Getting started with ActivePython on Windows

  • Install Location: %SystemDrive%\Python36 (usuallyC:\Python36) by default, but can be specified at install time.
  • Local Documentation: The ActivePython Documentation link in the ActiveState ActivePython 3.6 program group of the Start menu.

Running Python and the Interactive Shell

The ActivePython installer on Windows will automatically add python to your PATH environment variable so you should be able to run python at the DOS shell to start the Python interactive shell. You can also start the Python interactive shell from the ActivePython program group under the Windows Start menu. You should see something like the following:

ActivePython (ActiveState Software Inc.) based on
Python 3.6.0 (default, Mar 21 2017, 09:33:37) [MSC v.1310 32 bit (Intel)] on win32
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

You can use the Python shell to interactively run Python code. This can be very useful development and debugging tool. Learn how to use Python’s built-in dir() and help() introspection functions to dive into Python objects. For example, try running the following:

>>> import os.path
>>> dir(os.path)
list of members of os.path module...
>>> help(os.path)
MAN page-like description of the os.path module...
>>> help(os.path.join)
help on the join function...

Read the Python Tutorial for more information.

GUI Programming

Tkinter is Python’s binding to the cross-platform Tk GUI toolkit and is a default part of any ActivePython installation.

wxPython is another popular cross-platform GUI programming toolkit. It is available separately from

Python includes a large number of GUI programming toolkits and while Tkinter and wxPython are the primary two contenders on Windows, there are some other options. The included PyWin32 extensions provide some bindings to Windows UI routines (win32ui, win32uiole). As well there are the PyQT and PyGTK bindings to the QT and GTK GUI toolkits, respectively. They are both available separately. Both QT’s and GTK’s main roots are in the Linux/Unix platform, but they are available for Windows as well.

Windows-specific Libraries and Tools

ActivePython on Windows includes the PyWin32 extensions. These extensions provide bindings to much of the Windows API, full Windows COM integration, and the Pythonwin IDE (a basic Python editing environment). Read more about the Windows API and COM integration in the PyWin32 documentation (only included in the ActivePython documentation on Windows).