Integrating PySDL2

PySDL2 consists of two packages, sdl2, which is a plain 1:1 API wrapper around the SDL2 API, and sdl2.ext, which offers enhanced functionality for sdl2.

The sdl2 package is implemented in a way that shall make it easy for you to integrate and deploy it with your own software projects. You can rely on PySDL2 as third-party package, so that the user needs to install it before he can use your software. Alternatively, you can just copy the whole package into your project to ship it within your own project bundle.


The sdl2 package relies on an external SDL2 library for creating the wrapper functions. This means that the user needs to have SDL2 installed or that you ship a SDL2 library with your project.

If the user has a SDL2 library installed on the target system, the ctypes hooks of sdl2 try to find it in the OS-specific standard locations via ctypes.util.find_library(). If you are going to ship your own SDL2 library with the project or can not rely on the standard mechanism of ctypes, it is also possible to set the environment variable PYSDL2_DLL_PATH, which shall point to the directory of the SDL2 library or consist of a list of directories, in which the SDL2 libraries can be found.


PYSDL2_DLL_PATH is preferred over the standard mechanism. If the module finds a SDL2 library in PYSDL2_DLL_PATH, it will try to use that one in the first place, before using any SDL2 library installed on the target system.

Let’s assume, you ship your own library SDL2.dll within your project location fancy_project/third_party. You can set the environment variable PYSDL2_DLL_PATH before starting Python.

# Win32 platforms
set PYSDL2_DLL_PATH=C:\path\to\fancy_project\third_party

# Unix/Posix-alike environments - bourne shells
export PYSDL2_DLL_PATH=/path/to/fancy_project/third_party

# Unix/Posix-alike environments - C shells
setenv PYSDL2_DLL_PATH /path/to/fancy_project/third_party

# Define multiple paths to search for the libraries - Win32
set PYSDL2_DLL_PATH=C:\first\path;C:\second\path

You also can set the environment variable within Python using os.environ.

os.environ["PYSDL2_DLL_PATH"] = "C:\\path\\to\\fancy_project\\third_party"
os.environ["PYSDL2_DLL_PATH"] = "/path/to/fancy_project/third_party"


If you aim to integrate sdl directly into your software and do not want or are not allowed to change the environment variables, you can also change the os.getenv("PYSDL2_DLL_PATH") query within the sdl2/ (or sdl2/, sdl2/, sdl2/ file to point to the directory, in which you keep the DLL.

Using different SDL2 versions

PySDL2 tries to provide interfaces to the most recent versions of the SDL2 libraries. Sometimes this means that PySDL2 tries to test for functions that might not be available for your very own project or that are not available on the target system due to a version of the specific library. To check, if the SDL2 libraries do not provide certain functions, you can enable the specific warnings for them.

>>> python -W"module"::ImportWarning:sdl2.dll