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Python for Mac OS X

Python comes pre-installed on Mac OS X so it is easy to start using. However, to take advantage of the latest versions of Python, you will need to download and install newer versions alongside the system ones. The easiest way to do that is to install one of the binary installers for OS X from the Python Download page. Installers are available for the latest Python 3 and Python 2 releases that will work on all Macs that run Mac OS X 10.5 and later.

Python releases include IDLE, Python's built-in interactive development environment. If you download and install Python from the release page, you may also need to download and install a newer version of Tcl/Tk for OS X. See the IDLE and Tkinter on OS X page for more information.

You can run a Python interpreter by double-clicking on Applications / Utilities / Terminal and typing python3 (if you've installed a version of Python 3) or python (to use Python 2) in the window that opens up. You can also launch IDLE for the Python version you have installed by double-clicking its icon in the appropriate Python version folder in the Applications folder or you can also just type idle3 or idle in a terminal window.

There are many thousands of additional Python software packages available through PyPI, the Python Package Index. We recommend you use the pip tool to simplify installing and managing additional packages. pip is included with Python 3.4 releases; for earlier releases, follow the pip install instructions.

Among the packages available through PyPI are some that are specifically for OS X environments. Among these are:

  • pyobjc which provides a bridge between Python and Objective-C, allowing you to write full-featured native Cocoa applications in pure Python.
  • py2app which allows you to make standalone OS X double-clickable application bundles and plugins from Python scripts.

For more information about Python on OS X, see the mailing list and archives for the Python-Macintosh Special Interest Group.

Alternative Packages for Mac OS X.

  • ActiveState ActivePython (commercial and community versions, including scientific computing modules).
  • Enthought Python Distribution The Enthought Python Distribution provides scientists with a comprehensive set of tools to perform rigorous data analysis and visualization.

Python and a comprehensive set of third-party packages and libraries are also available from several open source package manager projects for OS X, including: