Using Apple python 2.7 and pip in macOS

Apple includes python 2.7 with macOS. This brief overview explains how to use python 2.7 without the need for sudo or installing to system folders.

Most users install python 2.7 using the homebrew package manager or by directly downloading python 2.7 from This results in two or more versions of python 2 installed on the same machine. Below is a third option that uses python 2.7 included with macOS and safely installs pip packages in a user directory rather than systems folders requiring sudo privilages.

Python version

Check the python version in macOS

python -v
Python 2.7.10

Which Python

Check the python binary file macOS executes by default using the which command. In most cases it will default to /usr/bin/python unless another version of python has been installed.

which python

Adding -a will indicate if there is more than one version installed.

which -a python

Assuming /usr/bin/python ensure the pip package manager is installed

which -a pip

If pip is not installed run easy_install.

sudo easy_install pip
Searching for pip
Best match: pip 18.1
Adding pip 18.1 to easy-install.pth file
Installing pip script to /usr/local/bin
Installing pip3.7 script to /usr/local/bin
Installing pip3 script to /usr/local/bin

Using /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages
Processing dependencies for pip
Finished processing dependencies for pip

Add the following line to .bash_profile in your home directory. This follows best practices and will install packages in a local user folder without the need for root privilages or accessing system folders.

export PATH="$HOME/Library/Python/2.7/bin:$PATH"

Close terminal and re-open it, or source the file.

source ~/.bash_profile

Installing pylint helps with code analysis, error detection, and is supported by many editors.

pip install pylint --user
Installing pylint in /Users/mh/Library/Python/2.7/lib/python/site-packages (1.9.3)

Install pipenv for managing python projects in a virtual environment. Highly recommended.

pip install pipenv --user

Make a new directory for a python project and run pipenv and sepcify the python version the project will use.

cd ~/Documents/GitHub
mkdir myproject
cd myproject

pipenv --python 2.7
Creating a virtualenv for this project...
Pipfile: /Users/mh/Documents/GitHub/myproject/Pipfile
Using /usr/bin/python (2.7.10) to create virtualenv...
⠹ Creating virtual environment...Already using interpreter /usr/bin/python
New python executable in /Users/mh/.local/share/virtualenvs/myproject-MzfeKDeP/bin/python
Installing setuptools, pip, wheel...

✔ Successfully created virtual environment! 
Virtualenv location: /Users/mh/.local/share/virtualenvs/myproject-MzfeKDeP
Creating a Pipfile for this project...

Read more on pipenv and check this handy list of common commands from Brad Traversy.