Detailed installation guide for macOS

This is a step-by-step guide intended for those unfamiliar with Python or the command-line (a.k.a. the “shell”).

A shell can be opened by opening a new tab in the Terminal app (located in Utilities). Text that is formatted like code is meant to be copied and pasted into the terminal (hit the Enter key to run the command).

The fist step is to install the versions of Python that we need. The most convenient way of doing this is to use the Miniconda distribution of Python. Install Miniconda by downloading and running the installer script:

curl -o

Then run it with:


Once you have installed Miniconda, close and re-open your Terminal window and confirm that your python command points to the Minconda-installed version of Python, rather than your computers’s default Python, by running which python. This should print something like /Users/<your_username>/minconda3/bin/python.

Using the Miniconda Python rather than the version of Python that comes with your computer will protect your computer’s Python version from unwanted changes that could interfere with other applications.

Now we want to use the conda command-line tool (installed with Miniconda) to create an isolated Python environment within which to install PyPhi. Environments allow different projects to isolate their dependencies from one another, so that they don’t interact in unexpected ways.

conda create --name <name_of_your_project>

Once we’ve created the environment, we need to “activate” it so that when we run Python or install Python packages, we’re doing those things inside the isolated environment. To activate the environment we just created, run conda activate <name_of_your_project> (and to deactivate it, run conda deactivate, or start a new Terminal session).


Remember to activate your project’s environment every time you begin working on your project. Also, note that the currently active virtual environment is not associated with any particular folder; it is associated with a Terminal session. In other words, each time you open a new Terminal tab or Terminal window, you need to run conda activate <name_of_your_project. When the environment is active, your command-line prompt should show the name of the environment.

The first thing we need to do inside the new environment is install Python:

… code:: bash

conda install python

Now we’re ready to install PyPhi. To do this, we’ll use pip, the Python package manager:

pip install pyphi

Congratulations, we’ve just installed PyPhi!

To play around with the software, let’s install IPython. IPython provides an enhanced Python REPL that has tab-completion, syntax highlighting, and many other nice features.

pip install ipython

Now we can run ipython to start an IPython session. In the Python command-line that appears (it’s preceded by the >>> prompt), run

import pyphi

Now you’ve imported PyPhi and can start using it!

Next, please see the documentation for some examples of what PyPhi can do and information on how to configure it.