In this tutorial, we’ll explore how to configure your machine to use the
python command instead of
When you install Python 3 or the latest version of Python on your Mac, it’s typically executed using the
python3 command. However, if you prefer to use Python 3 while running it with just the
python command, this guide is for you.
Before we proceed with the tutorial, I assume that you already have Python installed on your Mac. If you haven’t installed it yet, please refer to this guide on how to install Python on your Mac.
Let’s dive in.
Mapping ‘python’ to ‘python3’
To change the default
python3 command on your Mac to point to
python, you can create an alias. This is done by modifying your shell’s configuration file. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Open Terminal
You can find it in the Applications folder under Utilities, or search for it using Spotlight.
Step 2: Determine Your Shell
macOS uses either bash or zsh as the default shell. You can determine which one you’re using by running
echo $SHELL in the terminal.
Step 3: Edit the Configuration File
- If you’re using bash, you’ll edit
- If you’re using zsh, you’ll edit
Step 4: Add an Alias
Open the appropriate file in a text editor, such as Nano, by typing
nano ~/.bash_profile or
nano ~/.zshrc (depending on your shell).
Add the following line to the file:
Save and close the file (in Nano, this is done by pressing Ctrl + X , then Y to confirm, and Enter to exit).
Step 5: Apply the Changes
For the changes to take effect, you either need to restart your terminal or source the profile file by typing
source ~/.bash_profile or
After doing this, when you type python in your terminal, it should now use
python3. Keep in mind that this change is specific to your user account on the Mac, and it won’t affect system-level Python configurations.
Didn’t Work? Check the Following:
If setting an alias didn’t work, there might be a few reasons why. Let’s try a different approach:
1. Check Your Shell Again
First, ensure that you edited the correct configuration file for your shell. Run
echo $SHELL in the Terminal to confirm your shell. If it’s zsh, the file is
~/.zshrc. For bash, it’s one of
2. Verify Alias Syntax
Make sure that the alias line in your configuration file is exactly as follows:
There should be no extra spaces or characters.
3. Recheck Configuration File
Double-check that you saved the changes to the configuration file.
4. Source the Configuration File
source ~/.zshrc (for zsh) or
source ~/.bash_profile (for bash) to apply the changes immediately. If this step is missed, the alias won’t work until the next time you log in.
5. Restart Terminal
After sourcing the configuration file, close and reopen the Terminal. Sometimes a fresh start is needed.
6. Check for Conflicts
If you have other configuration files (like
~/.profile), they might conflict. Check those files for any existing python
7. Check Your PATH
Ensure that the directory containing the
python3 executable is in your
echo $PATH to see your current
8. Test the Alias Directly
Try setting the alias directly in the Terminal (not through the file) to see if it works:
alias python='python3' python --version
If this works, the issue is likely with how the configuration file is being sourced.
9. Use Absolute Path
If the alias still doesn’t work, you can use the absolute path to the
python3 executable. Find it using which python3, and then set the alias with that path: