Set up a clean environment

Many things can cause a broken environment. You might be on an unsupported version of Python. Another package might be installed that has a name or version conflict. Often, the best way to guarantee a correct environment is with virtualenv, like:

# Install pip if it is not available:
$ which pip || curl | python

# Install virtualenv if it is not available:
$ which virtualenv || pip install --upgrade virtualenv

# *If* the above command displays an error, you can try installing as root:
$ sudo pip install virtualenv

# Create a virtual environment:
$ virtualenv -p python3 ~/.venv-py3

# Activate your new virtual environment:
$ source ~/.venv-py3/bin/activate

# With virtualenv active, make sure you have the latest packaging tools
$ pip install --upgrade pip setuptools

# Now we can install
$ pip install --upgrade web3


Remember that each new terminal session requires you to reactivate your virtualenv, like: $ source ~/.venv-py3/bin/activate

Why can’t I use a particular function?

Note that a instance must be configured before you can use most of its capabilities. One symptom of not configuring the instance first is an error that looks something like this: AttributeError: type object 'Web3' has no attribute 'eth'.

To properly configure your instance, specify which provider you’re using to connect to the Ethereum network. An example configuration, if you’re connecting to a locally run node, might be:

>>> from web3 import Web3
>>> w3 = Web3(Web3.HTTPProvider('http://localhost:8545'))

# now `w3` is available to use:
>>> w3.isConnected()
>>> w3.eth.send_transaction(...)

Refer to the Providers documentation for further help with configuration.

Why isn’t my web3 instance connecting to the network?

You can check that your instance is connected via the isConnected method:

>>> w3.isConnected()

There’s a variety of explanations for why you may see False here. If you’re running a local node, such as Geth, double-check that you’ve indeed started the binary and that you’ve started it from the intended directory - particularly if you’ve specified a relative path to its ipc file.

If that does not address your issue, it’s probable that you still have a Provider configuration issue. There are several options for configuring a Provider, detailed here.

How do I use my MetaMask accounts from

Often you don’t need to do this, just make a new account in, and transfer funds from your MetaMask account into it. But if you must…

Export your private key from MetaMask, and use the local private key tools in to sign and send transactions.

See how to export your private key and Working with Local Private Keys.

How do I get ether for my test network?

Test networks usually have something called a “faucet” to help get test ether to people who want to use it. The faucet simply sends you test ether when you visit a web page, or ping a chat bot, etc.

Each test network has its own version of test ether, so each one must maintain its own faucet. If you’re not sure which test network to use, see Which network should I connect to?

Faucet mechanisms tend to come and go, so if any information here is out of date, try the Ethereum Stackexchange. Here are some links to testnet ether instructions (in no particular order):

Why can’t I create an account?

If you’re seeing the error The method personal_newAccount does not exist/is not available, you may be trying to create an account while connected to a remote node provider, like Infura. As a matter of security, remote nodes cannot create accounts.

If you are in fact running a local node, make sure that it’s properly configured to accept personal methods. For Geth, that looks something like: --http.api personal,eth,<etc> or --ws.api personal,eth,<etc> depending on your configuration. Note that the IPC configuration is most secure and includes the personal API by default.

In general, your options for accounts are:

  • Run a node (e.g., Geth) locally, connect to it via the local port, then use the personal API.

  • Import a keystore file for an account and extract the private key.

  • Create an account via the eth-account API, e.g., new_acct = w3.eth.account.create().

  • Use an external service (e.g., MyCrypto) to generate a new account, then securely import its private key.


Don’t store real value in an account until you are familiar with security best practices. If you lose your private key, you lose your account!