We kick off this Python tutorial by learning to install Python on MacOS, Windows, and Linux. We will look at multiple installation methods per platform and discuss what I think is the best option.
Most of the time, using the official installer from the python.org website is not advisable. Instead, it’s better to go for the version packaged by your operating system. The advantage of an OS-supplied version is that you’ll get automatic updates.
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Install Python on Windows
There are three methods you can choose from on Windows.
Using The Microsoft Store
Microsoft hosts a community release of Python 3 in the Microsoft Store. This is the recommended way to install Python on Windows because it handles updates automatically and can be uninstalled easily too.
To use this method:
- open the Microsoft store and search for Python
- Pick the newest version and install it
With the official installer
You can download a Python installer from the official Python download website too. This method does not give you automatic updates; I recommend it only if you don’t have access to the Microsoft store. When you use this installer, make sure you mark the checkbox that says ‘Add Python to PATH’:
If you’re familiar with Windows Subsystem For Linux, you may also want to consider that option. It’s what I use myself, and I truly love it. It offers me the advantages that Windows offers (mainly great hardware support) while still enjoying Linux, which is, in my opinion, the best platform for Python development.
To install in WSL, you’ll first need to install WSL itself. Go for WSL2 if you can. It’s much better. After that, follow the Linux installation instructions below!
Installation on MacOS
On most versions of MacOS before Catalina, a distribution of Python is already included. Unfortunately, it’s almost certainly an old version, Python 2.7. Luckily, there are two ways to easily install Python 3 on a Mac.
First and foremost, I recommend looking into Homebrew. It allows you to install almost anything easily. The added benefits:
- Homebrew packages are usually very up-to-date.
- It’s also easy to upgrade to newer versions later on.
However, you must be comfortable using a command-line shell to use Homebrew. If that’s entirely new for you, I recommend the following option for now: using the official installer.
If you choose to install Homebrew, installing Python on MacOS is as easy as:
$ brew install pythonCode language: Bash (bash)
Alternatively, you can download an installer from the Python download website. It’s easy and works like the installation of any other MacOS software program. The downside to this approach is that you won’t get automatic updates. Just like with Windows, you should ensure that Python is added to your system’s PATH.
Install Python on Linux
There are several ways to install Python on Linux, that is if you need to install it at all!
Check what’s installed first
Most Linux distributions include Python. Many will include both Python 2 and Python 3.
If you enter
python --version on the command line, you’ll see the version number. It’s probably version 2.7:
$ python --version
Python 2.7.16Code language: Bash (bash)
Unfortunately, you don’t want Python 2, but some OS’es still ship with it.
python3 --version. If you get a “command not found,” you must install Python 3. If your output looks similar to this, you’re in luck:
$ python3 --version
Python 3.8.5Code language: Bash (bash)
Using a package manager
Depending on the distribution of Linux you are running, you can install Python with the default package manager: Yum, APT, etcetera. You’ll need to determine which package manager is used for your specific Linux distribution and how to use it.
If you’re on Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or Debian, you can install it using apt:
$ apt install python3 python-is-python3Code language: Bash (bash)
This also installs a package called
python-is-python3, which makes the command
python point to
python3. Trust me when I say it will save you a lot of headaches later on.
Another interesting option for Linux is using Homebrew. That’s right, the package manager for Macs also works on Linux.
The major advantages of using Homebrew:
- You’ll get the latest version of Python, instead of the version your OS shipped with
- You don’t need root access to your system. All the software installed with Homebrew is installed in your home directory
I find myself using Homebrew more and more while working under Linux — give it a try!
Python in your browser
If you don’t feel like installing Python, or you cannot install it for whatever reason, I’ll offer an alternative, too: you can use Python right from your browser; no installation necessary!
This article is part of a free Python tutorial. You can browse the tutorial with the navigation buttons at the top and bottom of the article or use the navigation menu. Want to learn more? All the Python installation methods also install a tool called pip. Pip is used to install Python packages that don’t come with the default Python installation. Later in this course, we’ll look extensively at how to use Pip and some alternatives that have even more to offer, like Python Poetry and Pipenv.