My posts on installing Python on Mac OS X seem to be the most popular things I’ve posted so I thought I should gather them in one place. Here are some of your options (by no means all of them), listed from most basic to most advanced.
There are multiple packaged installers for scientific Python including EPD Free from Enthought and Anaconda from Continuum Analytics. Of those two I prefer the Anaconda installation because it contains more packages and because it installs into a single directory in your home folder.
To get started download and run the Mac OS X installer from continuum.io/downloads.html. The installer will automatically configure your system to use the Anaconda Python.
Open a new terminal once that’s complete. Typing
which python should show the one in
anaconda/bin. If you need additional Python packages not included with Anaconda they can probably be installed using pip, which comes with Anaconda.
I expect Anaconda should meet the needs of most people. I’d recommend going the route of compiling everything from source only if you expect to need to install things like development versions of software, especially using virtualenv (and virtualenvwrapper, of course).
See my post Install Scientific Python on Mac OS X for instructions on installing Python and the scientific Python stack from source. This is how I install Python on my Mac.