As a submodule

Having dotdrop as a submodule guarantees that anywhere you are cloning your dotfiles Git tree from you will have dotdrop shipped with it. Note that when using dotdrop as a submodule you will be tracking the master branch (and not a specific version)

The following will create a Git repository for your dotfiles and keep dotdrop as a submodule.

## create the repository
$ mkdir dotfiles; cd dotfiles
$ git init

## install dotdrop as a submodule
$ git submodule add
$ pip3 install --user -r dotdrop/requirements.txt
$ ./dotdrop/

## use dotdrop
$ ./ --help

For macOS users, make sure to install realpath through Homebrew (part of coreutils) and libmagic.

Using dotdrop as a submodule will require you to work with dotdrop by using the generated script at the root of your dotfiles repository. Note that this script updates the submodule automatically unless called with the environment variable DOTDROP_AUTOUPDATE set to no.

If you happened to encounter ModuleNotFoundError error after an update, it means the dependencies have changed and you should re-install dependencies with

pip3 install --user -r dotdrop/requirements.txt

To ease the use of dotdrop, it is recommended to add an alias to it in your shell with the config file path; for example:

alias dotdrop=<> --cfg=<path-to-your-config.yaml>'

As a submodule in a virtualenv

To install it in a virtualenv:

## create the repository
$ mkdir dotfiles; cd dotfiles
$ git init

## install dotdrop as a submodule
$ git submodule add
$ virtualenv -p python3 env
$ echo 'env' >> .gitignore
$ env/bin/pip install -r dotdrop/requirements.txt
$ ./dotdrop/

# add the following in your .bashrc/.zshrc/etc
# or hardcode it in the script

## use dotdrop
$ ./ --help

When using a virtualenv, make sure to export the DOTDROP_VIRTUALENV variable with the directory name of your virtualenv:

$ ./ --help

Then follow the instructions under As a submodule.

Submodule upgrade/downgrade

Upgrade dotdrop submodule

If using dotdrop as a submodule, one can control if dotdrop is auto-updated through the script by defining the environment variable DOTDROP_AUTOUPDATE=yes. If undefined, DOTDROP_AUTOUPDATE will take the value yes.

If used as a submodule, update it with:

$ git submodule update --init --recursive
$ git submodule update --remote dotdrop

## install dependencies
$ pip3 install --user -r dotdrop/requirements.txt

You will then need to commit the changes with:

$ git add dotdrop
$ git commit -m 'update dotdrop'
$ git push

Downgrade dotdrop submodule

If you wish to get a specific version of dotdrop when using it as a submodule, the following operations can be done.

Here dotdrop is downgraded to the latest stable version:

## enter the repository containing the dotdrop submodule
$ cd my-dotfiles
## enter the dotdrop submodule
$ cd dotdrop
## update the list of tags
$ git fetch --tags
## checkout the latest stable version
$ git checkout `git tag -l | tail -1`

If using the script, make sure it doesn't automatically update dotdrop back to the latest commit.

PyPI package

PyPI package

Install dotdrop:

$ pip3 install dotdrop --user

PyPI package in a virtualenv

Install dotdrop from PyPI in a virtualenv:

$ virtualenv -p python3 env
$ source env/bin/activate
$ pip install dotdrop

When using a virtualenv, make sure to source the environment before using dotdrop:

$ source env/bin/activate
$ dotdrop --help

Then follow the instructions under PyPI package.

pipx install

pipx allows to install a package in an isolated environment.

It is packaged in all main Linux distributions, and macOS.

PyPI package with pipx

To install the last PyPI package:

$ pipx install dotdrop

To upgrade an installed package to the last version.

$ pipx upgrade dotdrop

From GitHub with pipx

To install the from the master branch on GitHub

$ pipx install git+

You can choose a branch or commit

$ pipx install git+

Homebrew package

Homebrew package

Install dotdrop from Homebrew with:

$ brew install dotdrop


dotdrop is a Debian package since bookworm (Debian 12), be warned that the Debian version is usually behind the last stable release.

Install dotdrop

$ sudo apt install dotdrop


Ubuntu package since lunar (23.04)

Install dotdrop

$ sudo apt install dotdrop

Aur packages

Dotdrop is available on aur:

Snap package

Dotdrop is available as a snap package:

Install it with:

$ snap install dotdrop

If you encounter warnings like Warning: using regular magic file, try defining the following environment variable:

export MAGIC=$SNAP/usr/share/file/magic.mgc

From source

Clone the repository:

$ git clone

Start using it directly through the script and use the --cfg switch to make it point to your config file.

$ cd dotdrop/
$ ./ --cfg <my-config-file> files


Beside the Python dependencies defined in requirements.txt, dotdrop depends on the following tools:

  • diff (unless a different tool is used, see diff_command)
  • git (only if using the entry point script

For macOS users, make sure to install the below packages through Homebrew:

For WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux), make sure to install python-magic-bin:

pip install python-magic-bin

Shell completion

Completion scripts exist for bash, zsh and fish; see the related doc.


Highlighters for dotdrop templates are available here.