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

Checking which version of Python is installed on your system is a crucial step for developers. Python continues to evolve, with new features and enhancements being added regularly. Knowing your Python version ensures compatibility and helps in troubleshooting issues. This guide provides a step-by-step approach to check your Python version on different operating systems and dives into why it’s important. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced developer, this guide has something for everyone.

Why Knowing Your Python Version is Important

Understanding the version of Python you’re working with is fundamental for several reasons:

  • Compatibility: Different versions of Python and its libraries may not be compatible with each other. Knowing your version can prevent compatibility issues.
  • Features: Newer versions introduce new features and improvements. To leverage these, you need to know your current version.
  • Security: Staying up to date with the latest version ensures you have the most recent security patches.
  • Support: Knowing your version is crucial when seeking help or reporting issues, as solutions can vary between versions.

Checking Your Python Version

Checking the Python version installed on your device can be done through the command line or terminal. The steps vary slightly depending on your operating system.

On Windows

  1. Press Windows + R, type cmd, and press Enter to open the Command Prompt.
  2. Type python --version or python -V and press Enter.
  3. If Python is installed and properly set up in your system’s PATH, the version will be displayed.

On macOS

  1. Open the Terminal either by searching for it in Spotlight or by finding it in Applications > Utilities.
  2. Type python --version or python -V and press Enter.
  3. The installed Python version should be displayed.

On Linux

  1. Open the Terminal (you can find it in your applications menu or by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T).
  2. Type python --version or python3 --version (since many Linux distributions come with Python 2.x installed by default) and press Enter.
  3. The terminal will display the installed Python version.

Dealing With Multiple Python Versions

Many systems have multiple versions of Python installed. This is especially true for Linux and macOS, which often come with Python 2.x pre-installed. Running python --version might show the version of Python 2. To check Python 3, replace python with python3 in the commands above.

Using Python Version Management Tools

Python version management tools like Pyenv for Linux and macOS or Anaconda for all platforms can help manage multiple Python versions. They allow you to switch between versions easily and isolate project environments.

  • Pyenv: A popular tool for changing the global Python version, installing multiple versions of Python, and setting directory-specific Python versions.
  • Anaconda: A comprehensive platform that includes Python and R distributions. It simplifies package management and deployment of different Python versions.

Updating Python

If you find that your version of Python is outdated, consider updating to the latest version. You can download the latest version of Python from the official Python website. Always ensure to check compatibility with your projects before updating.

Useful Links


Knowing how to check your Python version is a basic but essential skill for any developer, ensuring your projects run smoothly and securely. For different user cases:

Beginners: Stick to the latest version of Python for learning and personal projects to benefit from the newest features and fixes.
Professional Developers: Use version management tools like Pyenv or Anaconda to handle multiple projects that may require different Python versions.
Data Scientists: Anaconda is highly recommended for managing libraries and versions specific to data science and machine learning.

Remember, staying updated with the Python version can save you from many headaches down the road.


How do I know if Python is installed on my system?

If running python --version or python3 --version in your command line or terminal returns a version number, Python is installed on your system.

What is the difference between Python 2 and Python 3?

Python 3 is the latest version and is actively maintained and updated. Python 2 is legacy code and was officially discontinued in 2020. Python 3 includes improved syntax and features not available in Python 2.

Can I have both Python 2 and Python 3 installed on the same system?

Yes, it’s common to have both versions installed, especially on Linux and macOS systems. Use python for Python 2 and python3 for Python 3 commands to distinguish between them.

How can I change the default Python version on my system?

Using a version management tool like Pyenv allows you to set a default Python version for your system or specific directories.

Is updating Python necessary?

While not always necessary, updating Python ensures access to the latest features, performance improvements, and security patches.

We hope this guide helps you navigate checking and managing your Python versions with ease. Whether you’re troubleshooting an issue, starting a new project, or updating existing work, understanding how to manage Python versions is key. Have experiences or questions to share? Feel free to correct, comment, or ask below. Your insights make the community stronger!