Setting Up Python: pyenv, pyenv-virtualenv, poetry

These are steps to install and set up Python on a Mac.

Skip to the sections below:

Additional reference on alternative choices: Real Python: An Effective Python Environment

pyenv: Python Version Manager

Docs: GitHub - pyenv/pyenv

A Python Version Manager allows usage of different version of python, and manages which Python to use in the current session, globally, or on a per-project basis.

Install pyenv

$ brew update
$ brew install openssl readline sqlite3 xz zlib
$ brew install pyenv

Update .bash_profile or .zshrc

Add pyenv init to your shell to enable shims and autocompletion.

Make sure eval “$(pyenv init -)” is placed toward the end of the shell configuration file since it manipulates PATH during the initialization.

eval "$(pyenv init -)"

Restart your shell so the path changes take effect and begin using pyenv.

$ exec "$SHELL"

[Troubleshooting: Failed Install on Mac OS X 10.14]: Error: "zlib not available":

If you run into installation issues, consider looking into these possible solutions:

Reinstall Xcode Command Line Tools

$ sudo rm -rf /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools

$ xcode-select --install

When running Mojave or higher (10.14+) you will also need to install the additional SDK headers:


$ sudo installer -pkg /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/Packages/macOS_SDK_headers_for_macOS_10.14.pkg -target /

pyenv Workflow Commands

Docs: Command Reference

Make 3.7.4 globally available so there is no messing with our system python:

$ pyenv versions

$ pyenv install --list
$ pyenv install 3.7.4

$ pyenv global 3.7.4

pyenv-virtualenv: Virtual Environment

Docs: GitHub - pyenv/pyenv-virtualenv

A Python Virtual Environment Manager allows setting different projects with its own set of version dependencies. When a package is installed in a virtual environment, it is kept in isolation from other Python environments you may have.

Install pyenv-virtualenv

$ brew install pyenv-virtualenv

Update .bash_profile or .zshrc

eval "$(pyenv virtualenv-init -)"

pyenv-virtualenv Workflow Commands

Docs: Command Reference

Set up a new virtual environment and activate it

# Create virtual environment
$ pyenv virtualenv 3.7.4 my-env

# Activate virtual environment
$ pyenv activate my-env

# Exit virtual environment
(my-env)$ pyenv deactivate

Set up new virtual environments within a directory

pyenv-virtualenv allows configuring a virtual environment using the pyenv local command and have pyenv-virtualenv auto-activate the right environments as you switch to different directories

When entering into the directory, pyenv will also activate the new-project virtual environment, and will deactivate the virtual environment on exiting the directory.

# Set up two new virtual environments, env1 and env2
$ pyenv virtualenv 3.7.4 env1
$ pyenv virtualenv 3.7.4 env2

# Set up the env1 virtual environment in a new directory
$ mkdir proj1
$ cd proj1
$ pyenv local env1(env1)$ # env1 virtual environment is now active in this directory

# Set up the env2 virtual environment in a new directory
(env1)$ mkdir ../proj2
(env1)$ cd ../proj2
$ pyenv local env2
# Check that the proj2 directory has the env2 virtual environment activated
(env2)$ pyenv versions
* env2 (set by /Users/duncanleung/proj2/.python-version)

Check the Installation

The correct installation should reference the $PATH from .../.pyenv/shims/python.

$ which Python

If the $PATH is referencing /usr/bin/python then pyenv-virtualenv needs to be added to the shell in ~/.zshrc or ~/.bash_profile.

$ which Python
  /usr/bin/python # This is wrong!

Check the version of python to see if the correct version is being used.

$ python --version
  Python 3.7.4

Delete an existing virtualenv

$ pyenv virtualenvs
$ pyenv uninstall env1

Poetry: Package Manager

Docs: GitHub - poetry

Package managers work in tandem with virtual environments, isolating the packages you install in one Python environment from another.

Package manager generally create a lock file to act as a snapshot of the precise set of packages installed, including direct dependencies as well as their sub-dependencies.

poetry also creates a pyproject.toml file which contains metadata about the project as well as dependency versions.

poetry has a benefit over pipenv because it keeps track of which packages are subdependencies, allowing cleaner uninstalls to also remove dependencies of a package


Install poetry

$ curl -sSL | python

$ source $HOME/.poetry/env

Install tab completions for poetry

$ mkdir $ZSH/plugins/poetry

$ poetry completions zsh > $ZSH/plugins/poetry/_poetry

Update poetry

poetry self update

poetry Workflow Commands

Docs: Command Reference

Install packages with poetry add.

Install dev dependency packages with poetry add --dev

# Install the requests package and its dependencies
$ poetry add requests

# List all of the available packages
$ poetry show

# Uninstall the requests package and its dependencies
$ poetry remove requests