How to Install Python on Mac

February 1, 2024


Python is a popular high-level programming language frequently used for scripting in web applications. Although it comes preinstalled on Macs, as of macOS 12.3, it is no longer required for the normal functioning of the operating system.

This article shows how to install Python on a Mac and set up a flexible coding environment with Visual Studio Code.

How to install Python on a Mac.


  • A computer running macOS.
  • A user with administrative privileges.

Check if Python Is Installed on Mac

Before installing Python, follow the steps below to check if it already exists on the system:

1. Open Terminal.

2. Type the following command:

python --version

If Python is installed, the command outputs the version number.

Checking the installed Python version. The command shows Python is installed on the system.

If the system does not find a working Python installation, it displays a command not found message.

Checking the installed Python version. The command shows Python is not installed on the system.

Note: Some Python 3 installations respond to the python3 command only. To check for those installations, type python3 --version.

Install Python on Mac

The best way to install Python on macOS is with the PKG file from the official website. Follow the steps below to install Python on your macOS system.

Step 1: Download Latest Version for macOS

Visit the official Python downloads page. Select the Download Python button and wait for the file download to finish.

The official Python website.

Step 2: Run Installer

Use Finder to locate the PKG installer and run it. Go through the installation steps by selecting Continue.

The initial page of the Python installer.

The Installation Type section provides two options:

  • Select Install to proceed with a standard installation.
  • Choose which components to install by selecting Customize.
The standard installation section of the Python installer.

If you choose to customize your installation, select the components you want and select Install.

The advanced installation section of the Python installer.

Wait for the installation to finish, then select Close to exit the installer.

The last page of the Python installer.

Note: If you have Homebrew installed, install Python with brew install python@[version]. For example, to install version 3.12, type brew install python@3.12.

Step 3: Verify Installation

Test the new installation by checking the Python version, as described in the Check if Python Is Installed on Mac section above.

Alternatively, if you installed GUI applications, verify the Python installation by locating and opening IDLE, Python's native integrated development environment. Follow the steps below to find IDLE on your system:

1. Press Command + N to open Finder.

2. Select the Applications directory from the menu on the left side of the screen.

3. Open the Python directory.

Location of the Python directory in macOS's Applications directory.

4. Double-click the IDLE icon to start the IDE.

Location of the IDLE IDE in the Python directory.

IDLE shows the installed Python version in the header.

The IDLE shell showing the installed Python version.

Install Visual Studio Code (VS Code) on macOS

If IDLE is not flexible enough, you can use another Python IDE or code editor. This tutorial shows you how to install VS Code, an extensible and lightweight code editor that fully supports programming in Python.

Follow the steps below to install VS Code on your macOS system:

1. Visit the official Visual Studio Code website.

2. Select the Download Mac Universal button and wait for the download to finish.

The official Visual Studio Code website.

3. Use Finder to locate the downloaded application and drag it to your Applications directory.

Dragging the VS Code app into the Applications directory.

4. Start VS Code from the Applications directory.

Running the VS Code app from the Applications directory.

5. In VS Code, select the Extensions icon in the menu on the left side of the screen.

6. Use the search box to find and install the Python extension.

Installing the Python extension in VS Code.

The extension lets you turn VS Code into a full-fledged Python code editor with auto-complete, IntelliSense, debugging, and linting options.


This tutorial listed the simple steps to install Python on macOS. It also showed you how to install Visual Studio Code if you need more than Python's default IDE.

If you are a Python beginner, read How to Make a Calculator with Python and learn the basics by following a practical example.

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Marko Aleksic
Marko Aleksić is a Technical Writer at phoenixNAP. His innate curiosity regarding all things IT, combined with over a decade long background in writing, teaching and working in IT-related fields, led him to technical writing, where he has an opportunity to employ his skills and make technology less daunting to everyone.
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