PTVS Installation

Mark Sta Ana edited this page Dec 5, 2016 · 13 revisions
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Python Tools for Visual Studio Installation

Quick Start

Here's the general overview of installing the IDE:

  1. Install Visual Studio 2015 Community or higher and select Custom installation.

  2. Check "Python Tools for Visual Studio" under "Programming Languages"

  3. Install a Python interpreter and libraries (these are not bundled with PTVS)

PTVS Install

A complete and perpetually FREE Python IDE

The Python Tools for Visual Studio extension is completely free, and there are many free Visual Studio editions that can use it.

We recommend using Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition, which is the most powerful and has the best extension support. The Express for Web editions are focused on web development and have fewer features, while Express for Desktop includes C++ and features for native development but no web support.

1. Install VS & PTVS

Which one describes you? Installation steps Links
I already have Visual Studio 2015 and just want Python support Modify VS through Programs and Features and select Python Tools for Visual Studio
I already have Visual Studio 2013 and just want Python support Install PTVS and you are good to go. PTVS 2.2 for VS 2013
I only have Visual Studio 2012 or 2010, but I still want PTVS Install PTVS 2.1 PTVS 2.1 for VS 2012 and VS 2010
I don't have VS installed and want the FREE PTVS/VS version! Install VS 2015 Community Edition (recommended), Express 2015 for Web or for Desktop
Install PTVS
Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition
Express for Web
Express for Desktop
PTVS 2.2 for VS 2015

2. Select and install an interpreter

Interpreter Description Download Link
CPython This is the native Python interpreter. Best for max language and library compatibility. We recommend 3.5 32-bit for new projects or 2.7 for compatibility with legacy packages. All versions:
Python 2.7.10 32-bit
Python 3.5.0 32-bit
IronPython This is the .NET implementation of Python. Best for interfacing with C#. We recommend 2.7.5. IronPython
Anaconda This is a distribution by Continuum Analytics that includes CPython and many useful packages. Download Anaconda from Continuum Analytics
Canopy This is a distribution by Enthought that includes CPython 2.7 and many useful packages. Download Canopy from Enthought

Help me decide which interpreter is best for me.

In general, we recommend installing a distribution rather than a standalone interpreter, as most people encounter issues installing libraries. See Python Package Installation Options below for more ways to get packages.

3. Let's make sure everything installed OK

Start Visual Studio: go to File -> New -> Project. Depending on which interpreters(s) you've installed, you should see a list like this. Select "Python Application":

File New Project

Now start the Interactive Prompt: View -> Other Windows -> Python Interactive. Enter import sys and sys.version. You should see something similar to this:

Python Interactive

4. You're All Set!

You have everything you need to start programming in Python in Visual Studio.

What's Next?

If you are new to Python, check out some of these free resources:

You may wish to watch a couple of overview videos of PTVS on YouTube to get a feel for the IDE, especially if new to Visual Studio:

You may also wish to browse the wide selection of Python packages and install some that are of interest to you. You can:

  • Install individual packages
  • Install a full distro

Interested in web development? Check out the Python Developers page on

Python Package Installation Options

What makes Python awesome is the breadth and depth of freely available packages. For a taste, browse through PyPI, or's Topical Software. You can install Python packages individually or via a full "distro". Installing individual packages allows you to tailor your environment with a smaller footprint. distros on the other hand may come with hundreds packages that have been pre-built and well tested together. We generally recommend installing a distro unless you are experienced at managing packages and dependencies.

1. Installing a full distro [Recommended]

There are several Python distros available. Most have free and paid versions, as well as 32-bit and 64-bit editions.

Distro Distributor Download Link
Anaconda Continuum Analytics, Inc
Canopy Enthought, Inc
Active Python ActiveState, Inc

Note: after installing a distro, it may take some time before IntelliSense is available for all packages.

2. Installing packages individually

Here are some recommended packages. Generally you want to install packages using pip or through the interface in Visual Studio (which uses pip), as this will ensure that you get the latest version that will work with your version of Python, as well as any dependencies.

Some packages have complex dependencies and need to be downloaded manually, either from the project's website or from Christoph Gohlke's package collection.

Package Description Download Link
numpy Arrays, linear algebra, FFT's, ...
SciPy Stats, signal, image, ODE's, ...
Matplotlib 2D graphs and plots
Pandas Stats. Most of "R"'s cool features.
IPython Super REPL, with some integration in PTVS Install IPython
Django Popular Web Framework Install django
Azure Python SDK SDK for accessing Windows Azure services and features via Python Install azure


If you are having trouble with installation or need some recommendations:

  • Check the issues tracker. Many installation questions have already been answered and can be searched.
  • Start a new issue/discussion. Someone from the community or the PTVS team will get you going quickly.