MicroPython manifest files


MicroPython has a feature that allows Python code to be “frozen” into the firmware, as an alternative to loading code from the filesystem.

This has the following benefits:

  • the code is pre-compiled to bytecode, avoiding the need for the Python source to be compiled at load-time.

  • the bytecode can be executed directly from ROM (i.e. flash memory) rather than being copied into RAM. Similarly any constant objects (strings, tuples, etc) are loaded from ROM also. This can lead to significantly more memory being available for your application.

  • on devices that do not have a filesystem, this is the only way to load Python code.

During development, freezing is generally not recommended as it will significantly slow down your development cycle, as each update will require re-flashing the entire firmware. However, it can still be useful to selectively freeze some rarely-changing dependencies (such as third-party libraries).

The way to list the Python files to be be frozen into the firmware is via a “manifest”, which is a Python file that will be interpreted by the build process. Typically you would write a manifest file as part of a board definition, but you can also write a stand-alone manifest file and use it with an existing board definition.

Manifest files can define dependencies on libraries from micropython-lib as well as Python files on the filesystem, and also on other manifest files.

Writing manifest files

A manifest file is a Python file containing a series of function calls. See the available functions defined below.

Any paths used in manifest files can include the following variables. These all resolve to absolute paths.

  • $(MPY_DIR) – path to the micropython repo.

  • $(MPY_LIB_DIR) – path to the micropython-lib submodule. Prefer to use require().

  • $(PORT_DIR) – path to the current port (e.g. ports/stm32)

  • $(BOARD_DIR) – path to the current board (e.g. ports/stm32/boards/PYBV11)

Custom manifest files should not live in the main MicroPython repository. You should keep them in version control with the rest of your project.

Typically a manifest used for compiling firmware will need to include the port manifest, which might include frozen modules that are required for the board to function. If you just want to add additional modules to an existing board, then include the board manifest (which will in turn include the port manifest).

Building with a custom manifest

Your manifest can be specified on the make command line with:

$ make BOARD=MYBOARD FROZEN_MANIFEST=/path/to/my/project/manifest.py

This applies to all ports, including CMake-based ones (e.g. esp32, rp2), as the Makefile wrapper that will pass this into the CMake build.

Adding a manifest to a board definition

If you have a custom board definition, you can make it include your custom manifest automatically. On make-based ports (most ports), in your mpconfigboard.mk set the FROZEN_MANIFEST variable.


On CMake-based ports (e.g. esp32, rp2), instead use mpconfigboard.cmake


High-level functions

Note: The opt keyword argument can be set on the various functions, this controls the optimisation level used by the cross-compiler. See micropython.opt_level().

package(package_path, files=None, base_path='.', opt=None)

This is equivalent to copying the “package_path” directory to the device (except as frozen code).

In the simplest case, to freeze a package “foo” in the current directory:


will recursively include all .py files in foo, and will be frozen as foo/**/*.py.

If the package isn’t in the same directory as the manifest file, use base_path:

package("foo", base_path="path/to/libraries")

You can use the variables above, such as $(PORT_DIR) in base_path.

To restrict to certain files in the package use files (note: paths should be relative to the package): package("foo", files=["bar/baz.py"]).

module(module_path, base_path='.', opt=None)

Include a single Python file as a module.

If the file is in the current directory:


Otherwise use base_path to locate the file:

module("foo.py", base_path="src/drivers")

You can use the variables above, such as $(PORT_DIR) in base_path.

require(name, unix_ffi=False)

Require a package by name (and its dependencies) from micropython-lib.

Optionally specify unix_ffi=True to use a module from the unix-ffi directory.


Include another manifest.

Typically a manifest used for compiling firmware will need to include the port manifest, which might include frozen modules that are required for the board to function.

The manifest argument can be a string (filename) or an iterable of strings.

Relative paths are resolved with respect to the current manifest file.

If the path is to a directory, then it implicitly includes the manifest.py file inside that directory.

You can use the variables above, such as $(PORT_DIR) in manifest_path.

metadata(description=None, version=None, license=None, author=None)

Define metadata for this manifest file. This is useful for manifests for micropython-lib packages.

Low-level functions

These functions are documented for completeness, but with the exception of freeze_as_str all functionality can be accessed via the high-level functions.

freeze(path, script=None, opt=0)

Freeze the input specified by path, automatically determining its type. A .py script will be compiled to a .mpy first then frozen, and a .mpy file will be frozen directly.

path must be a directory, which is the base directory to begin searching for files. When importing the resulting frozen modules, the name of the module will start after path, i.e. path is excluded from the module name.

If path is relative, it is resolved to the current manifest.py.

If script is None, all files in path will be frozen.

If script is an iterable then freeze() is called on all items of the iterable (with the same path and opt passed through).

If script is a string then it specifies the file or directory to freeze, and can include extra directories before the file or last directory. The file or directory will be searched for in path. If script is a directory then all files in that directory will be frozen.

opt is the optimisation level to pass to mpy-cross when compiling .py to .mpy. These levels are described in micropython.opt_level().


Freeze the given path and all .py scripts within it as a string, which will be compiled upon import.

freeze_as_mpy(path, script=None, opt=0)

Freeze the input by first compiling the .py scripts to .mpy files, then freezing the resulting .mpy files. See freeze() for further details on the arguments.

freeze_mpy(path, script=None, opt=0)

Freeze the input, which must be .mpy files that are frozen directly. See freeze() for further details on the arguments.


To freeze a single file from the current directory which will be available as import mydriver, use:


To freeze a directory of files in a subdirectory “mydriver” of the current directory which will be available as import mydriver, use:


To freeze the “hmac” library from micropython-lib, use:


A more complete example of a custom manifest.py file for the PYBD_SF2 board is:

# Include the board's default manifest.
# Add a custom driver
# Add aiorepl from micropython-lib

Then the board can be compiled with

$ cd ports/stm32
$ make BOARD=PYBD_SF2 FROZEN_MANIFEST=~/src/myproject/manifest.py

Note that most boards do not have their own manifest.py, rather they use the port one directly, in which case your manifest should just include("$(PORT_DIR)/boards/manifest.py") instead.