VirtualFish comes with a number of built-in plugins.

You can use them by passing their names as arguments to the vf install command. For example, the following will activate the compat_aliases, projects, and environment plugins:

vf install compat_aliases projects environment

Virtualenvwrapper Compatibility Aliases (compat_aliases)

This plugin provides some global commands to make VirtualFish behave more like Doug Hellman’s virtualenvwrapper.


  • workon <envname> = vf activate <envname>
  • deactivate = vf deactivate
  • mkvirtualenv [<options>] <envname> = vf new [<options>] <envname>
  • mktmpenv [<options>] = vf tmp [<options>]
  • rmvirtualenv = vf rm <envname>
  • lsvirtualenv = vf ls
  • cdvirtualenv = vf cd
  • cdsitepackages = vf cdpackages
  • add2virtualenv = vf addpath
  • allvirtualenv = vf all
  • setvirtualenvproject = vf connect

Auto-activation (auto_activation)

With this plugin enabled, VirtualFish can automatically activate a virtualenv when you are in a certain directory. To configure it to do so, change to the directory, activate the desired virtualenv, and run vf connect.

This will save the name of the virtualenv to a file named .venv. VirtualFish will then look for this file every time you cd into the directory (or pushd, or anything else that modifies $PWD).


When this plugin is enabled, ensure any modifications to your $PATH in your happen before VirtualFish is loaded.


  • vf connect - Connect the current virtualenv to the current directory, so that it is activated automatically as soon as you enter it (and deactivated as soon as you leave).

Configuration Variables

  • VIRTUALFISH_ACTIVATION_FILE (default: .venv) - the name of the file VirtualFish will use for the auto-activation feature. Earlier versions of VirtualFish used .vfenv.

State Variables

  • VF_AUTO_ACTIVATED - If the currently-activated virtualenv was activated automatically, set to the directory that triggered the activation. Otherwise unset.

Global Requirements (global_requirements)

Keeps a global requirements.txt file that is applied to every existing and new virtual environment. This behavior can be disabled for a given session by setting the VIRTUALFISH_GLOBAL_REQUIREMENTS environment variable to “0”. To disable on a per-invocation basis, prefix commands with the same variable:



  • vf requirements - Edit the global requirements file in your $EDITOR. Applies the requirements to all virtualenvs on exit.

Projects (projects)

This plugin adds project management capabilities, including automatic directory switching upon virtual environment activation. Typically a project directory contains files — such as source code managed by a version control system — that are often stored separately from the virtual environment.

The following example will create a new project, with a matching virtual environment, both named YourProject:

vf project YourProject

The above command performs the following tasks:

  1. creates new empty project directory in PROJECT_HOME (if there is no existing YourProject directory within) and changes the current working directory to it
  2. creates new virtual environment named YourProject and activates it

To work on an existing project, use the vf workon <name> command to activate the specified virtual environment and change the current working directory to the project of the same name. For cases in which the project name differs from the target virtualenv name, you can manually specify which virtualenv should be activated for a given project by creating a .venv file inside the project root containing the name of the corresponding virtualenv.

If you use sub-folders, have projects located outside of PROJECT_HOME, or utilize a project organization strategy that does not lend itself to storing all your projects in the root of a single directory, you may navigate to your project and associate the current working directory with the currently-activated virtual environment via the following example steps:

vf activate YourVirtualenv
cd /path/to/your/project
echo $PWD > $VIRTUALENV/.project

In the future, you may then run vf workon YourVirtualenv to simultaneously activate YourVirtualenv and switch to the /path/to/your/project directory.


If you are using both the Compatibility Aliases and Projects plugins, workon will alias vf workon instead of vf activate.


  • vf project <virtualenv-options> <name> - Create a new project and matching virtual environment with the specified name and Virtualenv options, including the ability to specify a Python interpreter via --python. If the compat_aliases plugin is enabled, mkproject is aliased to this command.
  • vf workon <name> - Search for a project and/or virtualenv matching the specified name. If found, this activates the appropriate virtualenv and switches to the respective project directory. If the compat_aliases plugin is enabled, workon is aliased to this command.
  • vf lsprojects - List projects available in $PROJECT_HOME (see below)
  • vf cdproject - Search for a project matching the name of the currently activated virtualenv. If found, this switches to the respective project directory. If the compat_aliases plugin is enabled, cdproject is aliased to this command.

Configuration Variables

  • PROJECT_HOME (default: ~/projects/) - Where to create new projects and where to look for existing projects.

Environment Variables (environment)

This plugin provides the ability to automatically set environment variables when a virtual environment is activated. The environment variables are stored in a .env file by default. This can be configured by setting VIRTUALFISH_ENVIRONMENT_FILE to the desired file name. When using the Projects (projects) plugin, the env file is stored in the project directory unless it is manually created in the $VIRTUAL_ENV directory. If the projects plugin isn’t being used, the file is stored in the $VIRTUAL_ENV directory.

When the virtualenv is activated, the values in the env file will be added to the environment. If a variable with that name already exists, that value is stored in __VF_ENVIRONMENT_OLD_VALUE_$key.

When the virtual environment is deactivated, if there was a pre-existing value it is returned to the environment. Otherwise, the variable is erased.

The format of the env file is one key-value set per line separated by an =. Empty lines are ignored, as are any lines that start with #. See the following:

# This is a valid comment and declaration

# The empty line above is valid
BAR=baz  # Inline comments like this one are NOT okay


  • vf environment - Open the environment file for the active virtual environment in $VISUAL/$EDITOR, or vi if neither variable is set.

Update Python (update_python)

This plugin adds commands to change the Python interpreter of the current virtual environment.


  • vf update_python [<python_exe>] - Remove the current virtual environment and create a new one with <python_exe> (defaults to VIRTUALFISH_DEFAULT_PYTHON if it is set, or the first executable named python in your PATH), and then re-install the same versions of all packages with Pip.
  • vf fix_python [<python_exe>] - Test the current virtual environment’s Python executable. If it doesn’t work, update it with vf update_python [<python_exe>]. This may be useful when one of your system’s Python executables is updated, which may break some of your virtual environments. In that case, you probably just need to run: vf all vf fix_python

Configuration Variables

  • VIRTUALFISH_DEFAULT_PYTHON (default: python) - The Python interpreter to use if not specified as an argument to the above commands.