python file handling

Python File Handling

In this tutorial, you will learn about python File Handling.

What is File?

File is a named location on disk to store related information. It is used to store data permanently in a non-volatile memory(hard disk).

While performing operation on file, first we need to open it. And after performing the operation it needs to be closed. So that resources that are tied with the file are freed.

So here Python File handling takes in following order:

  1. Opening a file.
  2. Performing operations(read, write etc.).
  3. Closing the file.

Opening a File

Before  performing the read/write operation, you first need to open the file.

Syntax of opening a file is:

f = open(filename, mode)

open()  function accepts two arguments filename and mode . filename is a string argument which specify filename along with it’s path  and mode is also a string argument which is used to specify how file will be used i.e for reading or writing. And f  is a file handler object also known as file pointer.

Eg:  f = open('MyTextFile.txt', 'w')

Closing a File

After finishing the file operation, you need to close the file so the resources allocated to file will be freed.

You can perform this using close() method. Below is the syntax:

f.close()  # where f is the pointer to the file

Different Modes of Opening a File

“r”  Open a file in read mode
“w”  Open a file in write mode. If file already exists its data will be cleared before opening. Otherwise new file will be created.
“a”  Opens a file in append mode i.e to write at the data to the end of the file.
“wb”  Open a file to write in binary mode.
“rb”  Open a file to read in binary mode.

Reading Keyboard Input

Python provides two built-in functions to read a line of text from standard input, which by default comes from the keyboard.

These functions are :

  • raw_input
  • input

The raw_input Function

The raw_input([prompt])  function reads one line from standard input and returns it as a string (removing the trailing newline).


[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”str%20%3D%20raw_input(%22Enter%20your%20input%3A%20%22)%3B%0Aprint%20%22Input%20is%20%3A%20%22%2C%20str%0A%0A%23%20Output%3A%0A%23%20Enter%20your%20input%3A%20Hello%20there%0A%23%20Input%20is%20%3A%20%20Hello%20there” message=”The raw_input() function in Python” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

The input Function

It is similar to raw_input function, except that it assumes the input is a valid Python expression and returns the evaluated result to you.


[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”str%20%3D%20input(%22Enter%20your%20input%3A%20%22)%0Aprint%20%22Input%20is%20%3A%20%22%2C%20str%0A%0A%23%20Output%3A%0A%23%20Enter%20your%20input%3A%20%5Bx*5%20for%20x%20in%20range(2%2C10%2C2)%5D%0A%23%20Input%20is%20%3A%20%20%5B10%2C%2020%2C%2030%2C%2040%5D%0A” message=”input function in python” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Reading data from the file

Python provides three methods to read data from the file :

read([number]) Return specified number of characters from the file. if omitted it will read the entire contents of the file.
readline() Return the next line of the file.
readlines() Read all the lines as a list of strings in the file

Reading whole data from the file at once

[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”f%20%3D%20open(‘myfirstfile.txt’%2C%20’r’)” message=”Reading whole data from a file” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Reading all lines as an array

[pastacode lang=”java” manual=”f%20%3D%20open(‘mytextfile.txt’%2C%20’r’)%0Af.readlines()%20%23%20read%20entire%20content%20of%20file%20at%20once%0Af.close()%0A%09%0A%23Out%20will%20be%20like%20%3E%5B%22this%20first%20line%5Cn%22%2C%20%22this%20second%20line%5Cn%22%5D” message=”Reading lines from file as an array” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Reading only one line from file

[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”f%20%3D%20open(‘myfile.txt’%2C%20’r’)%0Af.readline()%20%23%20read%20one%20of%20file%20%0Af.close()%0A%0A%23Output%20will%20like%20%3E%20%22this%20first%20line%5Cn%22″ message=”Reading only one line from file” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Writing data into the file

You will use write() function to write data into the file.

Note: write()  method will not insert new line (‘\n’) automatically like print function, you need to explicitly add '\n' while writing to file from write()  method.

[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”f%20%3D%20open(‘myfile.txt’%2C%20’w’)%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%23%20open%20file%20for%20writing%0Af.write(‘this%20is%20the%20first%20line%5Cn’)%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%23%20write%20a%20line%20to%20the%20file%0Af.write(‘this%20is%20the%20second%20line%5Cn’)%20%20%23%20write%20second%20line%20into%20the%20file%0Af.write(‘this%20is%20the%20third%20line%5Cn’)%20%20%20%20%23%20write%20third%20%20line%20into%20the%20file%0Af.close()%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%23%20close%20the%20file%0A%0A%23%20Output%20will%20be%20something%20like%3A%0A%23%20this%20is%20the%20first%20line%0A%23%20this%20is%20the%20second%20line%0A%23%20this%20is%20the%20third%20line” message=”Writing data into the file using write() method” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Appending data into the file in python

While appending the data into the file, you must use the append mode “a”.

[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”with%20open(%22test.txt%22%2C%20%22a%22)%20as%20myfile%3A%0A%20%20%20%20myfile.write(%22appended%20text%22)%0Amyfile.close()” message=”Appending data into file using with” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Binary reading and writing of File in Python

To perform binary read/write, you need to use a module called pickle. Pickle  module allows you to read and write data using load and dump method respectively.

Writing Binary Data

You will use dump() method of pickle module to write binary data and mode will be "wb".

[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”%3E%3E%20import%20pickle%0A%3E%3E%3E%20f%20%3D%20open(‘binaryfile.dat’%2C%20’wb’)%0A%3E%3E%3E%20pickle.dump(11%2C%20f)%0A%3E%3E%3E%20pickle.dump(%22this%20is%20a%20line%22%2C%20f)%0A%3E%3E%3E%20pickle.dump(%5B2%2C%204%2C%206%2C%208%5D%2C%20f)%0A%3E%3E%3E%20f.close()” message=”Writing into binary file using dump() method” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Reading Binary Data

You will use load() method of pickle module to read binary data and mode will be "rb".

[pastacode lang=”python” manual=”%3E%3E%20import%20pickle%0A%3E%3E%3E%20f%20%3D%20open(‘binaryfile.dat’%2C%20’rb’)%0A%3E%3E%3E%20pickle.load(f)%0A11%0A%3E%3E%3E%20pickle.load(f)%0A%22this%20is%20a%20line%22%0A%3E%3E%3E%20pickle.load(f)%0A%5B2%2C4%2C6%2C8%5D%0A%3E%3E%3E%20f.close()” message=”Reading data from file using load() method” highlight=”” provider=”manual”/]

Note: If there is no more data to read from file, pickle.load(f) will throw EOFError or end of file error.

File handling methods of Python OS module

The "os" module of Python provides various functions which are used to perform various operations on Files. To use these functions module "os" needs to be imported.

Method Description
rename() It is used to rename a file. It takes two arguments, existing_file_name and new_file_name.
remove() It is used to delete a file. It takes one argument. Pass the name of the file which is to be deleted as the argument of method.
mkdir() It is used to create a directory. A directory contains the files. It takes one argument which is the name of the directory.
chdir() It is used to change the current working directory. It takes one argument which is the name of the directory.
getcwd() It gives the current working directory.
rmdir() It is used to delete a directory. It takes one argument which is the name of the directory.
tell() It is used to get the exact position in the file.
  • rename():

import os  
  • remove():
import os  
  • mkdir():
import os  
os.mkdir("new directory")
  • chdir():
import os  
os.chdir("changed directory")
  • getcwd():
import os  
print os.getcwd()
  • rmdir():
import os  

Note: In order remove directory, it should be empty. If it is not then first delete the files in the directory.


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