PyCharm 2017.1 Help

Quick Start Guide

This Quick Start Guide is designed to introduce the key concepts and help you make a quick start with the IDE.

Step 0. Before you start

Which languages does PyCharm support?

With PyCharm you can develop applications in Python. In addition, one can develop Django, Flask, Pyramid and WebToPy applications. Also, it fully supports HTML (including HTML5), CSS, JavaScript, and XML: these languages are bundled in the IDE via plugins and are switched on for you by default. Support for other languages can also be added via plugins (go to Settings | Plugins (or PyCharm | Preferences | Plugins for macOS users) to find out more or set them up during the first IDE launch).

What platforms can I run PyCharm on?

PyCharm is a cross-platform IDE that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

What do I need to start with PyCharm? What are the system requirements?

In general to start developing in Python with PyCharm you need the following (depending on your platform):


System RequirementsInstallation
  • Microsoft Windows 10/8/7/Vista/2003/XP (incl.64-bit)
  • Python 2.4 or higher, Jython, PyPy or IronPython.
  1. Download PyCharm from the Download page.
  2. Run the pycharm-professional or pycharm-community-*.exe file that starts the Installation Wizard.
  3. Follow all steps suggested by the wizard. Pay special attention to the corresponding installation options.


System Requirements Installation
  • macOS 10.5 or higher.
  • Only 64-bit macOS is supported.
  • Python 2.4 or higher, Jython, PyPy or IronPython
  1. Download the pycharm-professional or pycharm-community-*.dmg macOS Disk Image file from the Download page.
  2. Double-click the downloaded pycharm-professional or pycharm-community-*.dmg macOS Disk Image file to mount it.
  3. Copy PyCharm to your Applications folder.


System RequirementsInstallation
  • OS Linux 64 bit
  • KDE, GNOME or Unity DE desktop
  • Python 2.4 or higher, Jython, PyPy or IronPython
  1. Download the <pycharm-professional or pycharm-community>-*.tar.gz file from the Download page.
  2. Unpack the <pycharm-professional or pycharm-community>-*.tar.gz file to a different folder, if your current "Download" folder doesn't support file execution:
    tar xfz <pycharm-professional or pycharm-community>-*.tar.gz <new_archive_folder>

    The recommended install location according to the filesystem hierarchy standard (FHS) is /opt. For example, it's possible to enter the following command:

    sudo tar xf <pycharm-professional or pycharm-community>-*.tar.gz -C /opt/
  3. Switch to the bin directory:
    cd <new archive folder>/<pycharm-professional or pycharm-community>-*/bin
    For example,
    cd opt/<pycharm-professional or pycharm-community>-*/bin
  4. Run from the bin subdirectory.

Why do I need a project?

Everything you do in PyCharm is done within the context of a project. It serves as a basis for coding assistance, bulk refactoring, coding style consistency, etc.

Step 1. Open/Create a project in PyCharm

You have three options to start working on a project inside the IDE:

Open an existing project

Begin by opening one of your existing projects stored on your computer. You can do by clicking Open Project on the Welcome screen (or choosig File | Open in the IDE):


Otherwise select the command Import Project from Sources and specify the location of the sources, then select project files and directories:


PyCharm will then create a project from your sources for you.

Refer to the section Importing Project from Existing Source Code for details.

Check out an existing project from Version Control

You can also download sources from a VCS storage or repository. Choose Git (GitHub), CVS, Mercurial, Subversion, Perforce (supported in Professional edition only), and then enter your credentials to access the storage.

Then, enter a path to the sources and clone the repository to the local host:


Refer to the section Getting Local Working Copy of the Repository or Setting Up a Local Git Repository for details.

Create a project from scratch

If you prefer to start from scratch, click New Project on the Welcome screen, enter your project’s name in the dialog, and a Python project will be created.

Refer to the section Creating and Managing Projects for details.

Step 2. Look around

When you launch PyCharm for the very first time, or when there are no open projects, you see the Welcome screen. It gives you the main entry points into the IDE: creating or opening a project, checking out a project from version control, viewing documentation, and configuring the IDE.

