How to change matplotlib backends

Six years later and I came across a similar issue, when trying to decide which backend was available to use.
Note see Caveats – below

This code snippet works well for me:

import matplotlib
gui_env = ['TKAgg','GTKAgg','Qt4Agg','WXAgg']
for gui in gui_env:
        print("testing", gui)
        matplotlib.use(gui,warn=False, force=True)
        from matplotlib import pyplot as plt

Using: GTKAgg

As you can deduce, swapping the backend is as simple as re-importing matplotlib.pyplot after forcing the new backend

matplotlib.use('WXAgg',warn=False, force=True)
from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
print("Switched to:",matplotlib.get_backend())

Switched to: WXAgg

For those still having trouble, this code will print out the:
list of Non Gui backends;
the list of Gui backends;
and then attempt to use each Gui backend to see if it is present and functioning.

import matplotlib
gui_env = [i for i in matplotlib.rcsetup.interactive_bk]
non_gui_backends = matplotlib.rcsetup.non_interactive_bk
print ("Non Gui backends are:", non_gui_backends)
print ("Gui backends I will test for", gui_env)
for gui in gui_env:
    print ("testing", gui)
        matplotlib.use(gui,warn=False, force=True)
        from matplotlib import pyplot as plt
        print ("    ",gui, "Is Available")
        fig = plt.gcf()
        print ("Using ..... ",matplotlib.get_backend())
        print ("    ",gui, "Not found")

Caveats: Changes in matplotlib since version 3.3.0

  • The first parameter of matplotlib.use has been renamed from arg to
    backend (only relevant if you pass by keyword).
  • The parameter warn of matplotlib.use has been removed. A failure to switch the
    backend will now always raise an ImportError if force is set; catch
    that error if necessary.
  • All parameters of matplotlib.use except the first one are now keyword-only.

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