Python Tools for Visual Studio Installation

Installing PTVS is relatively easy.  You can go for a basic “Core IDE” setup, or customize it further for your particular scenario, eg Web, Scientific Computing, etc. by installing relevant packages:

PTVS install overview4

As you can see all you need to get started is Python + VS + PTVS.  This gives you full edit / debug / intellisense / browse /… capability.

Core Python IDE setup instructions

If you already have VS installed, installing PTVS and Python should take less than 5 minutes.  Let’s assume you have nothing installed and go through the steps. 

1. 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 32-bit 3.3 or 2.7 for maximum package compatibility. All versions:
Python 3.3.2 32-bit Windows Installer 
Python 2.7.5 32-bit Windows Installer
IronPython This is the .NET implementation of Python. Best for interfacing with C#.  We recommend 2.7.3. IronPython 2.7.3 32- and 64-bit Windows Installer

2. Install Visual Studio

PTVS is a plug-in that requires Visual Studio to operate.  You have two choices with Visual Studio: 

  • Pro/Ultimate – this is the full featured VS and includes Profiling.  It’s not free, though students, startups, etc. can get it for free.
  • “Python Express” edition – this is the free version and does everything except Profiling.

NOTE FOR VISUAL STUDIO EXPRESS USERS:  You cannot install PTVS into Express Editions because these versions do not accept any plug-ins.  However, you can get the equivalent “Python Express” as described below.   “Python Express 2012” can live side by side with you other VS Express editions.

Select your Visual Studio option:

Visual Studio Description Download Link
Pro/Ultimate Full VS editions.  Includes Python Profiling. Not free.  Trial available. All versions:
Pro 2012:
VS Integrated Shell 2010 VS Shell that can host PTVS.  Free, but no Profiling. 
VS Integrated Shell 2012 VS Shell that can host PTVS.  Free, but no Profiling. 1. Install first:
2. Install next:

3. Install PTVS

Alright now that we have VS installed, let’s grab PTVS:

PTVS Best for Download Link
PTVS 1.5.1 RTM Current Stable release for VS 2010 and 2012.  See Release Notes for list of features. 2012:
PTVS 2.0 Alpha Current development release for VS2012 only.  See Release Notes for list of features.

4. 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”:


Now start the Interactive Prompt: Tools/Python Tools/Python Interactive.   Enter “import sys” and “sys.version”.  You should see something similar to this:

ptvs home screen v1

5. You’re All Set!

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

What’s To Do Next?

Python Package Installation Options

What makes Python awesome is the breath/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.  Distro’s on the other hand come with 100+ packages that have been pre-built and well tested together.  We recommend installing a Distro.

1. Installing a full “Distro”

There are several Python Distros available.   Each one has free and paid versions, as well as 32/64 editions.  You should select one that matches your interpreter’s bit-ness:

Distro Distributor Download Link
Canopy Enthought, Inc
Active Python ActiveState, Inc


Note: after installing a Distro, it’ll take a few minutes before Intellisense is available for all packages.

2. Installing packages individually


Here are some recommended packages.  Generally you want to download the latest version that matches your Python interpreter and its bit-ness.  You can install these from their websites, from PyPI, or directly from Professor Chistoph Gohlke’s Python/Windows page:

Collection Distributor Download Link
CG’s Win Python Pkgs Christoph Gohlke Python Extension Packages for Windows - Christoph Gohlke

To install packages using Python’s own “pip” utility, install it from from  From then, you can simply enter a command (elevated) to grab packages, eg:

pip install Django==1.5.1

Last but not least, you can Install from each project’s corresponding website:

Package Description Download Link
Numpy Arrays, linear algebra, FFT’s, …
SciPy Stats, signal, image, ODE’s, …
Matplotlib 2D graphs and plots
IPython Super REPL with PTVS integration (such as inline graphics)

You want ipython-0.13.2.win32-py3.2.‌exe, pyreadline-2.0.win32-py3.2.‌exe and pyzmq-13.0.2.win32-py3.2.‌exe.

Pandas Stats.  Most of “R”’s cool features.
Django Popular Web Framework – PTVS has been tested with V1.4 “pip install django==1.5.1”
Azure Python SDK SDK for accessing Windows Azure services and features via Python


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

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


Last edited Jun 20, 2013 at 5:02 PM by Zooba, version 23


mika76 Feb 25, 2014 at 8:53 PM 
Answer to my question:

mika76 Feb 25, 2014 at 8:45 PM 
Why only recommend the 32bit versions of python?