When a project is opened, you see the main window divided into several logical areas. Let’s take a moment to see the key UI elements here:

  1. Project view on the left side displays your project files.
  2. Editor on the right side, where you actually write your code. It has tabs for easy navigation between open files.
  3. Navigation bar above the editor additionally allows you to quickly run and debug your application as well as do the basic VCS actions.
  4. Left gutter, the vertical stripe next to the editor, shows the breakpoints you have, and provides a convenient way to navigate through the code hierarchy like going to definition/declaration. It also shows line numbers and per-line VCS history.
  5. Right gutter, on the right side of the editor. PyCharm constantly monitors the quality of your code and always shows the results of its code analysis in the right gutter: errors, warnings, etc. The indicator in the top right-hand corner shows the overall status of code analysis for the entire file.
  6. Tool windows are specialized windows attached to the bottom and sides of the workspace and provide access to typical tasks such as project management, source code search and navigation, integration with version control systems, etc. Refer to the section PyCharm Tool Windows for details.
  7. The status bar indicates the status of your project and the entire IDE, and shows various warnings and information messages like file encoding, line separator, inspection profile, etc. Refer to the section Status Bar for details.

Step 3. Customize your environment

Feel free to tweak the IDE so it suits your needs perfectly and is as helpful and comfortable as it can be. Go to File | Settings (PyCharm | Preferences for macOS users) to see the list of available customization options.


The first thing to fine-tune is the general "look and feel." Go to File | Settings | Appearance and Behavior | Appearance (PyCharm | Preferences | Appearance and Behavior | Appearance for macOS users) to select the IDE theme: the default light theme, or Darcula if you prefer a darker setting.


The many pages available under File | Settings | Editor (PyCharm | Preferences | Editor for macOS users) help you adjust every aspect of the editor’s behavior. A lot of options are available here, from general settings (like Drag'n'Drop enabling, scrolling configuration, etc.), to color configuration for each available language and use case, to tabs and code folding settings, to code completion behavior and even postfix templates.

Code style

Code style can be defined for each language under File | Settings | Editor | Code Style (PyCharm | Preferences | Editor | Code Style for macOS users). You can also create and save your own coding style scheme.



PyCharm uses the keyboard-centric approach, meaning that nearly all actions possible in the IDE are mapped to keyboard shortcuts. The set of keyboard shortcuts you work with is one of your most intimate habits — your fingers "remember" certain combinations of keys, and changing this habit is easier said than done. PyCharm supplies you with a default keymap (choose Help | Keymap Reference on the main menu) making your coding really productive and convenient. However, you can always change it by going to File | Settings | Keymap (PyCharm | Preferences | Keymap for macOS users).

There are also some pre-defined keymaps (like Emacs, Visual Studio, Eclipse, NetBeans etc.), and you can also create your own keymap based on an existing one.

If you feel most productive with vi/Vim, an emulation mode will give you the best of both worlds. Simply enable the IdeaVim plugin in the IDE and select the vim keymap.

Step 4. Code with smart assistance

PyCharm takes care of the routine so that you can focus on the important. Use the following coding capabilities to create error-free applications without wasting precious time.

Code completion

Code completion is a great time-saver, regardless of the type of file you’re working with.

Basic completion works as you type and completes any name instantly.

Second completion analyzes the context you’re currently working in and offers more accurate suggestions based on that analysis.


Intention actions

PyCharm keeps an eye on what you are currently doing and makes smart suggestions, called intention actions, to save more of your time. Indicated with a lightbulb, intention actions let you apply automatic changes to code that is correct (in contrast to code inspections that provides quick-fixes for code that may be incorrect). Did you forget to add some parameters and field initializers to the constructor? Not a problem with PyCharm. Click the lightbulb (or press Alt+Enter) and select one of the suggested options:


The full list of available intention actions can be found in File Settings | Editor | Intentions or PyCharm | Preferences | Editor | Intentions for macOS users.

Step 5. Keep your code neat

PyCharm monitors your code and tries to keep it accurate and clean. It detects potential errors and problems and suggests quick-fixes for them.

Every time the IDE finds unused code, an endless loop, and many other things that likely require your attention, you’ll see a lightbulb. Click it, or press Alt+Enter, to apply a fix.

The complete list of available inspections can be found under Settings | Editor | Inspections (or PyCharm | Preferences | Editor | Inspections for macOS users). Disable some of them, or enable others, plus adjust the severity of each inspection. You decide whether it should be considered an error or just a warning.

Step 6. Generate some code

Writing code can be a lot easier and quicker when you use the code generation options available in PyCharm. The Code | Generate menu (Alt+Insert) will help you with creating symbols from usage, as well as suggest overriding/implementing some functions:


Use live templates (choose Code | Insert Live Template or press Ctrl+J) to produce the entire code constructs. You can explore the available ready-to-use live templates in the Settings/Preferences dialog (Settings | Editor | Live templates or PyCharm | Preferences | Editor | Live Templates if you are a macOS user).

