Python Directory and Files Management

A directory is a collection of files and subdirectories. A directory inside a directory is known as a subdirectory.

Python has the os module that provides us with many useful methods to work with directories (and files as well).


Get Current Directory in Python

We can get the present working directory using the getcwd() method of the os module.

This method returns the current working directory in the form of a string. For example,

import os

print(os.getcwd())

# Output: C:\Program Files\PyScripter

Here, getcwd() returns the current directory in the form of a string.


Changing Directory in Python

In Python, we can change the current working directory by using the chdir() method.

The new path that we want to change into must be supplied as a string to this method. And we can use both the forward-slash / or the backward-slash \ to separate the path elements.

Let's see an example,

import os

# change directory
os.chdir('C:\\Python33')

print(os.getcwd())

Output: C:\Python33

Here, we have used the chdir() method to change the current working directory and passed a new path as a string to chdir().


List Directories and Files in Python

All files and sub-directories inside a directory can be retrieved using the listdir() method.

This method takes in a path and returns a list of subdirectories and files in that path.

If no path is specified, it returns the list of subdirectories and files from the current working directory.

import os

print(os.getcwd())
C:\Python33

# list all sub-directories
os.listdir()
['DLLs',
'Doc',
'include',
'Lib',
'libs',
'LICENSE.txt',
'NEWS.txt',
'python.exe',
'pythonw.exe',
'README.txt',
'Scripts',
'tcl',
'Tools']

os.listdir('G:\\')
['$RECYCLE.BIN',
'Movies',
'Music',
'Photos',
'Series',
'System Volume Information']

Making a New Directory in Python

In Python, we can make a new directory using the mkdir() method.

This method takes in the path of the new directory. If the full path is not specified, the new directory is created in the current working directory.

os.mkdir('test')

os.listdir()
['test']

Renaming a Directory or a File

The rename() method can rename a directory or a file.

For renaming any directory or file, rename() takes in two basic arguments:

  • the old name as the first argument
  • the new name as the second argument.

Let's see an example,

import os

os.listdir()
['test']

# rename a directory
os.rename('test','new_one')

os.listdir()
['new_one']

Here, 'test' directory is renamed to 'new_one' using the rename() method.


Removing Directory or File in Python

In Python, we can use the remove() method or the rmdir() method to remove a file or directory.

First let's use remove() to delete a file,

import os

# delete "myfile.txt" file
os.remove("myfile.txt")

Here, we have used the remove() method to remove the "myfile.txt" file.

Now let's use rmdir() to delete an empty directory,

import os

# delete the empty directory "mydir"
os.rmdir("mydir") 

In order to remove a non-empty directory, we can use the rmtree() method inside the shutil module. For example,

import shutil

# delete "mydir" directory and all of its contents
shutil.rmtree("mydir")

It's important to note that these functions permanently delete the files or directories, so we need to careful when using them.

Also Read:

Video: Python os Module

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