Installing and Using Anaconda Python

Anaconda Python is a collection of a number of very useful Python development packages as well as an interpreter. We will use the Idle editor to build and run Python programs. Idle is included as part of the Anaconda Python installation.

For personal use on a laptop or desktop computer:

You can download Anaconda Python here and follow the instructions (click the windows, mac, or linux icon as appropriate). Note for Windows users: you have the option to download a 32 or 64 bit version—most modern laptops or desktops can safely use the 64-bit version. Mac users only have the 64 bit option.

Using Anaconda Python

After installing Anaconda Python, you will be able to use it as follows:

On a PC

Click Start…All Programs…Anaconda (64-bit)…Anaconda Command Prompt.  A command prompt window will open. Type idle to run the Python interpreter. A new window titled Python Shell will open and you will see the Python >>> command prompt.

On a Mac

Open terminal. If you’ve never done that before, the easiest way to start it is to use Spotlight Search. Type command-Space, enter terminal in the text box, and then select Terminal—Utilities. When the terminal window pops up, type python. The interpreter will start and you will see the Python >>> command prompt.

What about Eclipse, Sublime or other editors/IDEs?

Eclipse is an editor that I’ve used a lot for my Java courses and I also use it happily for my own Java projects. In my opinion, however, Eclipse is a pain for Python programming. Let’s avoid it. Sublime Text, on the other hand, is a great editor and is used extensively by professional programmers. If you would like to use it in your own work and would like to invest the time to learn how to use it, it would be time well spent. Due to licensing restrictions, we cannot install the evaluation version on our computers and the pay version is a bit pricey. For our purposes in this class, Idle will work just fine.