Installation and setup for Python with Miniconda


In the University computer lab you DO NOT have to install Anaconda or Miniconda or any other Python distribution. If you are attending the course in the University computer lab, please jump to Creating environments and install packages to create the working environment. This section only for general info if you want to install Python on your own computer, and for remote students.

How to start doing GIS with Python on a computer?

Well, first you need to install Python and necessary Python modules that are used to perform various GIS-tasks. The purpose of this page is to help you out installing Python and all those modules into your own computer. Even though it is possible to install Python from their homepage, we highly recommend using Miniconda or Anaconda which is an open source distribution of the Python and R programming languages for large-scale data processing, predictive analytics, and scientific computing, that aims to simplify package management and deployment. In short, it makes life much easier when installing new tools on your Python to play with.


Miniconda is an encapsulated versatile virtual python environment installer, that works under the hood of the big Anaconda python distribution. Miniconda is basically a mini version of Anaconda that includes only the conda package manager and its dependencies!

Following steps have been tested to work on Windows 7 and 10 with Anaconda/Miniconda 64 bit.

Download Miniconda installer (64 bit) a Python 3.7, 64-bit (exe installer) for Windows.


  • To install miniconda SYSTEM-WIDE for ALL users, this does require administrator permissions; every users can then create their own environments with the conda tool.

  • Please do NOT make Conda the default python for the system if you don’t want it to interfere with other Python installations you might have, eg. Pythons of ArcGIS and QGis etc

Install Miniconda on your computer by double clicking the installer and install it into a directory you want.

Install it to all users and use default settings.

Additional install information:

Verifying the installation


As a convention, whenever I demonstrate Python codes or using commands on the the shell/cmd commandline, using the # symbol implies a comment. This line, respectively everything after that symbol is NOT to be executed.

In order to test that the conda package manager works we have to go through a few more steps: After successful installation you should have a menu entry in the Windows Start Menu:

Anaconda Prompt

This is a Windows CMD (Commandline window, that “knows” about, where your Miniconda/Anaconda installation lies, and where to find the conda tool (without interfering other Python installations on your computer). After it opens it should display somehow like so:

(base) C:\Users\Alexander>


(C:\dev\conda3) C:\Users\Alexander>

On the command line type command conda --version in order to see if the command is successful, it should show the version of the conda tool.

(base) C:\Users\Alexander> conda --version
conda 4.8.3

Creating environments and install packages

It is important to understand, that you are always “residing” somewhere in some folder. This will in particular important to make sure that you find your scripts, notebooks and the working data, which ideally reside under the same directory hierarchy.

In order to be well organised throughout the course, please create a working folder/directory, where you will put your scripts and data files for the lab sessions and homeworks. On Windows you have your local user folder, typically C:\Users\Alexander. Open with the Windows File Explorer and create a new folder in this folder, with the name geopython2020.


Make sure you navigate explicitly into your correct working folder “geopython2020”. As we will always start or environment from the command line, here are two very simple practical steps to navigate on the commandline.

Open the Anaconda/conda command prompt from the Start menu, and type the commands shown below.

cd C:\Users\Alexander\geopython

You can see which files are inside this folder by using the dir command. (On Mac and Linux it is ls) and it will print information and files of your current folder.

cd C:\Users\Alexander\geopython2020


... output below

Volume in drive C is Windows
Volume Serial Number is 5E4C-FED5

Directory of C:\Users\Alexander\geopython2020

29.09.2020  15:00    <DIR>          .
29.09.2020  15:00    <DIR>          ..

conda basically represents a typical Python virtualenv command. You can create a several distinct environments, with different Python version, and with different packages to be installed. This will come in very handy to try out new libraries/packages/tools, without breaking you working installation. How to use the conda command?

We want to use a modern Python version 3.7. Here it becomes obvious how practical virtual environments can be. They help you to keep various Python versions around without messing up your system, and at the same time, keep several working environments with different, possibly conflicting versions of different Python packages.

There are two main ways of creating a conda environment.

The more professional/reproducible way is to use a so called environment.yml file. In the file the environment name, the package channels, Python version and all desired packages are declared. This way, you should be able to install the same environment in different computers, therfore improving the reliability of having the same packages etc installed. You can even go so far as to specify the exact package version.

Make sure you are using the correct folder on the University computers. In the Windows File Explorer, go via this PC, c:\Users to your account name folder.

Now, please download the prepared environment.yml file and save it to your newly created working folder.

To check, in the commandline window (Anaconda prompt) navigate to your working folder again and list the contents of the folder with dir:

(C:\dev\conda3) c:

(C:\dev\conda3) cd C:\Users\Alexander\geopython2020

(C:\dev\conda3) dir

... output below

Volume in drive C is Windows
Volume Serial Number is 5E4C-FED5

Directory of C:\Users\Alexander\geopython2020

29.10.2020  15:00    <DIR>          .
29.10.2020  15:00    <DIR>          ..
29.10.2020  08:51 AM            693 environment.yml

You should see the newly downloaded file in your folder. Now let’s install the enviroment with conda:

(C:\dev\conda3) conda env create -f environment.yml

This will take some time.

In the next steps we will verify the installation and test that everything works in our new geopy2020 conda Python environment and configure Jupyter Notebooks.