List files in a directory using Python

David Y.

The Problem

How can I create a list of the files in a directory using Python?

The Solution

Python’s built-in os module provides a powerful function for file system traversal called os.walk(). This function returns a generator iterator that can be used in a for loop to methodically traverse a file system tree, starting at a given path. For each level of the tree, os.walk() will return a three-value tuple containing:

  • The name of the current directory.
  • A list of subdirectory names in the current directory.
  • A list of file names in the current directory.

We can use this method to build a list of the file names in a given directory, as in the code below. If we only want the files inside the top directory, we can break out of the for loop after the first iteration. Otherwise, we can let it keep going to get a list of all files in all subdirectories.

import os my_path = "/home/alice/work-files" file_list = [] for (directory, subdirectories, files) in os.walk(my_path): file_list.extend(files) break # remove this line to include files inside subdirectories
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