Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· rafshar

Setup Python on Mac OS 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

The first and most important step of setting up a python development environment is setting up a virtual environment for everything you do and your install tools.

Setup install and virtual environment tools

pip and distribute are python installer tools.

virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper are virtual environment tools.

  1. Install pip and distribute.

    sudo easy_install pip
    curl -O
    sudo python ./
    rm ./
  2. Install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper.

    sudo pip install virtualenv
    sudo pip install virtualenvwrapper
  3. Add source /usr/local/bin/ to ~/.bash_profile

    echo source /usr/local/bin/ >> ~/.bash_profile
    source .bash_profile

By default, your virtual environments will be stored in ~/.virtualenvs/. Customize by setting a WORKON_HOME environment variable.

Starting a new python project

Anything you work on or install should be done through a virtual environment created for your project. Virtual environments an be created and deleted at will without effecting another project.

From now on, you should only pip install when you have a virtualenv active.

Basic Commands

Full documentation is available on

mkvirtualenv my_project    # create new project
workon my_project          # switch projects
deactivate my_project      # return to system python
rmvirtualenv my_project    # remove project
cdsitepackages             # cd to python site-packages
lssitepackages             # ls python site-packages