If you want to start your programming journey, Python is an excellent language to do it with. Before you can do anything, you need to get it installed and up and running on your PC. Thankfully, Python is free to download (and use), it’s just a bit of a process to get it running. Follow along and we’ll show you how to get it setup so you can start using it in your chosen coding environment.

Installing Python

Python doesn’t come prepackaged with Windows 10, so you have to manually install it. It can also be a little difficult to install; however, if you follow the steps below, we’ll get you up and running in no time!

First, you’ll need to decide which version of Python you’re going to use — Python 2, Python 3, or maybe even both of them. A lot of programs are written in Python 2, as not everyone has moved over to Python 3 just yet. So, you’ll definitely want to learn the ins and outs of Python 3, but you also should have a good grasp on Python 2 if you’re going to be maintaining any systems written in Python 2. Luckily, it’s easy enough to install both side by side.

You’ll want to head over to the Python website — www.python.org — and grab the setup wizard for Python 2. We can install Python 3 right after. On the download page, simply click the button that says “Download Python 2.7.13.”

Once downloaded, open up the .exe. Once it starts, you’ll want to select the radio button that says “Install for all users” and then press the Next button.

Now, we’re taken to the Directory Selection screen. You don’t need to do anything here, as you can leave the directory as Python27. Press the Next button.

Finally, you’re taken to the Customize Python27 screen. Here, you’ll want to scroll down to the bottom of the list and select “Add python.exe to Path.” You’ll also want to select “Will be installed on local hard drive.” Now that you’ve done this, there’s no need to make any other changes. You can go through the rest of the wizard without changing anything. So, just follow the wizard until Python 2 is installed on your machine.

You can verify its installation your PC by opening up Command Prompt (or PowerShell) and type in the command python -v. If what comes up as a result is “Python 2.7.13,” you’ve successfully installed Python 2.

Installing Python 3

Next, let’s go ahead and install Python 3. Head back to the Python website and download the setup wizard for Python 3. Once downloaded, open up the .exe file.

Once you meet the first screen, at the bottom, you’ll want to select “Add Python 3.6 to PATH.” Right after, you can click on the big “Install Now” button.

On the final screen, you’ll be asked whether or not you want to disable the “path length limit.” In summary, this removes the limitation set to the MAX_PATH variable, allowing you to use long path names with Python. You shouldn’t have to worry about this for Linux and other similar operating systems, but it can be helpful to go ahead and check the box for “Disable path length limit” in Windows.

Now, you can go ahead and finish the setup process. Once installed, we can use the python -v command in Command Prompt or PowerShell to verify that it was installed correctly.

Working with Python 2 and Python 3 side by side

Running Python 2 and Python 3 from Command Prompt is easy. You’ll need to go into your Python 3 folder and make a copy of python.exe. Once the copy is made, you’ll want to rename the copy to python3.exe. You can usually find this folder in C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Local\Programs\Python\Python36. It’s saved there by default.

Once that’s done, you can now use the command python -v for Python 2 and the command python3 -v for using Python 3.


And that’s all there is to it! It’s a fairly complicated process, but once you get it setup, you should be golden. If you have any questions or got lost somewhere in the setup process, be sure to leave a comment in the comments section below.