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This tutorial will show you how to set up your Windows system for python development using python 2, python 3, git, a bash terminal, virtual environments and virtual environment wrapper (virtualenvwrapper), a versatile tool that greatly facilitates the process of dealing with virtual environments.

The tutorial is demonstrated with Windows 7; with a little bit of google help the reader can apply the concepts to different versions of Windows.

I assume that the reader would want to install both python 2 and python 3 on the same system, which is quite typical for python developers. Some readers may even need to install more than one version of the same python (e.g., python 3.5 and python 3.6) but that's beyond the scope of this tutorial (relatively easy to do, though). If you only wanted to install just one major release of python, the tutorial would work too (just tailor your reading accordingly).

Conventions throughout this tutorial

Please review the conventions page, which will help you understand how I communicate with you through this blog.

Installing git

Let's install git for windows. As of this writing, the latest version is 2.13.1.

Below are the screenshots of the options that I chose during the installation process:

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - select components

From the above, it's critical to select the Git Bash Here option. It will give you the ability to run *nix like bash commands on windows (like ls, grep, etc.).

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - adjusting your path environment

Ignore the red font and the warning (unless you are an advanced user of the windows command prompt; most people aren't).

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - choosing the ssh executable

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - choosing https transport backend

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - configuring the line ending conventions

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - configuring the terminal emulator to use with git bash

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - configuring extra options

Learning to use git or configuring it is beyond the scope of this tutorial. There is plenty of info out there, including Getting Started - Git Basics, Getting Started - First-Time Git Setup and Customizing Git - Git Configuration.

You now should be in a position to open a bash terminal by right-clicking on any Windows Explorer folder, and selecting the option shown below.

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - git - git bash here

TIP! | When on Windows, I usually start working on my projects by right-clicking on the python project folder, and selecting the Git Bash Here option.

Installing python 2

Below are the options that I chose when I installed it on my system.

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - python 2 - select scope of installation

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - python 2 - customize python

Make sure to select the Add python.exe to Path so you can run python directly from the bash terminal (or the windows command prompt) without having to provide the whole path to the python executable file. This will allow you to run...


as opposed to...


Notice that for the above example I used bash notation, which includes forward-slash for directory separators.

Let's test that python works OK by opening a bash terminal anywhere and by running which python and python --version. On my system I get the following:

jose.pumar@host ~
$ which python

jose.pumar@host ~
$ python --version
Python 2.7.13

Installing virtual environment and virtual environment wrapper

While on the bash terminal, let's install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper. Below is what it looked like for me:


$ pip install virtualenv
Collecting virtualenv
  Using cached virtualenv-15.1.0-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Installing collected packages: virtualenv
Successfully installed virtualenv-15.1.0


$ pip install virtualenvwrapper
Collecting virtualenvwrapper
  Using cached virtualenvwrapper-4.7.2.tar.gz
Requirement already satisfied: virtualenv in c:\python27\lib\site-packages (from
Collecting virtualenv-clone (from virtualenvwrapper)
  Using cached virtualenv-clone-0.2.6.tar.gz
Collecting stevedore (from virtualenvwrapper)
  Using cached stevedore-1.23.0-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Collecting six>=1.9.0 (from stevedore->virtualenvwrapper)
  Using cached six-1.10.0-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Collecting pbr!=2.1.0,>=2.0.0 (from stevedore->virtualenvwrapper)
  Using cached pbr-3.0.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl
Installing collected packages: virtualenv-clone, six, pbr, stevedore, virtualenv
  Running install for virtualenv-clone ... done
  Running install for virtualenvwrapper ... done
Successfully installed pbr-3.0.1 six-1.10.0 stevedore-1.23.0 virtualenv-clone-0.
2.6 virtualenvwrapper-4.7.2

Once virtualenvwrapper is installed, let's add the script to our .bashrc file by running:

echo "source" >> ~/.bashrc

Let's source our .bashrc by running:

source ~/.bashrc

Below is the output that I got:

virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\premkproject
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\postmkproject
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\initialize
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\premkvirtualenv
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\postmkvirtualenv
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\prermvirtualenv
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\postrmvirtualenv
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\predeactivate
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\postdeactivate
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\preactivate
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\postactivate
virtualenvwrapper.user_scripts creating C:\Users\jose.pumar\.virtualenvs\get_env_details

By sourcing our .bashrc file we are making a set of scripts available on our bash terminal prompt, scripts that allow us to create, list, and delete virtual environments. More info on virtualenvwrapper can be found here.

We are ready to test if virtualenvwrapper works by running mkvirtualenv test, which creates a virtual environment called test, and which is stored under C:\Users\[your_user_name]\.virtualenvs\. All your virtual environments will be stored there. Once the script is finished running, my terminal outputs the following:

jose.pumar@host MINGW64 ~

Notice the name of the virtual environment that we just created (i.e., (test)), which signifies that our virtual environment is active.

Let's go ahead and deactivate and delete the virtual environment by running deactivate test and rmvirtualenv test. Another useful command is lsvirtualenv, which lists all virtual environments in your system.

Installing python 3

Let's go ahead and install python 3. Below are the options that I chose when I did it:

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - python 3 - install python Note that on my setup I had already chosen to add python 2 to my Path in windows. Because of that, adding Python 3 to the PATH, as shown above, doesn't make much sense - you should only have either python 2 or python 3 but not both for one of them will not work anyways. Don't worry about the PATH issue. That's where having virtualenvwrapper is handy, for when we create a virtual environment we can specify which python version to use, and our virtual environment will remember that for us.

TIP! | If you are installing only one python (i.e., python 2 or python 3), do make sure to select the Add Python X.Y to PATH option.

 tumbling programmer - setting windows for python development - python 3 - advanced installation options

Note also the path I chose to install python 3 under. The default that the installer picks is buried deep in a typical windows user app folder. I purposely chose an easier path, similar to the one that the python 2 installer picked.

Specifying which python to use on our virtual environments with virtualenvwrapper

When we create virtual environments, we can tell virtualenvwrapper to use a particular python, like so:

mkvirtualenv --python='[path_to_your_python]' [name_of_environment]


mkvirtualenv --python='C:\Python36\python.exe' python36env

Below is what I get after the script is finished, and I test for version and which python is being used.

jose.pumar@host MINGW64 /c
$ python --version
Python 3.6.1
jose.pumar@host MINGW64 /c
$ which python

Go ahead and deactivate and delete the python36env we just created.

Similarly, I can run mkvirtualenv --python='C:\Python27\python.exe' python27env to create a python 2 virtual environment. Below is the output that I get when I test for version and which python is being used.

jose.pumar@host MINGW64 ~
$ python --version
Python 2.7.13
jose.pumar@host MINGW64 ~
$ which python

This concludes our tutorial. Your Windows system should be an inch closer to being the platform on which great python apps are developed.


This tutorial is a blend of curated information from the below sources. Many thanks to them.

  1. Obey the Testing Goat - Pre-requisites and Assumptions
  2. Timmy Reilly's Blog - Python, Pip, virtualenv installation on Windows
  3. Timmy Reilly's Blog - Setup a virtualenv for Python 3 on Windows