Running Python Code in Visual Studio: A Guide

Running Python code in Visual Studio represents a valuable skill for developers working in data science, web development, automation, and many other fields. Visual Studio, Microsoft’s flagship development environment, supports a wide array of programming languages, including Python. Its robust feature set for Python development covers intelligent code completion, debugging, profiling, and more. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge needed to set up, write, and run Python code in Visual Studio, enhancing your productivity and proficiency in Python development.

Setting Up Python in Visual Studio

Before you can start writing and running Python code, you need to make sure Visual Studio is properly equipped to handle Python projects. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up Python in Visual Studio:

1. **Install Visual Studio**: If you haven’t already, download and install the latest version of Visual Studio from the official website. The Community Edition is free and sufficiently powerful for most developers.

2. **Install the Python Development Workload**: During the installation or from the Visual Studio Installer, select the Python development workload. This includes all necessary components and tools for Python development.

3. **Install Python**: While Visual Studio supports using existing Python installations, you can also install Python directly through Visual Studio. This ensures compatibility and simplifies the setup process.

4. **Verify the Installation**: Open Visual Studio and create a new project. Select the Python Application template to verify that Python is correctly set up. If the template appears and the project creation succeeds, you are ready to proceed.

Writing Python Code in Visual Studio

Visual Studio offers a feature-rich environment for writing Python code. The integrated development environment (IDE) provides syntax highlighting, code completion, refactoring support, and much more to streamline the development process.

– **Create a New Python Project**: From the file menu, choose New Project, then select the Python Application template. Name your project and click Create.

– **Explore the Solution Explorer**: Familiarize yourself with the Solution Explorer, which organizes your files, dependencies, and environment. Right-click your project to add new items, manage packages, or access project properties.

– **Write Your Code**: The main Python file, often named `` or ``, is where you’ll write your Python code. The familiar coding experience in Visual Studio, augmented by Python-specific features, makes writing code intuitive and efficient.

Running and Debugging Python Code in Visual Studio

Once your Python code is written, Visual Studio provides comprehensive tools for running and debugging your application.

– **Running Your Code**: Simply press F5 or click the Start button to run your Python application. Visual Studio uses the Python environment specified in your project settings to execute the code.

– **Debugging**: With Visual Studio’s powerful debugger, you can set breakpoints, step through your code, inspect variables, and diagnose issues effectively. The debugging tools are accessible through the Debug menu or by clicking the relevant icons in the toolbar.

– **Using the Python Interactive Window**: For exploratory coding or quick tests, utilize the Python Interactive window. Accessible from the View menu, this REPL (Read-Eval-Print Loop) environment supports running individual lines or blocks of Python code in an interactive session.

Managing Dependencies and Virtual Environments

Effective management of dependencies and virtual environments is crucial in Python development. Visual Studio streamlines this process through its integrated tools.

– **Using Virtual Environments**: Right-click your project in the Solution Explorer and select Add > New Virtual Environment. This isolates your project’s dependencies from the global Python environment, helping avoid conflicts and ensuring consistent behavior across development setups.

– **Managing Packages**: To install external libraries, right-click your virtual environment and choose Manage Python Packages. Search for and install packages from the PyPI repository directly within Visual Studio.

Additional Features and Tips for Python Development in Visual Studio

To further enhance your Python development experience in Visual Studio, consider leveraging these additional features and tips:

– **Code Linting**: Visual Studio supports linting through extensions like Pylint, helping you catch syntax errors and enforce coding standards.

– **Unit Testing**: With integrated support for frameworks like unittest, pytest, and nose, Visual Studio makes writing and running tests straightforward.

– **Python Profiling**: Analyze your application’s performance by utilizing Visual Studio’s Python profiling tools, accessible from the Analyze menu.

– **Source Control Integration**: Use Visual Studio’s built-in source control integration for Git to manage version control directly within the IDE.

Resources for Learning More

To deepen your understanding and mastery of Python development in Visual Studio, explore the following resources:

Visual Studio Python Documentation: The official documentation offers comprehensive guides, tutorials, and reference material for Python development in Visual Studio.

Real Python Guide on VS Code for Python Development: Although focused on Visual Studio Code, this guide provides valuable insights and tips that are also applicable to Visual Studio.

Python Tutorial: This website offers Python tutorials covering various levels, from beginner to advanced, and includes topics that can be applied in a Visual Studio context.

Pluralsight: An online learning platform featuring courses on Python development in Visual Studio among a wealth of other tech subjects.

Microsoft Visual Studio YouTube Channel: Offers video tutorials, including those focusing on Python development, that can be great for visual learners.


Visual Studio emerges as a powerful ally for Python developers, combining ease of setup with a comprehensive suite of features for writing, running, and debugging Python code. Whether you’re a novice stepping into the world of development or an experienced programmer looking to streamline your workflow, Visual Studio’s Python capabilities are well-suited to meet your needs.

For beginners, the simplicity of integrating Python and running simple scripts will prove invaluable in mastering the basics. Intermediate developers can benefit from advanced debugging tools and dependency management, enhancing productivity and code quality. For advanced developers working on complex projects, features like profiling and unit testing will help refine and optimize code.

In essence, Visual Studio caters to a wide spectrum of Python development requirements, making it a versatile tool for projects of all scopes and sizes.


Can I use Visual Studio for Python development on both Windows and macOS?

Yes, Visual Studio supports Python development on both Windows and macOS, although the setup process and available features might slightly differ between the two platforms.

How does Visual Studio compare to Visual Studio Code for Python development?

While both are capable IDEs for Python development, Visual Studio is a more feature-rich, integrated development environment, whereas Visual Studio Code offers a lightweight, customizable experience. The choice depends on your project requirements and personal preference.

Do I need a license to use Visual Studio for Python development?

No, you can use the Community Edition of Visual Studio for Python development, which is free for individual developers, open-source projects, academic research, and education.

Can I work with Python web frameworks like Django or Flask in Visual Studio?

Yes, Visual Studio provides support for web development with Python, including popular frameworks like Django and Flask. You can manage projects, edit templates, and debug applications easily within the IDE.

Is Visual Studio suitable for data science projects in Python?

Absolutely. Visual Studio supports data science projects with features like Jupyter notebook support, scientific libraries integration, and data visualization tools, making it a potent environment for Python-based data analysis and machine learning projects.

Your insights and experiences can enrich this guide! If you have any corrections, comments, questions, or wish to share your experiences with running Python code in Visual Studio, feel free to contribute. Your feedback is invaluable in making this resource more comprehensive and useful for everyone.