1. JupyterLab

A Jupyter notebook is a browser-based interface where you can write, run, remix and republish code.

It is free software that anyone can install and run. It is used by scientists, scholars, investors and corporations to create and share their research.

It is also used by journalists to develop stories and show their work. Examples published by past students and teachers of this class include:

You can find hundreds of other examples on GitHub, including notebooks published by Buzzfeed, ProPublica, The Economist, POLITICO, The Markup and the Los Angeles Times.

There are numerous ways to install and configure Jupyter notebooks. Since this tutorial is designed for beginners, it will demonstrate how to use JupyterLab Desktop, a self-contained application that provides a ready-to-use Python environment with several popular libraries bundled in. It can be installed on any operating system with a simple point-and-click interface.


Advanced users like to have more control over when and where code is installed on their system. Readers interested in the techniques preferred by the pros should consult our appendix. It requires use of your computer’s command-line interface.

1.1. Install JupyterLab Desktop

The first step is to visit JupyterLab Desktop’s homepage on GitHub in your web browser.

Jupterlab Desktop homepage

Scroll down to the documentation below the code until you reach the Installation section.

jupyterlab desktop download

Then pick the link appropriate for your operating system. The installation file is large so the download might take a while.

Find the file in your downloads directory and double click it to begin the installation process. Follow the instructions presented by the pop-up windows, sticking to the default options.


Your computer’s operating system might flag the JupyterLab Desktop installer as an unverified or insecure application. Don’t worry. The tool has been vetted by Project Jupyter’s core developers and it’s safe to use.

If your system is blocking you from installing the tool, you’ll likely need to work around its barriers. For instance, on MacOS, this might require visiting your system’s security settings to allow the installation.

1.2. Open a Python 3 notebook

Once the program is installed, you can accept the installation wizard’s offer to immediately open the program, or you can search for “Jupyter Lab” in your operating system’s application finder.

That will open up a new window that looks something like this:

jupyterlab desktop splash screen


If you see a warning bar at the bottom of the screen that says you need to install Python, click the link provided to make that happen.

Click the “New notebook…” button to open the Python interface.

jupyterlab new notebook

Welcome to your first Jupyter notebook. Now you’re ready to move on to our next chapter and start writing code.