Beginner’s Guide to Python


New to programming? Python is free and easy to learn if you know where to start! This guide will help you to get started quickly.

Chinese Translation

New to Python?

Read BeginnersGuide/Overview for a short explanation of what Python is.

Getting Python

Next, install the Python interpreter on your computer. This is the program that reads Python programs and carries out their instructions; you need it before you can do any Python programming. Mac OSX distributions from 10.3 (Panther) and up, include a version of Python, which, although it can be as much as two years out of date, may be suitable for beginning. Linux distributions also frequently include Python and it is readily upgraded.

There are also Python interpreter and IDE bundles available, such as Pycharm (See Pycharm download). For beginners, there is also Thonny, a Python IDE with Python 3.5 built in and with several features that help to learn programming.

There are currently two major versions of Python available: Python 2 and Python 3. The Python2orPython3 page provides advice on how to decide which one will best suit your needs.

See BeginnersGuide/Download for instructions to download the correct version of Python.

At some stage, you’ll want to edit and save your program code. Take a look at HowToEditPythonCode for some advice and recommendations.

Learning Python

Next, read a tutorial and try some simple experiments with your new Python interpreter.

Most tutorials assume that you know how to run a program on your computer. If you are using Windows and need help with this, see How do I Run a Program Under Windows. There are also sites that offer in-browser coding for those who want to learn Python: check out Codecademy for general Python or DataCamp for Python for data science.

Once you have read a tutorial, you can browse through Python’s online documentation. It includes a tutorial that might come in handy, a Library Reference that lists all of the modules that come standard with Python, and the Language Reference for a complete (if rather dry) explanation of Python’s syntax.

When you are ready to write your first program, you will need a text editor. To get started you can use any editor you are familiar with – even something like Notepad – but as you gain experience you may want to use a text editor with features that help you write Python programs. See PythonEditors for a list of programs friendly to Python code editing.

Need Help?

Need help with any of this? Read BeginnersGuide/Help for mailing lists and newsgroups.

Most Python books will include an introduction to the language; see IntroductoryBooks for suggested titles.

Consult BeginnersGuide/Examples for small programs and little snippets of code that can help you learn.

Or, if you prefer to learn Python through listening to a lecture, you can attend a training course or even hire a trainer to come to your company. Consult the PythonEvents page to see if any training courses are scheduled in your area, and the PythonTraining page for a list of trainers.

Teachers can join the EDU-SIG, a mailing list for discussion of Python’s use in teaching at any level ranging from K-12 up to university.

Complete list of Beginner’s Guide pages

Quiz and Exercises

Looking for a particular Python module or application?

  • The first place to look is the Python Package Index.

  • If you can’t find anything relevant in the Package Index,

    try searching python.org – you can find anything mentioned on the Python site, in the FAQs, or in the newsgroup. More info: where to search.

  • You may also try our external guest project, pydoc.net, for advanced package and module search.

  • Next, try Google or other search engine of your choice. Searching for “python” and some relevant keywords will usually find something helpful.

  • Finally, you can try posting a query to the comp.lang.python Usenet group.

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