Python Tools for Visual Studio Installation

Installing PTVS is relatively easy.    You basically need three things:

1) Visual Studio (paid Pro+ version or free Express versions (starting w 2.1Beta))

2) PTVS extension (this gives VS Python support)

3) A Python interpreter and Python Libraries (these are *not* bundled with PTVS)

ptvs 2.1 beta installation pic

A complete and perpetually FREE Python IDE

Starting with 2.1 Beta and VS 2013, you can install PTVS into Express for Web and Express for Desktop editions!  The result is a powerful Python IDE that doesn’t cost anything.  The Express for Web edition is focused on Web development, while the Express for Desktop includes C++, etc.  

1. Install VS & PTVS

Which one describes you? Installation steps Links

I already have Visual Studio and just want to install PTVS!

  • Install the PTVS extension & you are good to go.

2013: PTVS 2.0 VS 2013.msi (Recommended)
2012: PTVS 2.0 VS 2012.msi
2010: PTVS 2.0 VS 2010.msi

[see Downloads page for latest]

I don’t have VS installed and want the Free PTVS+VS Version!

  • Install the “Express 2013 for Web” or
  • “Express 2013 for Desktop” package
  • Install PTVS

VS Express 2013 for Web

VS Express 2013 for Desktop


2. Select and install an interpreter

Interpreter Description Download Link


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


This is the .NET implementation of Python. Best for interfacing with C#.  We recommend 2.7.3.

2.7.4: IronPython 2.7.4

Help me decide which interpreter to use.

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”:


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


4. 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” [Recommended]

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
Anaconda Continuum Analytics, Inc
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

Starting with PTVS 2.0Beta, you can install packages directly from within PTVS.  You can also install packages from outside VS and they’ll show up in the list of installed packages for that Interpreter.

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)

Or use Canopy or Anaconda

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 24, 2014 at 12:52 AM by ptools, version 65


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?