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Python on a Macintosh running Mac OS X is in principle very similar to Python onany other Unix platform, but there are a number of additional features such asthe IDE and the Package Manager that are worth pointing out.
4.1. Getting and Installing MacPython¶
Mac OS X 10.8 comes with Python 2.7 pre-installed by Apple. If you wish, you are invited to install the most recent version of Python 3 from the Python website ( ). A current “universal binary” build of Python, which runs natively on the Mac’s new Intel and legacy PPC CPU’s, is available there. Let’s say you’ve just installed Python 3.8. Your script, myfile.py, uses a brand new feature: reversed when iterating over a dictionary. For other people to run this script, they must also run Python 3.8. So you should put a check at the start to let other users know this. We do this by adding an assert statement at the top of myfile.py.
Mac OS X 10.8 comes with Python 2.7 pre-installed by Apple. If you wish, youare invited to install the most recent version of Python 3 from the Pythonwebsite (https://www.python.org). A current “universal binary” build of Python,which runs natively on the Mac’s new Intel and legacy PPC CPU’s, is availablethere.
What you get after installing is a number of things:
Python3.9folder in your
Applicationsfolder. In hereyou find IDLE, the development environment that is a standard part of officialPython distributions; and PythonLauncher, which handles double-clicking Pythonscripts from the Finder.
/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework, which includes thePython executable and libraries. The installer adds this location to your shellpath. To uninstall MacPython, you can simply remove these three things. Asymlink to the Python executable is placed in /usr/local/bin/.
The Apple-provided build of Python is installed in
/usr/bin/python,respectively. You should never modify or delete these, as they areApple-controlled and are used by Apple- or third-party software. Remember thatif you choose to install a newer Python version from python.org, you will havetwo different but functional Python installations on your computer, so it willbe important that your paths and usages are consistent with what you want to do.
IDLE includes a help menu that allows you to access Python documentation. If youare completely new to Python you should start reading the tutorial introductionin that document.
If you are familiar with Python on other Unix platforms you should read thesection on running Python scripts from the Unix shell.
4.1.1. How to run a Python script¶
Your best way to get started with Python on Mac OS X is through the IDLEintegrated development environment, see section The IDE and use the Help menuwhen the IDE is running.
If you want to run Python scripts from the Terminal window command line or fromthe Finder you first need an editor to create your script. Mac OS X comes with anumber of standard Unix command line editors, vim andemacs among them. If you want a more Mac-like editor,BBEdit or TextWrangler from Bare Bones Software (seehttp://www.barebones.com/products/bbedit/index.html) are good choices, as isTextMate (see https://macromates.com/). Other editors includeGvim (http://macvim-dev.github.io/macvim/) and Aquamacs(http://aquamacs.org/).
To run your script from the Terminal window you must make sure that
/usr/local/bin is in your shell search path.
To run your script from the Finder you have two options:
Drag it to PythonLauncher
Select PythonLauncher as the default application to open yourscript (or any .py script) through the finder Info window and double-click it.PythonLauncher has various preferences to control how your script islaunched. Option-dragging allows you to change these for one invocation, or useits Preferences menu to change things globally.
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4.1.2. Running scripts with a GUI¶
With older versions of Python, there is one Mac OS X quirk that you need to beaware of: programs that talk to the Aqua window manager (in other words,anything that has a GUI) need to be run in a special way. Use pythonwinstead of python to start such scripts.
With Python 3.9, you can use either python or pythonw.
Python on OS X honors all standard Unix environment variables such as
PYTHONPATH, but setting these variables for programs started from theFinder is non-standard as the Finder does not read your
.cshrc at startup. You need to create a file
~/.MacOSX/environment.plist. See Apple’s Technical Document QA1067 fordetails.
For more information on installation Python packages in MacPython, see sectionInstalling Additional Python Packages.
4.2. The IDE¶
MacPython ships with the standard IDLE development environment. A goodintroduction to using IDLE can be found athttp://www.hashcollision.org/hkn/python/idle_intro/index.html.
4.3. Installing Additional Python Packages¶
There are several methods to install additional Python packages:
Packages can be installed via the standard Python distutils mode (
Many packages can also be installed via the setuptools extensionor pip wrapper, see https://pip.pypa.io/.
4.4. GUI Programming on the Mac¶
There are several options for building GUI applications on the Mac with Python.
PyObjC is a Python binding to Apple’s Objective-C/Cocoa framework, which isthe foundation of most modern Mac development. Information on PyObjC isavailable from https://pypi.org/project/pyobjc/.
The standard Python GUI toolkit is
tkinter, based on the cross-platformTk toolkit (https://www.tcl.tk). An Aqua-native version of Tk is bundled with OSX by Apple, and the latest version can be downloaded and installed fromhttps://www.activestate.com; it can also be built from source.
wxPython is another popular cross-platform GUI toolkit that runs natively onMac OS X. Packages and documentation are available from https://www.wxpython.org.
PyQt is another popular cross-platform GUI toolkit that runs natively on MacOS X. More information can be found athttps://riverbankcomputing.com/software/pyqt/intro.
4.5. Distributing Python Applications on the Mac¶
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The standard tool for deploying standalone Python applications on the Mac ispy2app. More information on installing and using py2app can be foundat http://undefined.org/python/#py2app.
4.6. Other Resources¶
The MacPython mailing list is an excellent support resource for Python users anddevelopers on the Mac:
Another useful resource is the MacPython wiki:
Welcome! This is the documentation for Python 3.9.2.
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Parts of the documentation:
Download Python 3.8 2 For Mac
What's new in Python 3.9?
Python Setup and Usage
Installing Python Modules
Distributing Python Modules
Extending and Embedding
Python 3.8 Download Mac High Sierra
Indices and tables:
Global Module Index
Complete Table of Contents
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