Copy files in Python

David Y.

The Problem

How do I copy files in Python?

The Solution

We can do this in a few different ways using Python’s built-in shutil library.

Using copyfile:

import shutil shutil.copyfile("source-directory/file.txt", "destination-directory/file.txt")

Note that we must specify the entire path in the second argument, including the filename. If the destination is not writable by the current OS user, an OSError exception will be raised. If the file already exists at the destination path, it will be overwritten.

We can also use copy:

import shutil shutil.copy("source-directory/file.txt", "destination-directory")

As long as destination-directory is an existing directory, copy will figure that we want to place our file inside destination-directory without changing its name. When copying a file this way, its permissions will be preserved, but other metadata, such as creation and modification times, will not. To preserve this metadata, we can use copy2 instead of copy:

import shutil shutil.copy2("source-directory/file.txt", "destination-directory")

To copy all files and subdirectories in a given directory, we can use copytree:

import shutil shutil.copytree("source-directory", "destination-directory")

Note that if destination-directory already exists, a FileExistsError exception will be raised. To prevent this, we can pass dirs_exist_ok=True to the function as a keyword argument – this will cause copytree to merge the source and destination directory trees and overwrite any files with matching names.

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