Python on Mac: "resource busy"

Huh. Can anyone explain why Python’s pyserial library fails to open /dev/, but works fine on /dev/cu.xxxx ? (yes, I’m sure that nothing else is using the tty…)

Python 3.6.5 |Anaconda, Inc.| (default, Apr 26 2018, 08:42:37)

[GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Clang 4.0.1 (tags/RELEASE_401/final)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import serial
>>> [color=green][b]con = serial.Serial("/dev/tty.usbmodem3221")[/b][/color]
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/Volumes/MacOS/HD-Users/BillW/anaconda3/lib/python3.6/site-packages/serial/", line 265, in open
    self.fd =, os.O_RDWR | os.O_NOCTTY | os.O_NONBLOCK)
OSError: [Errno 16] Resource busy: '/dev/tty.usbmodem3221'

During handling of the above exception, another exception occurred:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/Volumes/MacOS/HD-Users/BillW/anaconda3/lib/python3.6/site-packages/serial/", line 240, in __init__
  File "/Volumes/MacOS/HD-Users/BillW/anaconda3/lib/python3.6/site-packages/serial/", line 268, in open
    raise SerialException(msg.errno, "could not open port {}: {}".format(self._port, msg))

serial.serialutil.SerialException: [Errno 16] could not open port /dev/tty.usbmodem3221: [Errno 16] Resource busy: ‘/dev/tty.usbmodem3221’

>>>[color=green][b] con = serial.Serial("/dev/cu.usbmodem3221")[/b][/color]

>>> [color=green][b]print(con)[/b][/color]
Serial<id=0x105d3fef0, open=True>(port='/dev/cu.usbmodem3221', baudrate=9600, bytesize=8, parity='N', stopbits=1, timeout=None, xonxoff=False, rtscts=False, dsrdtr=False)

There are people who have had similar problems on stack overflow and similar, but no solutions (except for the cases where the tty WAS actually in use by something else.)