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Macintosh Installation

Python is part of the MacOS environment. Tiger (MacOS 10.4) includes Python 2.3.5 and IDLE. Leopard (MacOS 10.5) includes Python 2.5.1. Generally, you don't need to do much to get started. You'll just need to locate the various Python files. Look in /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.Framework/Versions for the relevant files.

In order to upgrade software in the Macintosh OS, you must know the administrator, or “owner” password. If you are the person who installed or initially setup the computer, you had to pick an owner password during the installation. If someone else did the installation, you'll need to get the password from them.

The Mac OS installation of Python has three broad steps.

  1. Pre-installation: make backups and download the installation kit.
  2. Installation: install Python.
  3. Post-installation: check to be sure everything worked.

We'll go through each of these in detail.

Macintosh Pre-Installation

Before installing software, back up your computer. While you can't easily burn a DVD of everything on your computer, you can usually burn a DVD of everything in your Mac OS X Home directory.

I've never had a single problem installing Python. I've worked with a number of people, however, who either have bad luck or don't read carefully and have managed to corrupt their Mac OS installation by downloading and installing software. While Python is safe, stable, reliable, virus-free, and well-respected, you may be someone with bad luck who has a problem. A backup is cheap insurance.

You should also have a folder for saving your downloads. You can create a folder in hour Documents called downloads. I suggest that you keep all of your various downloaded tools and utilities in this folder for two reasons. If you need to reinstall your software, you know exactly what you downloaded. When you get a new computer (or an additional computer), you know what needs to be installed on that computer.

Download. After making a backup, go to the web site and look for the Download area. In here, you're looking for the pre-built Mac OS X installer. This book will emphasize Python 2.5. In that case, the kit is python-2.5. x -macosx date .dmg. When you click on the filename, your browser should start downloading the file. Save it in your downloads folder.

Backup. Now is a good time to make a second backup. Seriously. It is still cheap insurance.

At this point, you have everything you need to install Python:

  • A backup
  • The Python installer

Macintosh Installation

When you double-click the python-2.5. x -macosx date .dmg file, it will create a disk image named Universal MacPython 2.5. x . This disk image has your license, a ReadMe file, and the MacPython.mpkg.

When you double-click the MacPython.mpkg fie, it will take all the necessary steps to install Python on your computer. The installer will take you through seven steps. Generally, you'll read the messages and

Introduction. Read the message and click Continue.

Read Me. This is the contents of the ReadMe file on the installer disk image. Read the message and click Continue.

License. You can read the history of Python, and the terms and conditions for using it. To install Python, you must agree with the license. When you click Continue, you will get a pop-up window that asks if you agree. Click Agree to install Python.

Select Destination. Generally, your primary disk drive, usually named Macintosh HD will be highlighted with a green arrow. Click Continue.

Installation Type. If you've done this before, you'll see that this will be an upgrade. If this is the first time, you'll be doing an install. Click the Install or Upgrade button.

You'll be asked for your password. If, for some reason, you aren't the administrator for this computer, you won't be able to install software. Otherwise, provide your password so that you can install software.

Finish Up. The message is usually "The software was successfully installed". Click Close to finish.

Macintosh Post-Installation

In your Applications folder, you'll find a MacPython 2.5 folder, which contains a number of applications.

  • BuildApplet

  • Extras

  • IDLE

  • PythonLauncher

  • Update Shell Profile.command

Look in /System/Library/Frameworks/Python.Framework/Versions for the relevant files. In the bin, Extras and Resources directories you'll find the various applications. The bin/idle file will launch IDLE for us.

Once you've finished installation, you should check to be sure that everything is working correctly.


Now you can go to your Applications folder, and double click the IDLE application. This will open two windows, the Python Shell window is what we need, but it is buried under a Console window.

Here's what you'll see in the Python Shell window.

Python 2.5.1 (r251:54863, Oct  5 2007, 21:08:09) 
[GCC 4.0.1 (Apple Inc. build 5465)] on darwin
Type "copyright", "credits" or "license()" for more information.

    Personal firewall software may warn about the connection IDLE
    makes to its subprocess using this computer's internal loopback
    interface.  This connection is not visible on any external
    interface and no data is sent to or received from the Internet.
IDLE 1.2.1      

The menu bar will have a menu named Python with the menu item Quit Python. Use this to finish using IDLE for now, and skip to the next chapter.

You may notice a Help menu. This has the Python Docs menu item, which you can access through the menu or by hitting F1 . This will launch Safari to show you the Python documents available on the Internet.

  Published under the terms of the Open Publication License Design by Interspire