How to Upgrade Python Packages with Pip

Want to upgrade the Python packages installed with Pip? Here's what you need to know about updating Python packages with Pip.
Warp Terminal

When was the last that you updated Python packages installed via Pip? Most of the users tend to forget that those packages also need to be updated, as just updating the system repository is not going to work here.

So letโ€™s take a moment and see how to update old Python packages with Pip.

Upgrading Pip packages may break things, Ensure that you are using Python virtual environment and have a valid reason for upgrading the Python package.

How to use pip to upgrade Python packages

Pip (Pip Installs Packages) is a command line utility to manage python packages. You can think of this as how we use apt to manage packages in Ubuntu and Debian.

So letโ€™s dive deep into how you can use this fab utility to manage everything related to Python packages.

1. List outdated packages

Listing the outdated packages is the best idea to plan how you want to update packages as not many want to update their entire library of packages at once and wants to be selective.

To list outdated packages of Python, you just have to pair pip command with list option and --outdated flag as shown:

pip list --outdated
outdated packages

2. Upgrade a specific package

Once you get the list of the packages that need to be updated, you can be selective as I mentioned earlier, and to update a specific package, youโ€™ll need to follow the given command syntax:

pip install package_name -U

For example, I want to upgrade the package named anime-api to the most recent version, so Iโ€™ll be using the given command:

pip install anime-api -U
update anime api

3. Upgrade package to specific version

It is not necessary to use only the most recent version of the software (cough Debian cough) and if you are in need of using packages to a specific version that may or may not be the most recent software, can be done using the given command syntax:

pip install --upgrade <package>==<version>

So I want to update the package named xdg to version 5.1 which is one point release behind the most recent build so my command would be:

pip install --upgrade xdg==5.1
upgrade xdg to specific iteration

4. Upgrade every package using Pip

While this is doable in theory, I do not recommend upgrading every package at once as most of the time, the dependencies are too complex to be handled.

To upgrade every python package, youโ€™d need to follow the given command:

pip3 list --outdated --format=freeze | grep -v '^\-e' | cut -d = -f 1 | xargs -n1 pip3 install -U 
upgrade everything

The above command utilizes xargs. First, it will grab the packages that are needed to be updated and then perform pip3 install -U command over each package.

And I used pip3 here instead of pip. In Ubuntu 22.04 and later, both pip and pip3 commands are available.

Wrapping Up

Upgrading everything at once has never been a good idea in the case of pip. And I found myself in a state of broken dependencies so make sure you know what you will have.

Considering that Ubuntu is deprecating the use of pip, it's better to start moving to Pipx instead.

Install and Use pipx in Ubuntu & Other Linux
Pipx addresses the shortcomings of the popular pip tool. Learn to install and use Pipx in Linux.

And if you have any queries, feel free to ask in the comments.

About the author
Sagar Sharma

Sagar Sharma

A software engineer who loves to write about his experience with Linux. While reviving my crashed system, you can find me reading literature, manga, or watering my plants.

Become a Better Linux User

With the FOSS Weekly Newsletter, you learn useful Linux tips, discover applications, explore new distros and stay updated with the latest from Linux world


Great! Youโ€™ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to It's FOSS.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.