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How to run a Python script in terminal

Getting Started: Understanding Terminals and Python Scripts

Before we dive into running Python scripts in a terminal, let's first understand what these terms actually mean.

A terminal is a text-based interface where you can interact with your computer. You type commands into the terminal, and the computer performs those commands. If you have used Windows, you might be familiar with the command prompt or Powershell. On macOS, it's called Terminal. On Linux, it could be called Terminal, Konsole, or a bunch of other names.

A Python script is a set of commands written in Python programming language that you can run as a single program. It's like a recipe - the script is the list of ingredients and steps, and when you run the script, you're making the recipe.

Getting Your Python Script Ready

Before we can run a Python script, we obviously need a script to run. Let's create a simple Python script that prints "Hello, World!". Open up a text editor (like Notepad or TextEdit), type the following line of code, and save the file as

print("Hello, World!")

This script is about as simple as it gets - all it does is print the phrase "Hello, World!".

Running the Python Script in Terminal

Now that we have our Python script, let's run it in the terminal. Here's how you can do that.

First, open up your terminal. The way to do this depends on your operating system:

  • On Windows, press Win + X and choose either Command Prompt or Powershell.
  • On macOS, press ⌘ + Space, type Terminal, and press Enter.
  • On Linux, it depends on your distribution - try pressing Ctrl + Alt + T.

Once you have the terminal open, you need to navigate to the directory where you saved your Python script. You can do this using the cd command, which stands for "change directory". For example, if you saved to your Documents folder, you would type:

cd Documents

Then, you can run your Python script by typing python followed by the name of the script:


When you press Enter, your computer will run the Python script and print "Hello, World!" to the terminal.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

If you're having trouble running your Python script, here are a few things to check:

Is Python installed? To check, type python --version into the terminal. If Python is installed, this command will print the version of Python that you have. If it's not installed, you'll need to download and install it from

Are you in the right directory? The cd command only works if the directory you're trying to change to exists. If you're getting an error like "No such file or directory", make sure that you're in the right place. You can use the ls command (or dir on Windows) to list the files in the current directory.

Did you type the script name correctly? Python script names are case-sensitive, so is different from Make sure you're typing the script name exactly as it is, including the .py extension.

A Step Further: Automating Tasks with Python Scripts

Running a Python script from the terminal isn't just for printing "Hello, World!". You can use Python scripts to automate all sorts of tasks. For example, you could write a script to rename all the files in a directory, download all the images from a website, or even send yourself an email. The possibilities are practically endless!

Conclusion: The Power of Python and Terminal

Think about it: with just a few lines of code and a simple python in the terminal, you've commanded your computer to perform a task. It's like your computer is a big, powerful robot, and you're the one holding the remote control.

Running Python scripts in the terminal is a bit like learning a new language. At first, it might seem intimidating, but as you practice and learn more commands, it becomes a natural part of your day-to-day programming life.

Remember, every professional programmer once sat where you are now, not knowing how to run a Python script in a terminal. You're learning the essential skills that will help you command your computer to do amazing things. So, keep practicing, keep experimenting, and keep learning. Happy coding!