Using Python virtual environments

If you’re not familiar with Python virtual environments, we recommend reading the virtualenv section of the Python documentation for an overview.

Below we provide a cheat sheet for the actions and commands you will use the most.

Create a virtual environment

To create a new virtual environment, go to the directory where you would like it to be placed and run the command below:

virtualenv venv

Where venv is the name of the virtual environment you would like to create. It is common practice to use venv as the name.

Activate a virtual environment

When you activate a virtual environment, virtualenv overwrites (temporarily) some environment variables to place the venv/bin directory on your $PATH and force the use of the Python interpreter and libraries installed in the virtual environment.

To activate a virtual environment:

source venv/bin/activate

When activated, you will notice that the virtual environment name is now shown on the left side of the prompt. This is done to remind you that you are working “inside” this virtual environment.

Deactivate a virtual environment

Once you are done working in the virtual environment, you can deactivate it. This will revert the environment variables back to what they were, prior to it being activated.

To deactivate a virtual environment: