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Delete a directory or file using Python

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  • Difficulty Level : Medium
  • Last Updated : 26 Oct, 2022
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In this article, we will cover how to delete (remove) files and directories in Python. Python provides different methods and functions for removing files and directories. One can remove the file according to their need. 

Various methods provided by Python are –

Deleting file/dir using the os.remove() method

OS module in Python provides functions for interacting with the operating system. All functions in the os module raise OSError in the case of invalid or inaccessible file names and paths, or other arguments that have the correct type but are not accepted by the operating system. 

os.remove() method in Python is used to remove or delete a file path. This method can not remove or delete a directory. If the specified path is a directory then OSError will be raised by the method.

Syntax of os.remove()

Syntax: os.remove(path, *, dir_fd = None) 

Parameter: path: A path-like object representing a file path. A path-like object is either a string or bytes object representing a path. 

  • dir_fd (optional): A file descriptor referring to a directory. The default value of this parameter is None. If the specified path is absolute then dir_fd is ignored. 

Note: The ‘*’ in parameter list indicates that all following parameters (Here in our case ‘dir_fd’) are keyword-only parameters and they can be provided using their name, not as positional parameter. 

Return Type: This method does not return any value.

Example 1: Delete a File in Python

Suppose the file contained in the folder are: 

 

We want to delete file1 from the above folder. Below is the implementation. 

Python3




# Python program to explain os.remove() method
 
# importing os module
import os
 
# File name
file = 'file1.txt'
 
# File location
location = "D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/Authors/Nikhil/"
 
# Path
path = os.path.join(location, file)
 
# Remove the file
# 'file.txt'
os.remove(path)

Output: 

 

Example 2: Remove file with absolute path

If the specified path is a directory. 

Python3




# Python program to explain os.remove() method
 
# importing os module
import os
 
# Directory name
dir = "Nikhil"
 
# Path
location = "D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/Authors/"
path = os.path.join(location, dir)
 
# Remove the specified
# file path
os.remove(path)
print("% s has been removed successfully" % dir)
 
# if the specified path
# is a directory then
# 'IsADirectoryError' error
# will raised
 
# Similarly if the specified
# file path does not exists or
# is invalid then corresponding
# OSError will be raised

Output:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "osremove.py", line 11, in 
    os.remove(path)
IsADirectoryError: [Errno 21] Is a directory: 'D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/Authors/Nikhil'

Example 3: Check if File Exists Before Deleting

Handling error while using os.remove() method.

Python3




# Python program to explain os.remove() method
 
# importing os module
import os
 
# path
path = 'D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/Authors/Nikhil'
 
# Remove the specified
# file path
try:
    os.remove(path)
    print("% s removed successfully" % path)
except OSError as error:
    print(error)
    print("File path can not be removed")

Output:

[Errno 21] Is a directory: 'D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/Authors/Nikhil'
File path can not be removed

Note: To know more about os.remove() click here.

Deleting file/dir using the os.rmdir() method

os.rmdir() method in Python is used to remove or delete an empty directory. OSError will be raised if the specified path is not an empty directory.

Syntax of os.rmdir()

Syntax: os.rmdir(path, *, dir_fd = None) 

Parameter: 

  • path: A path-like object representing a file path. A path-like object is either a string or bytes object representing a path. 
  • dir_fd (optional): A file descriptor referring to a directory. The default value of this parameter is None. If the specified path is absolute then dir_fd is ignored. 

Note: The ‘*’ in parameter list indicates that all following parameters (Here in our case ‘dir_fd’) are keyword-only parameters and they can be provided using their name, not as positional parameter. 

Return Type: This method does not return any value.

Example 1: Delete all directories from a Directory

Suppose the directories are – 

 

We want to remove the directory Geeks. Below is the implementation. 

Python3




# importing os module
import os
 
# Directory name
directory = "Geeks"
 
# Parent Directory
parent = "D:/Pycharm projects/"
 
# Path
path = os.path.join(parent, directory)
 
# Remove the Directory
# "Geeks"
os.rmdir(path)

Output: 

 

Example 2: Error Handling while deleting a directory

Handling errors while using os.rmdir() method, 

Python3




# Python program to explain os.rmdir() method
 
# importing os module
import os
 
# Directory name
directory = "GeeksforGeeks"
 
# Parent Directory
parent = "D:/Pycharm projects/"
 
# Path
path = os.path.join(parent, directory)
 
# Remove the Directory
# "GeeksforGeeks"
try:
    os.rmdir(path)
    print("Directory '% s' has been removed successfully" % directory)
except OSError as error:
    print(error)
    print("Directory '% s' can not be removed" % directory)
 
# if the specified path
# is not an empty directory
# then permission error will
# be raised
 
# similarly if specified path
# is invalid or is not a
# directory then corresponding
# OSError will be raised

Output:

[WinError 145] The directory is not empty: 'D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks'
Directory 'GeeksforGeeks' can not be removed

Note: To know more about os.rmdir() click here.

