How do I run a python script from within the IDLE interactive shell?

The following throws an error:

>>> python
SyntaxError: invalid syntax



If your file not in the same dir:


See for passing global/local variables.

In deprecated Python versions

Built-in function: execfile


It normally cannot be called with arguments. But here’s a workaround:

import sys
sys.argv = ['', 'arg']  # argv[0] should still be the script name

Deprecated since 2.6: popen

import os
os.popen('python') # Just run the program
os.popen('python').read() # Also gets you the stdout

With arguments:

os.popen('python arg').read()

Advance usage: subprocess

import subprocess['python', '']) # Just run the program
subprocess.check_output(['python', '']) # Also gets you the stdout

With arguments:['python', '', 'arg'])

Read the docs for details 🙂

Tested with this basic

import sys
if len(sys.argv) > 1:

You can use this in python3:


The IDLE shell window is not the same as a terminal shell (e.g. running sh or bash). Rather, it is just like being in the Python interactive interpreter (python -i). The easiest way to run a script in IDLE is to use the Open command from the File menu (this may vary a bit depending on which platform you are running) to load your script file into an IDLE editor window and then use the Run -> Run Module command (shortcut F5).


python -i  #Python 2

python3 -i #Python 3

Try this

import os
import subprocess

DIR = os.path.join('C:\\', 'Users', 'Sergey', 'Desktop', '')['python', DIR])

execFile('') does the job for me. A thing to note is to enter the complete directory name of the .py file if it isnt in the Python folder itself (atleast this is the case on Windows)

For example, execFile('C:/')

In a python console, one can try the following 2 ways.

under the same work directory,

>> import helloworld

# if you have a variable x, you can print it in the IDLE.

>> helloworld.x

# if you have a function func, you can also call it like this.

>> helloworld.func()

>> runfile(“./”)

For example:

import subprocess"C:\")["python", "-h"])

In Python 3, there is no execFile. One can use exec built-in function, for instance:

import helloworld

In IDLE, the following works :-

import helloworld

I don’t know much about why it works, but it does..

To run a python script in a python shell such as Idle or in a Django shell you can do the following using the exec() function. Exec() executes a code object argument. A code object in Python is simply compiled Python code. So you must first compile your script file and then execute it using exec(). From your shell:

>>>file_to_compile = open('/path/to/your/').read()
>>>code_object = compile(file_to_compile, '<string>', 'exec')

I’m using Python 3.4. See the compile and exec docs for detailed info.

I tested this and it kinda works out :

exec(open('filename').read())  # Don't forget to put the filename between ' '

you can do it by two ways

  • import file_name

  • exec(open('file_name').read())

but make sure that file should be stored where your program is running

On Windows environment, you can execute py file on Python3 shell command line with the following syntax:

exec(open(‘absolute path to file_name’).read())

Below explains how to execute a simple file from python shell command line

File Location: C:/Users/testuser/testfolder/

File Content: print(“hello world”)

We can execute this file on Python3.7 Shell as below:

>>> import os
>>> abs_path="C://Users/testuser/testfolder"
>>> os.chdir(abs_path)
>>> os.getcwd()

>>> exec(open("").read())
hello world

>>> exec(open("C:\\Users\\testuser\\testfolder\\").read())
hello world

>>> os.path.abspath("")
>>> import helloworld
hello world

There is one more alternative (for windows) –

    import os
    os.system('py "<path of program with extension>"')