How do I repeat the last command? The usual keys: Up, Ctrl+Up, Alt-p don’t work. They produce nonsensical characters.

(ve)[[email protected] ve]$ python
Python 2.6.6 (r266:84292, Nov 15 2010, 21:48:32) 
[GCC 4.4.4 20100630 (Red Hat 4.4.4-10)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> print "hello world"
hello world
>>> ^[[A
  File "<stdin>", line 1
SyntaxError: invalid syntax
>>> ^[[1;5A
  File "<stdin>", line 1
SyntaxError: invalid syntax
>>> ^[p
  File "<stdin>", line 1
SyntaxError: invalid syntax

In IDLE, go to Options -> Configure IDLE -> Keys and there select history-next and then history-previous to change the keys.

Then click on Get New Keys for Selection and you are ready to choose whatever key combination you want.

I use the following to enable history on python shell.

This is my .pythonstartup file . PYTHONSTARTUP environment variable is set to this file path.

# python startup file 
import readline 
import rlcompleter 
import atexit 
import os 
# tab completion 
readline.parse_and_bind('tab: complete') 
# history file 
histfile = os.path.join(os.environ['HOME'], '.pythonhistory') 
except IOError: 
atexit.register(readline.write_history_file, histfile) 
del os, histfile, readline, rlcompleter

You will need to have the modules readline, rlcompleter to enable this.

Check out the info on this at :

Modules required:


Alt + p for previous command from histroy,
Alt + n for next command from history.

This is default configure, and you can change these key shortcut at your preference from Options -> Configure IDLE.

You didn’t specify which environment. Assuming you are using IDLE.

From IDLE documentation:
Command history:

Alt-p retrieves previous command matching what you have typed.
Alt-n retrieves next.
      (These are Control-p, Control-n on the Mac)
Return while cursor is on a previous command retrieves that command.
Expand word is also useful to reduce typing.

Ctrl+p is the normal alternative to the up arrow. Make sure you have gnu readline enabled in your Python build.

ALT + p works for me on Enthought Python in Windows.

On Ubuntu Server 12.04, I had this problem after installing a version of Python from source (Python3.4).

Some of the comments here recommend installing Ipython and I want to mention that I have the same behavior even with Ipython. From what I can tell, this is a readline problem.

For Ubuntu 12.04 server, I had to install libncurses-dev and libreadline-dev and then install Python from source for up-history (readline) behavior to be enabled. I pretty much did this:

sudo apt-get install libncurses-dev libreadline-dev

After that, I deleted the previously installed Python (NOT THE SYSTEM PYTHON, the one I had installed from source!) and reinstalled it from source and everything worked as expected.

I did not have to install anything with pip or edit .pythonstartup.

By default use ALT+p for previous command, you can change to Up-Arrow instead in IDLE GUi >> OPtions >> Configure IDLE >>Key >>Custom Key Binding
It is not necesary to run a custom script, besides readlines module doesnt run in Windows.
Hope That Help. 🙂

On CentOS, I fix this by

yum install readline-devel

and then recompile python 3.4.

On OpenSUSE, I fix this by

pip3 install readline

Referring to this answer:
Perhaps “pip3 install readline” is a general solution. Haven’t tried on my CentOS.

I find information that I copied below answer the question

Adapt yourself to IDLE: Instead of hitting the up arrow to bring back a previous command, if you just put your cursor on the previous command you want to repeat and then press “enter”, that command will be repeated at the current command prompt. Press enter again, and the command gets executed.

Force IDLE to adapt itself to you: If you insist on making the arrow keys in the IDLE command prompt window work like those in every other command prompt, you can do this. Go to the “Options” menu, select “Configure IDLE”, and then “Keys”. Changing the key that is associated with the “previous command” and “next command” actions to be the up arrow, and down arrow, respectively.


In my mac os python3
you can use:
control+p early command
contrlo+n next command

go into options tab
configure idle

look under history-previous for the command, you can change it to something you like better once here.

You don’t need a custom script like pyfunc’s answer for OSX (at least on mavericks). In Idle click on Idle -> Preferences -> Keys, locate “history-next” and “history-previous”, and either leave them with their default keyboard shortcut or assign “up arrow” and “down arrow” per typical expected terminal behavior.

This is on Idle 2.7 on OSX Mavericks.

If you use Debian Jessie run this to fix your system installation 2.7.9

sudo apt-get install libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev

To fix my other 3.5.2 installation which I installed with pyenv :

pip install readline





Using arrow keys to go to the start of the command and hitting enter copies it as the current command.

Then just hit enter to run it again.

I don’t understand why there are so many long explanations about this. All you have to do is install the pyreadline package with:

pip install pyreadline

sudo  port install py-readline (on Mac)

(Assuming you have already installed PIP.)

Ipython isn’t allways the way… I like it pretty much, but if you try run Django shell with ipython. Something like>>>

ipython shell

it does’n work correctly if you use virtualenv. Django needs some special includes which aren’t there if you start ipython, because it starts default system python, but not that virtual.

This can happen when you run python vs just python to enter the interactive shell, among other reasons for readline being disabled.


import readline

Up Arrow works only in Python command line.

In IDLE (Python GUI) the defaults are:
Alt-p : retrieves previous command matching what you have typed.
Alt-n : retrieves next…
In Python 2.7.9 for example, you can see/change the Action Keys selecting:
Options -> Configure IDLE -> (Tab) Keys

For anaconda for python 3.5, I needed to install ncurses

conda install ncurses

After the ncurses install tab complete, history, and navigating via left and right arrows worked in the interactive shell.

On Mac with Python 2.x

? ~ brew install rlwrap

Start with rlwrap

? ~ rlwrap python

For repeating the last command in python, you can use <Alt + n> in windows

Up arrow works for me too.
And i don’t think you need to install the Readline module for python builtin commandline.
U should try Ipython to check.
Or maybe it’s the problem of your keybord map.

If using MacOSX, press control p to cycle up and control n to cycle down. I am using IDLE Python 3.4.1 Shell.

it is control + p in Mac os in python 3.4 IDEL

On Ubuntu 16.04, I had the same problem after upgrading Python from the preloaded 3.5 to version 3.7 from source code.
As @erewok suggested, I did

sudo apt-get install libncurses-dev libreadline-dev

followed by:
sudo make install
After that, the arrow-up key worked. Not sure which module is required to fix the problem or both, but without “make install”, none would work. During initial make, there were some red-flag errors, but ignored and completed the build. This time, there didn’t seem to have any errors.