You may need to install tkinter separately if it’s gone.

Recently I started working on some small Python GUI programs. Last year on an Intel Mac I found tkinter was not good as it had some issues with Japanese input method so I gave up. It’s been more than a year and I have a M1 (arm) Mac so there might be some improvements with tkinter. Upgrading Python3 (and all programs) by brew was the first step I tried, then tkinter module was unable to be loaded any longer…

You always better read install log which gives you necessary info.

I didn’t really pay attention to the brew log when upgraded Python from 3.9.1 to 3.9.6 as it was successful and must be a minor update… Soon after the upgrade my Python scripts that import tkinter in a pipenv shell started giving me error “No module named '_tkinter'“. Lots of trials and errors referring to several web pages, tech threads, etc. didn’t help. Tried setting up pipenv from scratch, installed tcl-tk by brew, added PATH and some other tcl-tk variables to .zshrc to no avail. I finally decided to give up and went to bed – worst case scenario I need to uninstall and install all Python related things including brew… On the day-2, I was calmer than last night and started identifying the scope of the problem – ok, tkinter cannot be found even out of my pipenv. It’s really gone from macOS Big Sur at some point. Reviewed steps taken on the day-1 and it didn’t take much time to find the below:

% brew info python3
python@3.9: stable 3.9.6 (bottled)
Interpreted, interactive, object-oriented programming language
tkinter is no longer included with this formula, but it is available separately:
  brew install python-tk@3.9

Aha! If I read the brew install log once completed, I didn’t need to waste 6 hours and would have a sweet dream. Anyways, if your tkinter is gone after upgrading Python by brew, just execute another command brew install python-tk@3.9 and install it as well. My scripts finally open tkinter GUI windows with no error.

Most of Python documents or webpages suggest you to try tkinter for GUI development as it’s installed by default, but it’s not true anymore especially for those of you who install Python by brew on Mac.

Example of the error in my case

% python3 -m tkinter
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.9/3.9.6/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/lib/python3.9/", line 188, in _run_module_as_main
mod_name, mod_spec, code = _get_module_details(mod_name, _Error)
File "/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.9/3.9.6/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/lib/python3.9/", line 147, in _get_module_details
return _get_module_details(pkg_main_name, error)
File "/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.9/3.9.6/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/lib/python3.9/", line 111, in _get_module_details
File "/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.9/3.9.6/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.9/lib/python3.9/tkinter/", line 37, in
import _tkinter # If this fails your Python may not be configured for Tk
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named '_tkinter'