In [3]:
# Should pop up a GUI window
%pylab qt
plot([1,2,3])

Welcome to pylab, a matplotlib-based Python environment [backend: Qt4Agg].
For more information, type 'help(pylab)'.

Out[3]:
[<matplotlib.lines.Line2D at 0x4566850>]
In [4]:
# Should make an inline figure
%pylab inline
plot([1,2,3])

Welcome to pylab, a matplotlib-based Python environment [backend: module://IPython.zmq.pylab.backend_inline].
For more information, type 'help(pylab)'.

Out[4]:
[<matplotlib.lines.Line2D at 0x4830ad0>]
In [11]:
# New GUI window--should *NOT* have the visual settings of inline
%pylab qt
plot([1,2,3])

Welcome to pylab, a matplotlib-based Python environment [backend: Qt4Agg].
For more information, type 'help(pylab)'.

Out[11]:
[<matplotlib.lines.Line2D at 0x5253850>]
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