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install_sentence_transformers() installs the sentence-transformers python package and its direct dependencies. This code is taken and only slightly modified from the tensorflow and reticulate packages. See the original code here: tensorflow::install_tensorflow().


  method = c("auto", "virtualenv", "conda"),
  conda = "auto",
  version = NULL,
  envname = NULL,
  extra_packages = NULL,
  restart_session = TRUE,
  conda_python_version = NULL,
  pip_ignore_installed = TRUE,
  python_version = conda_python_version



Installation method. By default, "auto" automatically finds a method that will work in the local environment. Change the default to force a specific installation method. Note that the "virtualenv" method is not available on Windows.


The path to a conda executable. Use "auto" to allow reticulate to automatically find an appropriate conda binary. See Finding Conda and conda_binary() for more details.


version to install. Valid values include:

  • "release" installs the latest release version of sentence-transformers (which may be incompatible with the current version of the R package)

  • A version specification like "2.4" or "2.4.0". Note that if the patch version is not supplied, the latest patch release is installed (e.g., "2.4" today installs version "2.4.2")

  • nightly for the latest available nightly build.

  • The full URL or path to a installer binary or python *.whl file.


The name, or full path, of the environment in which Python packages are to be installed. When NULL (the default), the active environment as set by the RETICULATE_PYTHON_ENV variable will be used; if that is unset, then the r-reticulate environment will be used.


Additional Python packages to install along with TensorFlow.


Restart R session after installing (note this will only occur within RStudio).


other arguments passed to reticulate::conda_install() or reticulate::virtualenv_install(), depending on the method used.


Whether pip should ignore installed python packages and reinstall all already installed python packages. This defaults to TRUE, to ensure that TensorFlow dependencies like NumPy are compatible with the prebuilt TensorFlow binaries.

python_version, conda_python_version

Pass a string like "3.8" to request that conda install a specific Python version. This is ignored when attempting to install in a Python virtual environment.


You may be prompted to download and install miniconda if reticulate did not find a non-system installation of python. Miniconda is the recommended installation method for most users, as it ensures that the R python installation is isolated from other python installations. All python packages will by default be installed into a self-contained conda or venv environment named "r-reticulate". Note that "conda" is the only supported method on M1 Mac. If you initially declined the miniconda installation prompt, you can later manually install miniconda by running reticulate::install_miniconda().

Custom Installation

install_sentence_transformers() or isn't required to use tensorflow with the package. If you manually configure a python environment with the required dependencies, you can tell R to use it by pointing reticulate at it, commonly by setting an environment variable:

Sys.setenv("RETICULATE_PYTHON" = "~/path/to/python-env/bin/python")

Additional Packages

If you wish to add additional PyPI packages to your Keras / TensorFlow environment you can either specify the packages in the extra_packages argument of install_sentence_transformers(), or alternatively install them into an existing environment using the reticulate::py_install() function.