Starting Python

There are two ways of using Python:

  • Start an interactive shell, also called a REPL, short for read-evaluate-print-loop.
  • Start a Python program that you stored in one or more files with the .py extension.

In this guide, we’ll start with the interactive shell because it’s ideal for exploring the language. But at some point, using the REPL won't cut it anymore and you'll have to start creating Python files.

Starting Python on Your Computer

If you installed Python on your local machine, you first need to start a terminal or command prompt in which you can start the Python interactive shell. On all platforms, you should be able to start Python 3 with the command python3 (or sometimes just python). Just be sure you are running Python 3, not 2.

On Linux, you first need to start a terminal. This can often be done with the shortcut ctrl + alt + T. Alternatively, you can search for the terminal in your menus. This differs from distribution to distribution. Once you have a terminal running, simple enter python3 to start the Python REPL:

Python running in a Linux terminal
Python running in a Linux terminal

On Windows, you can start Python from a terminal as well. E.g., to start PowerShell, simply hit the Windows key and start typing "PowerShell". Start it and then enter python3. If you don't have PowerShell, you can use the 'Command Prompt' program instead.

Python started from Windows PowerShell
Python started from Windows PowerShell

Repl.it

If you decided to use the repl.it web-based option, the Python interactive shell is at the right of the screen:
On repl.it, the Python REPL is at the right of your screen
On repl.it, the Python REPL is at the right of your screen


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