Deleting file/dir using the shutil.rmtree()

shutil.rmtree() is used to delete an entire directory tree, a path must point to a directory (but not a symbolic link to a directory).

Syntax of shutil.rmtree()

Syntax: shutil.rmtree(path, ignore_errors=False, onerror=None) 

Parameters: 

  • path: A path-like object representing a file path. A path-like object is either a string or bytes object representing a path. 
  • ignore_errors: If ignore_errors is true, errors resulting from failed removals will be ignored. 
  • onerror: If ignore_errors is false or omitted, such errors are handled by calling a handler specified by onerror.

Delete a directory and the files contained in it.

Example 1: 

Suppose the directory and sub-directories are as follow.

 # Parent directory: 

 

 # Directory inside parent directory: 

 

# File inside the sub-directory: 

 

Example: Delete all Files from a Directory

We want to remove the directory Authors. Below is the implementation. 

Python3




# Python program to demonstrate
# shutil.rmtree()
 
import shutil
import os
 
# location
location = "D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/"
 
# directory
dir = "Authors"
 
# path
path = os.path.join(location, dir)
 
# removing directory
shutil.rmtree(path)

Output: 

 

Example 2: Ignore error while deleting a directory

By passing ignore_errors = True. 

Python3




# Python program to demonstrate
# shutil.rmtree()
 
import shutil
import os
 
# location
location = "D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/"
 
# directory
dir = "Authors"
 
# path
path = os.path.join(location, dir)
 
# removing directory
shutil.rmtree(path, ignore_errors=False)
 
# making ignore_errors = True will not raise
# a FileNotFoundError

Output:

Traceback (most recent call last): File “D:/Pycharm projects/gfg/gfg.py”, line 16, in shutil.rmtree(path, ignore_errors=False) File “C:\Users\Nikhil Aggarwal\AppData\Local\Programs\Python\Python38-32\lib\shutil.py”, line 730, in rmtree return _rmtree_unsafe(path, onerror) File “C:\Users\Nikhil Aggarwal\AppData\Local\Programs\Python\Python38-32\lib\shutil.py”, line 589, in _rmtree_unsafe onerror(os.scandir, path, sys.exc_info()) File “C:\Users\Nikhil Aggarwal\AppData\Local\Programs\Python\Python38-32\lib\shutil.py”, line 586, in _rmtree_unsafe with os.scandir(path) as scandir_it: FileNotFoundError: [WinError 3] The system cannot find the path specified: ‘D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/Authors’

Example 3: Exception handler

In onerror a function should be passed which must contain three parameters.

  • function – function which raised the exception.
  • path – path name passed which raised the exception while removal
  • excinfo – exception info raised by sys.exc_info()

Below is the implementation 

Python3




# Python program to demonstrate
# shutil.rmtree()
 
import shutil
import os
 
 
# exception handler
def handler(func, path, exc_info):
    print("Inside handler")
    print(exc_info)
 
 
# location
location = "D:/Pycharm projects/GeeksforGeeks/"
 
# directory
dir = "Authors"
 
# path
path = os.path.join(location, dir)
 
# removing directory
shutil.rmtree(path, onerror=handler)

Output:

Inside handler (, FileNotFoundError(2, ‘The system cannot find the path specified’), ) Inside handler (, FileNotFoundError(2, ‘The system cannot find the file specified’), )

Deleting file/dir using the pathlib.Path(empty_dir_path).rmdir()

An empty directory can also be removed or deleted using the pathlib module’s rmdir() method. First, we have to set the path for the directory, and then we call the rmdir() method on that path

Syntax of pathlib.Path

Syntax: pathlib.Path(empty_dir_path).rmdir()

Parameter: 

  • empty_dir_path: A path-like object representing a empty directory path. A path-like object is either a string or bytes object representing a path. 

Return Type: This method does not return any value.

Example: Delete an Empty Directory using rmdir()

In this example, we will delete an empty folder, we just need to specify the folder name if it is in the root Directory

Python3




import pathlib
 
# Deleting an empty folder
# Put your file address
empty_dir = r"Untitled Folder"
path = pathlib.Path(empty_dir).rmdir()
print("Deleted '%s' successfully" % empty_dir)

Output:

Deleted 'Untitled Folder' successfully

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