How to Run a Python Script on Mac

Python is a powerful tool that you can use to write and execute scripts to perform various tasks. Your Mac comes with Python, but you’ll want to upgrade to the latest version of Python to use its full capabilities. 

Python is convenient to learn and use. One of the first things you will need to know is how to run a Python script on your Mac. Using Mac Terminal, you can use the python3 command followed by the name of your script, as shown below.

python3 <script_file_name>

If you are uncomfortable with Mac Terminal, you can use IDLE to run Python scripts.

My name is Eric, and as a software engineer, I write and use command-line scripts regularly. Python is a quick and easy language to work with; therefore, I use it quite frequently. Running scripts on a Mac is fairly straightforward, and I can show you how.

If you want to see two methods of running Pythons scripts on Mac, keep reading below.

2 Ways to Run a Python Script on Mac

There are a couple of methods you can use to run Python scripts on your Mac. Using Mac Terminal is the first one I will cover, and IDLE (Integrated Development and Learning Environment) is the second. I prefer to use Mac Terminal, but you can look at each method and determine which is right for you.

For each method described below, I will use a simple test Python script called HelloWorld.py which simply prints a message saying Hello World. The simplicity of the script does not matter since the goal here is just to learn how to run a script.

Whichever method you use, you will want to ensure that your Python version is up to date. Also, if you wish to use IDLE, you will want to use the Python installer to install the latest version of IDLE along with Python. Take a look here to see how to install the latest.

Mac Terminal

Using Mac Terminal to run Python scripts is quick and straightforward, and as I mentioned above, my preferred method for running them. You merely start Mac Terminal, navigate to the directory that contains the script, and then run it using the python3 command. See the detailed steps below.

Step 1: Start Mac Terminal.

Use your preferred method to start up Mac Terminal.

Step 2: Navigate to the location of your Python script.

You can use the method you prefer to navigate to the folder containing your script. My example script is located in a directory called scripts under my home directory, so I will use the cd command to navigate there.

cd ~/scripts

Step 3: Run the Python script with the python3 command

Now all I need to do is run the script as a parameter of the python3 command. See the example below.

python3 HelloWorld.py

The script will run, and as shown in our example, you will see a message printed on the terminal screen saying Hello World!

IDLE

To use IDLE, you should have installed it with the Python installer mentioned above. Once you install it, you can open and run Python scripts from Finder on your desktop using the context menu.

Step 1: Use Finder to locate your Python script.

You can navigate the folders in Finder or just use the search field to find it.

Step 2: Right-click on the file name.

Right-click on the file name to bring up the context menu.

Step 3: Select Open With and then IDLE.app.

Click on the Open With item to show the list of applications and then select IDLE.app.

Step 4: Run the script.

IDLE will show the contents of the script in a window. To run it, you can go to the menu at the top of the screen. Click on the Run menu and then select Run Module.

You can also use the F5 key to run the module if you would like to do so. Once you run the module (your script), the output will show in the IDLE shell window.

FAQs

Python is a commonly used scripting language, so many questions are often surrounding its use and how to run the scripts on a Mac. Below are a few of the common ones that we often hear.

Do Python scripts need to have a .py extension?

No, technically, they do not need to have a .py extension. You could put the script in a file with any extension name or even no extension at all, and when you pass it to the python3 command, it will still run it. Using the .py extension is recommended to identify the files as Python script files when looking for them or at the contents of a directory.

Do Python scripts work only on Mac?

No, Python was developed to run on all different platforms, such as macOS, Windows, and Linux. Each operating system or platform has its own version of Python that needs to be installed, but overall, Python is a portable scripting language that you can use on almost any OS.

Are there other tools I can use to create and run Python scripts on a Mac?

Yes, there definitely are. There are many tools for Mac that you can use to develop and run Python scripts. Take a look in the App Store or just do a google search on Python tools for Mac, and you will see a variety of tools and editors you can use to work with Python.

Conclusion

Running a Python script on your Mac is relatively straightforward, and we have shown you above how to do it using Mac Terminal and the python3 command or IDLE. There are other tools you can download to edit and run, but I hope the information above has helped you get started.

As usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you!

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