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How to install Python and start coding on Windows, Mac, or Linux
Python is one of the most powerful, and beginner-friendly programming languages in the world. It can come as a surprise then, to discover just how complicated it can be to learn how to install python on Linux, Windows, or Mac! With multiple different versions, an interpreter, and multiple different editors and IDEs options to choose from… this can be a bit of a headache!
Also read: Best online Python courses
Read on then, and we’ll go through how to install Python step-by-step, so that you start coding.
What you will need
When you learn how to install Python, you will need to install two main elements:
- A python interpreter
- A python IDE
The interpreter is the program that runs in the background and that allows your computer to understand Python. Think of it a little bit like a language pack!
The IDE is the “integrated development environment.” This provides you with a handy space to create your Python code that will show you any errors you might be about to make, let you run your files, and generally give you everything you need in one place.
You can grab the interpreter here:
- Windows: https://www.python.org/downloads/windows/
- Mac: https://www.python.org/downloads/mac-osx/
- Linux: https://www.python.org/downloads/source/
The good news is that you probably already have a python interpreter installed if you are on either Mac or Linux!
The other good news, is that you don’t actually need to install an IDE to get started! Instead, you can use the Python shell to start coding. Just launch that program, then go to “New File” and you can start writing code!
The bad news is that you will need to choose between two versions of Python: Python 2 and Python 3. Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses, but Python 2 is no longer officially supported, so we recommend choosing Python 3.
Read our introduction to Python for more on these differences:
And, simply, that is how to install Python! But if you want a better experience, then you should probably find a good IDE that will streamline the coding process for you.
How to install Python IDEs
When you learn Android development, you will almost always use Android Studio as your go-to IDE. This is the official solution provided by Google, and as such, it comes with all the tools you might want for building Android apps specifically. Python is a much more flexible and varied programming language though, meaning that it can be used to build all kinds of different projects. To that end, there is no single “best” IDE, and it rather comes down to a matter of choice.
My recommendation is actually to try building Python apps using Visual Studio. Visual Studio is an IDE from Microsoft that is very powerful and flexible.
When installing Visual Studio, you’ll be given the option to include or ignore different components. However, you’ll also be able to head back into the Visual Studio Installer at any point subsequently in order to grab the additional pieces you want.
Of course, we’re going to be adding the Python development components, which you can get all together by clicking Python development under “Workloads.”
Also read: How to call a function in Python
Once this is done, you’ll have the option to start a new Python project in Visual Studio. This is a powerful and flexible IDE and a great for those that want to know how to install Python. It is also available on both Windows and Mac.
How to install Python on Linux
So how to install Python on Linux with Visual Studio? One option is to use Visual Studio Code. This is a free code editor that runs on Linux and that has many of the same features – including support for Python. As mentioned, most Linux machines will come with Python built in, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to grab the interpreter. From there, you can go ahead and set up Visual Studio Code for Python.
Alternative IDEs and editors
If you’re not keen on using Visual Studio, there are plenty of alternative IDEs and editors you can use once you know how to install Python. The only problem is that only a few of these are free, and many don’t come with the same broad base of support that Visual Studio does.
The following are all free, however:
PyCharm is free to use, widely supported, and available on Windows, Mac, and Linux – so it is definitely one of the best options. For those happy to part with some cash, Sublime Text is a very clean and powerful IDE.
Finally, you can also grab Python on Android and iOS. The good news is that these require only a single download and you can then run and test your code right in the app!
Android: QPython 3L
So, that is how to install Python! There are lots of options available for editors, and ultimately this will come down to your personal preference.Now you’re ready to start learning to code, why not check out our guide to the best online Python courses? We also highly recommend Coding with Python: Training for Aspiring Developers, which you can nab for just $49.99, which is an absolute steal as the course is valued around $700.