How to Install and Use Python 3 on macOS

John John (304)
10 minutes

Python 3 was released quite a few years ago, so if you haven't made the switch yet from Python 2, it's probably time to start! This guide will show you how to install and use Python 3 on your Mac.

If you are instead looking to install Python 3 on Windows, then we've got a different guide for that.

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Read our guide to learn how to install Homebrew on your Mac if it's not already installed.

Once Homebrew is installed, you can install Python 3 easily by typing:

brew install python

Once the installation finishes, you can confirm by typing:

[~]$ python3 --version
Python 3.6.5

You may notice python command still uses the system python, Python 2.7:

[~]$ python --version
Python 2.7.10

We'll address this in a later step!

I recommend virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper for working with virtual environments in Python. Check out our guide to learn how to work with virtual environments using virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper.

Using these tools, you can run Python 3 in a virtual environment by running the following:

mkvirtualenv -p /usr/local/bin/python3.6 myenv

This will create the virtual environment and put you in the newly created environment. Run the following to confirm your Python version:

[~]$ python --version
Python 3.6.5

Notice the environment name is in parenthesis above the prompt. This is just to remind you which environment you're in.

If you're not operating in a Python 3 virtual environment, and you want to run scripts using Python 3 there are two easy ways.

Use a shebang

At the top of your script you can include a shebang like so:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

and make sure the script is executable:

chmod +x path/to/

Now when you run:


it will be run using Python 3. More specifically, the program loader sees the shebang line and knows to call the python3 program and pass in path/to/ as the first argument.

Using python3 directly

Another simple way is to just call python3 directly:

python3 path/to/

This will ensure your script is run using Python 3 rather than the system python.

John John (304)
5 minutes

The Python standard library includes a great set of modules, but many projects will require the use of third-party modules.