Working with files, directories, and system commands

In Python, working with files, directories, and system commands is essential for many applications. Whether you need to read and write files, manipulate directories, or execute system commands, Python provides a convenient and powerful set of tools to accomplish these tasks. In this article, we will explore various techniques and libraries available in Python for working with files, directories, and executing system commands.

File Operations

Python offers several methods and libraries to handle file operations efficiently.

Opening and Closing Files

To open a file in Python, you can use the built-in open() function. This function takes two arguments: the file name and the mode in which to open the file. The mode can be "r" for reading, "w" for writing, or "a" for appending. Once you have finished processing the file, it's good practice to close it using the close() method.

# Open a file
file = open("example.txt", "r")

# Process the file

# Close the file

Reading Files

To read the contents of a file, you can use the read() method. This method reads the entire file as a string. Alternatively, you can use the readline() method to read one line at a time or readlines() to read all the lines as elements of a list.

# Read the entire file
content =

# Read one line
line = file.readline()

# Read all lines
lines = file.readlines()

Writing to Files

To write to a file, you can use the write() method. This method takes a string as an argument and writes it to the file. If you want to write multiple lines, you can use the writelines() method, which takes an iterable containing the lines to be written.

# Write a string to a file
file.write("Hello, world!")

# Write multiple lines
lines = ["Line 1\n", "Line 2\n", "Line 3\n"]

Working with Directories

Python provides the os module to handle directory-related operations. Some commonly used functions include:

  • os.mkdir() to create a new directory
  • os.chdir() to change the current working directory
  • os.getcwd() to get the current working directory
  • os.listdir() to list the contents of a directory
  • os.rmdir() to remove an empty directory
import os

# Create a new directory

# Change the current working directory

# Get the current working directory
current_dir = os.getcwd()

# List the contents of a directory
contents = os.listdir()

# Remove a directory

Executing System Commands

Python allows you to execute system commands using the subprocess module. The subprocess module provides the run() function, which allows you to run system commands and retrieve their output.

import subprocess

# Run a system command
result =["ls", "-l"], capture_output=True, text=True)

# Retrieve the command output
output = result.stdout

# Print the output


Python offers a variety of methods and libraries to handle files, directories, and execute system commands. Understanding these tools is crucial for efficiently working with file input/output, managing directories, and integrating Python with the underlying operating system. By mastering these capabilities, you can develop powerful applications that automate file operations and interact with system resources seamlessly.

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