr].bat Commented May 4, 2023 at 19:50
  • But the process works, just needs to be updated for newer versions of QGIS.
    – MrKingsley
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 12:17
  • Better trust the QGIS developers who do exactly that with the <QGIS-dir>\bin\python-qgis[-ltr].bat file! No one needs to manually build or copy-paste these lines anymore. Commented May 23, 2023 at 12:38
  • 2
    Perhaps then you could update the answer with your preferred way of getting Pycharm to work with QGIS.
    – MrKingsley
    Commented May 23, 2023 at 15:06

I took the error message as an instruction and did the following.

Firstly, I tried to add the custom environment variable USE_PATH_FOR_GDAL_PYTHON

environment variable USE_PATH_FOR_GDAL_PYTHON

The error message changed a bit, but it still complained about gdalXXX.dll.

So, I opened the C:\OSGeo4W folder and searched in it for gdal*.dll

OSGeo4W folder search for gdal*.dll

Then I manually copied all these folders paths and added them to my Path.

User Path

Here they are, 4 folders.

OSGeo4W gdal folders in Path

Now from osgeo import gdal works.

from osgeo import gdal


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