How to run multiple Python versions on Windows


I had two versions of Python installed on my machine (versions 2.6 and 2.5). I want to run 2.6 for one project and 2.5 for another.

How can I specify which I want to use?

I am working on Windows XP SP2.

11/27/2017 3:39:10 PM

Accepted Answer

Running a different copy of Python is as easy as starting the correct executable. You mention that you've started a python instance, from the command line, by simply typing python.

What this does under Windows, is to trawl the %PATH% environment variable, checking for an executable, either batch file (.bat), command file (.cmd) or some other executable to run, that matches the name given. When it finds the correct file to run, it does it.

Now, if you've installed two python versions 2.5 and 2.6, the path will have both of their directories in it, something like PATH=c:\python\2.5;c:\python\2.6 but Windows will stop examining the path when it finds a match.

What you really need to do is to explicitly call one or both of the applications, such as c:\python\2.5\python.exe or c:\python\2.6\python.exe.

The other alternative is to create a shortcut to the respective python.exe calling one of them python25 and the other python26; you can then simply run python25 on your command line.

1/3/2011 11:54:11 AM

Adding two more solutions to the problem:

  • Use pylauncher (if you have Python 3.3 or newer there's no need to install it as it comes with Python already) and either add shebang lines to your scripts;

#! c:\[path to Python 2.5]\python.exe - for scripts you want to be run with Python 2.5
#! c:\[path to Python 2.6]\python.exe - for scripts you want to be run with Python 2.6

or instead of running python command run pylauncher command (py) specyfing which version of Python you want;

py -2.6 – version 2.6
py -2 – latest installed version 2.x
py -3.4 – version 3.4
py -3 – latest installed version 3.x

virtualenv -p c:\[path to Python 2.5]\python.exe [path where you want to have virtualenv using Python 2.5 created]\[name of virtualenv]

virtualenv -p c:\[path to Python 2.6]\python.exe [path where you want to have virtualenv using Python 2.6 created]\[name of virtualenv]

for example

virtualenv -p c:\python2.5\python.exe c:\venvs\2.5

virtualenv -p c:\python2.6\python.exe c:\venvs\2.6

then you can activate the first and work with Python 2.5 like this
and when you want to switch to Python 2.6 you do


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