Packaging tkinter applications for distribution

When it comes to developing graphical user interfaces (GUIs) in Python, the tkinter library is one of the most popular choices. It provides a simple and efficient way to create desktop applications with a wide range of features. However, once you're done building your tkinter application, you might encounter the need to package and distribute it to others. In this article, we'll explore the process of packaging tkinter applications for distribution, allowing your users to effortlessly install and run your application on their machines.

Step 1: Preparing your application

Before you start packaging your tkinter application, it's essential to ensure that your code is well-organized and ready for distribution. Some key aspects to consider include:

1. Code structure

Make sure your application's code follows a modular structure and is organized into different files for ease of navigation. This will help in maintaining and debugging the codebase, as well as making it more readable for others who may be working on it.

2. Dependencies

Identify and list all the dependencies your application requires to run successfully, including both Python libraries and any external resources. It is important to keep track of these dependencies as they will be needed during the packaging process.

3. Application assets

Incorporate any necessary assets such as images, icons, or configuration files that your application relies on. These should be properly referenced in your code so that they are packaged correctly.

Step 2: Choosing a packaging tool

To package a tkinter application, you have several options, each with its own advantages and limitations. Here are two commonly used tools for packaging tkinter applications:

  1. PyInstaller:

    • PyInstaller is a widely used tool for converting Python applications into standalone executables that can run on any machine.
    • It analyzes your application's entire codebase, including external dependencies, and bundles everything into a single executable file.
    • PyInstaller supports packaging tkinter applications with relatively minimal configuration.
  2. cx_Freeze:

    • cx_Freeze is another popular tool used to convert Python scripts into executable files.
    • It works by freezing the Python interpreter along with your application code and its dependencies, creating a standalone executable.
    • cx_Freeze requires some configuration to properly package tkinter applications, but it offers more flexibility and customization options.

Choose the packaging tool that best fits your needs and proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Packaging your application

In this step, we'll focus on using PyInstaller to package a tkinter application, as it is a straightforward and widely adopted tool. Follow these steps to package your application:

  1. Install PyInstaller using pip: pip install pyinstaller

  2. Open a command prompt or terminal and navigate to the directory containing your application's main script.

  3. Execute the PyInstaller command to create a standalone executable: shell pyinstaller --onefile

  4. PyInstaller will analyze your code, gather dependencies, and generate the executable in the same directory.

  5. Test the generated executable by running it on your machine to ensure it works as expected. Ensure your application's GUI elements, such as windows, buttons, and labels, are displayed correctly.

Step 4: Distributing your application

Now that you have a packaged version of your tkinter application, it's time to distribute it to your users. Here are a few distribution options you can explore:

  1. Zip archive:

    • Create a zip file containing the executable, along with any required assets and a README file with instructions.
    • Users can extract the contents and run the executable.
  2. Installer:

    • Use a tool like Inno Setup or NSIS (Nullsoft Scriptable Install System) to create an installer for your application.
    • This will provide users with a more user-friendly installation experience, allowing them to choose installation options and create desktop shortcuts.
  3. Application store:

    • Consider distributing your application through popular application stores like Microsoft Store or App Store.
    • This can simplify the installation process for users and provide additional exposure for your application.

Choose the distribution method that aligns with your application's target audience and your preferred distribution channels.


Packaging and distributing tkinter applications for distribution doesn't have to be a daunting task. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully package your tkinter application and share it with others. Remember to test your packaged application on different machines to ensure compatibility and address any potential issues. With your application packaged, you can now reach a wider audience and provide users with an effortless installation experience.

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