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BirthTouch: Questions and Concerns

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What Is Python Used For On Mac

What Is Python Used For On Mac

What Is Python Used For On Mac

The Apple-provided build of Python is installed in/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework and /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, 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.

With older versions of Python, there is one macOS 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.

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

By default python/pip commands points to the first binary found in PATH environment variable depending what's actually installed. So before installing Python packages with Homebrew, the default Python is installed in /usr/bin which is shipped with your macOS (e.g. Python 2.7.10 on High Sierra). Any versions found in /usr/local (such as /usr/local/bin) are provided by external packages.

It is generally advised, that when working with multiple versions, for Python 2 you may use python2/pip2 command, respectively for Python 3 you can use python3/pip3, but it depends on your configuration which commands are available.

It is also worth to mention, that since release of Homebrew 1.5.0+ (on 19 January 2018), the python formula has been upgraded to Python 3.x and a python@2 formula will be added for installing Python 2.7. Before, python formula was pointing to Python 2.

The version at /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework is installed by Apple and is used by the system. It is version 3.3 in your case. You can access and use this Python interpreter, but you shouldn't try to remove it, and it may not be the one that comes up when you type "Python" in a terminal or click on an icon to launch it.

virtualenv is used to manage Python packages for different projects.Using virtualenv allows you to avoid installing Python packages globallywhich could break system tools or other projects. You can install virtualenvusing pip.

So, I did what any of us would do and googled around looking for a guide to update my development environment, which runs on Mac (the macOS operating system, formerly known as OS X). To my surprise, I found only a handful of StackOverflow posts, and they pointed me to partial solutions. Here's the full story of how to set up your environment without breaking anything built into the macOS operating system.

Moshe Zadka cautions that doing this wrong could result in an unreliable idea of which Python is running that depends too closely on shells loading aliases. I knew Moshe was familiar with Python, but what I didn't know is that he is an author of many Python tutorials as well as an upcoming book on Python development on macOS. He helped 40 colleagues develop Python safely and consistently on macOS systems following one core principle:

Now we know for certain that we're using Python 3.7.3 and pip will update alongside it without any manual aliasing between versions. Using Moshe's recommendation to use a version manager (pyenv) enables us to easily accept future upgrades without getting confused about which Python we are running at a given time.

Many users have dozens of Python interpreters on their computer already, but have no idea how to manage them effectively. Too often, people just download the latest Python release,


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