Checking Your Python Version in Terminal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Checking the Python version installed on your computer is a fundamental step for developers. Whether you’re running scripts, installing packages, or starting a new project, knowing your Python version ensures compatibility and helps you manage environments efficiently. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of checking your Python version in Terminal (or Command Prompt on Windows), along with some additional insights to make your development journey smoother.

Why Check Your Python Version?

Understanding the version of Python you are working with is crucial for several reasons:
– **Compatibility**: Certain Python scripts and projects are only compatible with specific Python versions.
– **Debugging**: Solving issues may require knowing the Python version to ensure the problem isn’t due to a version mismatch.
– **Environment Management**: When working on multiple projects, knowing how to manage and switch between Python versions is vital.

Checking Python Version on Windows

For Windows users, the Command Prompt is your gateway to engaging with Python through the terminal.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt

Press Win + R, type cmd, and hit Enter.

Step 2: Check Python Version

Enter the following command and press Enter:

python --version

If Python is installed and correctly set up in your system’s PATH, this command will return the version of Python installed. If you receive an error, Python may not be installed or properly configured in your system’s PATH.

Checking Python Version on macOS and Linux

On macOS and Linux, the Terminal application is used to interact with the system through command-line interfaces, which includes checking the Python version.

Step 1: Open Terminal

On macOS, you can find Terminal in Applications > Utilities. Linux users can usually open it by right-clicking the desktop and selecting Open Terminal or through the applications menu.

Step 2: Check Python Version

Type the following command and press Enter:

python --version


python3 --version

The command you use may depend on whether you have Python 2 or Python 3 installed, as well as how your system is configured. Using python3 is a way to ensure you are checking the version of Python 3.

Additional Tips and Tools

– **Using pyenv for Version Management**: pyenv is a popular tool that enables you to install and switch between multiple versions of Python with ease. It’s particularly useful if you need to maintain legacy Python applications alongside projects that use newer versions.

– **Virtual Environments**: Using virtual environments allows you to create isolated Python environments for different projects. This can help avoid conflicts between project dependencies and makes it easier to manage project-specific Python versions.

– **Updating Python**: If you find that your Python version is outdated, consider visiting the official Python website to download and install the latest version.

Useful Links for Further Reading

Official Python Website: Offers download links for the latest Python versions and documentation.
Python Documentation: A comprehensive resource for understanding Python, including how to install and manage different versions.
pyenv on GitHub: Learn more about pyenv and how to use it for Python version management.
Virtualenv on PyPI: Understand how to use virtual environments for Python development.


Whether you are a beginner eager to dive into the world of Python or a seasoned developer managing multiple projects, knowing how to check your Python version in Terminal is an essential skill. For Windows users, the Command Prompt provides a straightforward way to verify Python installations, while macOS and Linux users will find Terminal to be a versatile tool for managing their development environments. With the addition of tools like pyenv and the use of virtual environments, you can easily navigate through different Python versions and maintain project integrity.

For beginners, starting with the latest Python version and gradually exploring the need for multiple versions can be a good strategy. Intermediate users managing several projects might benefit most from mastering pyenv and virtual environments. Advanced users, on the other hand, will find knowing how to check and switch between Python versions in Terminal indispensable for efficient development workflows across diverse environments.


Q: How do I install Python?
A: Visit the official Python website, download the installer for your operating system, and follow the installation instructions.
Q: How can I switch between Python versions?
A: Tools like pyenv can help you manage and switch between multiple Python versions.
Q: What’s the difference between Python 2 and Python 3?
A: Python 2 and Python 3 are significantly different, with Python 3 being the future of the language. It’s recommended to use Python 3 for new projects.
Q: Can I have both Python 2 and Python 3 installed simultaneously?
A: Yes, you can, but it’s essential to manage them properly, using tools like pyenv or by specifying python or python3 when running scripts.
Q: How do I update Python to the latest version?
A: Download the latest version from the official Python website and follow the installation instructions. Alternatively, if you’re using a version manager like pyenv, you can update it with a specific command.

We hope this guide has equipped you with the knowledge to check and manage your Python versions effectively. Your journey with Python is bound to be exciting and rewarding with the right tools and techniques at your disposal. Feel free to contribute to this guide by sharing your questions, corrections, or experiences in the comments. Your input can help make the path smoother for fellow developers navigating the versatile world of Python development.