PC204 --- Python Integrated DeveLopment Environment (IDLE)

IDLE ("Integrated DeveLopment Environment") is part of the standard Python distribution. When invoked, IDLE presents a Python "shell" window where you can type Python commands, e.g., for experimentation. It also provides access to a file editor that lets you create and edit Python source files. Standard Python documentation contains a terse description of IDLE and there are a number of tutorials available on the Internet (just search for "python idle tutorial" and you'll get several hundred thousand hits).

Invoking IDLE

Linux

On Linux, you can start IDLE simply by typing the command
python -c "import idlelib.idle"
at a Linux shell prompt.

Mac OS X

The standard Python distribution does not include an IDLE application that can be started from Finder, but the following procedure describes how to create a script that you can double-click to start IDLE:
  1. Start Applescript Edtor by going to the magnifying glass on the top menu bar and typing "applescript". The top hit should be the "Script Editor".
  2. Start Script Editor by either clicking on the entry or hitting the Return/Enter key.
  3. In the Script Editor, enter the following:
    do shell script "python -c 'import idlelib.idle'"
    
  4. Save the script with file format of "Application" and the name "IDLE" some place convenient, for example on your Desktop or in the Application folder.
To start IDLE, go into Finder, find the saved script and double-click on it.

Windows

The standard Python distribution includes a batch script that can be used to start IDLE, but unfortunately it's buried deep inside the installation folder. and not easy to access. The following procedure describes how to create a script that you can double-click to start IDLE:
  1. Start Notepad. An easy way to do this is to find Notepad using the Start menu search function and typing "notepad". The top hit should be either Notepad or Notepad++; either application may be used to create the script. Clicking on the entry or hitting the Return/Enter key should start the application.
  2. Add the following line to the file
    import idlelib.idle
    
    and save the file as a Python script, i.e. with a file extension of pyw. For example, save the script to your desktop as Start Idle.pyw.
To start IDLE, go into File Explorer, find the saved script and double-click on it. (If Windows asks you to choose an application for opening the file, select Python from its installation folder, typically something like C:\Python27.)

Last updated: September 30, 2015