Setting Up Your Go Development Environment

In this mini-article, we’ll see how we can set up our Go development environment. Installing and configuring Go on your system is pretty streamlined.

Hi Gopher 👋

In this mini-article, we’ll see how we can set up our Go development environment.

Installing and configuring Go on your system is pretty streamlined. Once you follow the instructions here, you’ll be up and running in no time.

See It in Action
Here’s a video about setting up Go development environment a Mac.

Download the go Binary

First, head over to the official Go downloads page. Then, find a suitable download for your operating system.


Go can be installed on Apple macOS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. It’s unlikely, but if you cannot find a suitable installer, you can follow the instructions to build it from the source, too.

Install Go

Once you have the binary, follow the installation instructions below that are relevant to your operating system:

Set Your GOPATH Environment Variable

It is also customary to set a default Go workspace by setting your GOPATH environment variable.

For Mac OS and Linux, you can do that by editing your ~/.profile file as follows:

vim ~/.profile
# or /etc/profile (for a system-wide installation).

# Add the following line to the end of your $HOME/.profile file.
# If you don’t have such a file, create one.
export GOPATH=$HOME/go

For Windows, the steps to create an environment variable is slightly different:

  • Right-click the Computer icon and choose Properties.
  • Choose Advanced system settings.
  • On the Advanced tab, click Environment Variables.
  • Click New to create a new environment variable.

Hello, Go World

Are you all set? Have you configured your go binary and your GOPATH environment variable?—Let’s test our installations by writing a sample Go program.

First, we’ll create a test project folder and an empty main.go file:

# Declare a $GOPATH workspace directory first.
export $GOPATH=~/Documents/PROJECTS/go

# Go organizes source code by "Project"s.
# Each project is a separate folder under '$GOPATH/src'.
# Let’s create a 'go-test' project folder for our sample project.
mkdir -p $GOPATH/src/go-test

# Now switch to our project folder and create a blank file there.
cd $GOPATH/src/go-test
touch main.go

Next, we’ll create a small program that prints a message on the console and exits:

// $GOPATH/src/go-test/main.go

package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
	fmt.Println("\ Always be curious.\n")


After the introduction of Go Modules, it’s not strictly necessary to maintain your projects under '$GOPATH/src'; however, it’s still considered a good practice to do so.

Now, let’s run our program by entering the following in the terminal:

go run main.go

If everything is set up correctly, you will receive the following output in the terminal: Always be curious.

Choosing a Go IDE

After setting up a development environment, you can write your Go code comfortably in any text editor.

My favorite editors that I code Go are as follows:

  • Vim: Also, its cousin Mac vim for working on relatively small projects and utility scripts.
  • Sublime Text: Sublime is the WinRar of editors (if you know what I mean). I use Sublime to edit and develop almost anything quickly.
  • JetBrains GoLand: GoLand is an absolute power-hose. It is my go-to tool for developing any large-scale Go project.

Note that the above list is by no means conclusive. You can comfortably program go in almost any modern editor. And Go being a popular and widespread programming language, it’s highly likely that your favorite code editor either has builtin support for Go. Either that or your editor enables Go support with additional plugins.

Feel free to pick any editor that you feel comfortable with.

Patience, Young Padawan

It might sound counter-intuitive, but I do not recommend GoLand if you are just starting to learn Go.

If you are beginning your Go journey, a lighter editor (such as vim) will be much helpful during your initial getting-used-to phase.

Once you are comfortable with the language and learned how things tie together, you can give GoLand a go.

Bye, Gopher 👋

In this article, we’ve seen how to set up a Go development environment, configure our Go working directory, and looked into some options to pick from as a Go development environment.

I hope it was informative.

Until the next article… May the source be with you 🦄.

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