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A better Python REPL

pip install ptpython

Ptpython is an advanced Python REPL. It should work on all Python versions from 2.6 up to 3.7 and work cross platform (Linux, BSD, OS X and Windows).

Note: this version of ptpython requires at least Python 3.6. Install ptpython 2.0.5 for older Python versions.


Install it using pip:

pip install ptpython

Start it by typing ptpython.


  • Syntax highlighting.
  • Multiline editing (the up arrow works).
  • Autocompletion.
  • Mouse support. [1]
  • Support for color schemes.
  • Support for bracketed paste [2].
  • Both Vi and Emacs key bindings.
  • Support for double width (Chinese) characters.
  • ... and many other things.

[1] Disabled by default. (Enable in the menu.)

[2] If the terminal supports it (most terminals do), this allows pasting without going into paste mode. It will keep the indentation.

More screenshots

The configuration menu:

The history page and its help:


Embedding the REPL

Embedding the REPL in any Python application is easy:

from ptpython.repl import embed
embed(globals(), locals())

You can make ptpython your default Python REPL by creating a PYTHONSTARTUP file containing code like this:

import sys
    from ptpython.repl import embed
except ImportError:
    print("ptpython is not available: falling back to standard prompt")
    sys.exit(embed(globals(), locals()))

Multiline editing

Multi-line editing mode will automatically turn on when you press enter after a colon.

To execute the input in multi-line mode, you can either press Alt+Enter, or Esc followed by Enter. (If you want the first to work in the OS X terminal, you have to check the "Use option as meta key" checkbox in your terminal settings. For iTerm2, you have to check "Left option acts as +Esc" in the options.)

Syntax validation

Before execution, ptpython will see whether the input is syntactically correct Python code. If not, it will show a warning, and move the cursor to the error.

Additional features

Running system commands: Press Meta-! in Emacs mode or just ! in Vi navigation mode to see the "Shell command" prompt. There you can enter system commands without leaving the REPL.

Selecting text: Press Control+Space in Emacs mode or V (major V) in Vi navigation mode.


It is possible to create a $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/ptpython/ file to customize the configuration.

Have a look at this example to see what is possible:

IPython support

Run ptipython (prompt_toolkit - IPython), to get a nice interactive shell with all the power that IPython has to offer, like magic functions and shell integration. Make sure that IPython has been installed. (pip install ipython)

This is also available for embedding:

from ptpython.ipython.repl import embed
embed(globals(), locals())

Django support

django-extensions has a shell_plus management command. When ptpython has been installed, it will by default use ptpython or ptipython.


There is an experimental PDB replacement: ptpdb.

Windows support

prompt_toolkit and ptpython works better on Linux and OS X than on Windows. Some things might not work, but it is usable:


Q: The Ctrl-S forward search doesn't work and freezes my terminal.

A: Try to run stty -ixon in your terminal to disable flow control.

Q: The Meta-key doesn't work.

A: For some terminals you have to enable the Alt-key to act as meta key, but you can also type Escape before any key instead.


If you find another alternative, you can create an issue and we'll list it here. If you find a nice feature somewhere that is missing in ptpython, also create a GitHub issue and maybe we'll implement it.

Special thanks to

  • Pygments: Syntax highlighter.
  • Jedi: Autocompletion library.
  • Docopt: Command-line interface description language.
  • wcwidth: Determine columns needed for a wide characters.
  • prompt_toolkit for the interface.
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