Install Python 2.7, virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper on OS X Mavericks/Yosemite

This post explains how to install a clean version of Python in a Mac OS X Mavericks/Yosemite.

You’ll also learn to install and use the virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper tools to create virtual environments for your projects.

Install Xcode and Homebrew

First of all, install Xcode if you don’t have it already. You can find it in the Apple Store.

Next, we need to install the Command Line Tools of Xcode. Open a Terminal and type:

this should trigger a pop-up window that will ask you to install the Command Line Tools. If you have some trouble installing these tools, you might find useful this post on Stackoverflow.

Next, we need to install Homebrew. In the Terminal, type this command line:

Note: The previous line updates often, so you may want to check the official site for the updated command line –> Homebrew.

Now, we need to insert the Homebrew directory at the top of the PATH environment variable. In this way, some Homebrew installations, like Python, will take precedence over stock OS X binaries. Open or create the file ~/.bash_profile and write:

Note: Usually, in Linux, Unix and Mac systems, the file .bash_profile is executed to configure your shell when you log in via console. When you are already logged in your machine and open a new terminal window, the file .bashrc is executed instead. However, Mac OS X is an exception, as its always runs a login shell by default in each new window, and calls the file .bash_profile. If you want to maintain two separate config files for login and non-login shells, you can set the common settings in .bashrc and import them in .bash_procfile with:

This script looks for the .bashrc file, and calls it if exists. Close your Terminal and open it again to make these changes effective.

Install Python 2.7

First of all, let’s see the path of the Python that comes installed with Mavericks/Yosemite by typing:

which should show /usr/bin/python 

Now, we are ready to install Python 2.7 by typing:

The good thing about installing Python with Homebrew is that you also install pip and Distribute, which extend the packaging and installation facilities provided by the distutils in the standard library.

And now, the python path should be:

Finally, we need to add the new Python scripts directory to your PATH. Open again the .bash_profile file and add

Close and open your Terminal to apply these changes.

Install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper

A good practice when working in a Python project is to use a virtual environment. This allows you to have all the packages needed in one place. It is more easy to share and maintain.

To install virtualenv type in your terminal:

Now, you can create a virtual environment with

which will create the folder myenvironment. To activate this environment type:

and to deactivate it, just type:

Wrapped Python

Moreover, I recommend you also install virtualenvwrapper, which is a set of extensions that allows you to activate and change environments more easily. To install it:

Next, create a folder that will contain all your virtual environments:

Open your .bashrc file and add:

you can activate these changes by typing


if your .bash_profile calls the .bashrc, as explained earlier.

Now, you can create a virtual environment by typing:

which will create the folder ~/.virtualenvs/myenvironment, and it will be initially active.

You can change from one virtual environment to another by just typing:

Deactivate an environment with

Delete an environment with

And list the existing environments with

You can find more useful commands here.

Wooha! Now you’re ready to start working on your Python projects! 😉

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