If you see that you are lacking something especially important for your development, extend this set of templates with your own. Also, consider quickly surrounding your code with complete constructs (choose Code | Surround With or press Ctrl+Alt+T. For example, select an if statement:


and you will get:


Step 7. Find your way through

When your project is big, or when you have to work with someone else’s code, it’s vital to be able to quickly find what you are looking for and dig into the code. This is why PyCharm comes with a set of navigation and search features that help you find your way through any code no matter how tangled it is.

Basic search

To find where a particular symbol is used, PyCharm suggests full-scale search via Find Usages (Alt+F7):


You also have the option to search only in the current file (Ctrl+F), or within a directory, any arbitrary scope, or the entire project (Ctrl+Shift+F).

Project navigation

You can tell a lot just looking at your File Structure, with its imports or call hierarchies, and possibly use it to navigate to:

The icons in the left-hand gutter can also help you with navigation:

Navigate through the timeline

Remembering all your activity in the project, PyCharm can easily navigate you to the Recent Files (Ctrl+E) or Recently Changed Files (Shift+Alt+C).

To go through the history of changes, try using Back/Forward navigation (Ctrl+Alt+Left/ Ctrl+Alt+Right) and/or go to last edit location (Ctrl+Shift+Backspace).

Find Action

Take advantage of many smart actions possible with PyCharm. For example, use the Find Action search (Ctrl+Shift+A): just type a part of the action name, and the IDE will show you the list of all available options. Then, select the action you need:


Search Everywhere

If you have a general idea of what you're looking for, you can always locate the corresponding element using one of the existing navigation features. But what if you really want to look for something in every nook and cranny? The answer is to use Search Everywhere! To try it, click the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner of the window, or invoke it with Double Shift (press Shift twice).

Step 8. Run and debug

Run configuration

Now when you’ve played with the code and discovered what you can do with it, it’s time to run your app. In PyCharm you do this via the Run/Debug Configurations. Open Run | Edit Configurations to see all the available options. For example, if you want to run some script before/after the build phase, you can do this easily by creating an external tool:


To run a configuration, press Shift+F10.


Does your application stumble on a run-time error? To find out what’s causing it, you will have to do some debugging. PyCharm supports the debugger on all platforms.

Debugging starts with placing breakpoints at which program execution will be suspended, so you can explore program data. Just click the left gutter of the line where you want the breakpoint to appear. To start debugging your application, press Shift+F9. Then go through the program execution step by step (see the available options in the Run menu or in the Debug tool window), evaluate any arbitrary expression, add watches and manually set values for the variables.

Step 9. Keep your source code under Version Control


If you are keeping your source code under version control, you will be glad to know that PyCharm integrates with many popular version control systems: Git (or GitHub), Mercurial, Perforce (supported in Professional edition only), Subversion and CVS. To specify credentials and any settings specific to a particular VCS, go to Settings | Current Project | Version Control (or PyCharm | Preferences | Current Project | Version Control if you are macOS user).

The VCS menu gives you a clue about what commands are available. For example, you can see the changes you’ve made, commit them, create changelists and much more from the Local Changes view: VCS | Show Changes (or just press Alt+9). Also find some VCS basic commands in the Navigation bar above the editor:


Refer to the section Version Control with PyCharm for details.

Local history

In addition to traditional version control, you can use the local history. With Local History, PyCharm automatically tracks changes you make to the source code, the results of refactoring, etc. Local history is always enabled. To view it for a file or a folder, bring up Local History by selecting VCS | Local History | Show History. Here you can review the changes, revert them or create a patch.

Refer to the section Using Local History for details.

Step 10. That’s it! Go ahead and develop with pleasure!

We hope this brief overview of essential PyCharm features will give you a quick start. There are many important features that make a developer’s life easier and more fun, and their source code neater and cleaner. Take these first few steps now, and then dig deeper when you feel the time is right. Enjoy PyCharm!

With any questions please visit our Discussion Forum, twitter and blog, where you can find news, updates, and useful tips and tricks. Also, don't hesitate to report any problems to our support team) or the PyCharm issue tracker.

See Also

Language and Framework-Specific Guidelines:

Last modified: 26 July 2017