Most pythonic way to delete a file which may not exist


I want to delete the file filename if it exists. Is it proper to say

if os.path.exists(filename):

Is there a better way? A one-line way?

Asked By: Scott C Wilson



os.path.exists returns True for folders as well as files. Consider using os.path.isfile to check for whether the file exists instead.

Answered By: abought

A more pythonic way would be:

except OSError:

Although this takes even more lines and looks very ugly, it avoids the unnecessary call to os.path.exists() and follows the python convention of overusing exceptions.

It may be worthwhile to write a function to do this for you:

import os, errno

def silentremove(filename):
    except OSError as e: # this would be "except OSError, e:" before Python 2.6
        if e.errno != errno.ENOENT: # errno.ENOENT = no such file or directory
            raise # re-raise exception if a different error occurred
Answered By: Matt

Something like this? Takes advantage of short-circuit evaluation. If the file does not exist, the whole conditional cannot be true, so python will not bother evaluation the second part.

os.path.exists("gogogo.php") and os.remove("gogogo.php")
Answered By: Andy Jones

In the spirit of Andy Jones’ answer, how about an authentic ternary operation:

os.remove(fn) if os.path.exists(fn) else None
Answered By: Tim Keating

Another way to know if the file (or files) exists, and to remove it, is using the module glob.

from glob import glob
import os

for filename in glob("*.csv"):

Glob finds all the files that could select the pattern with a *nix wildcard, and loops the list.

Answered By: jotacor

I prefer to suppress an exception rather than checking for the file’s existence, to avoid a TOCTTOU bug. Matt’s answer is a good example of this, but we can simplify it slightly under Python 3, using contextlib.suppress():

import contextlib

with contextlib.suppress(FileNotFoundError):

If filename is a pathlib.Path object instead of a string, we can call its .unlink() method instead of using os.remove(). In my experience, Path objects are more useful than strings for filesystem manipulation.

Since everything in this answer is exclusive to Python 3, it provides yet another reason to upgrade.

Answered By: Kevin
if os.path.exists(filename): os.remove(filename)

is a one-liner.

Many of you may disagree – possibly for reasons like considering the proposed use of ternaries “ugly” – but this begs the question of whether we should listen to people used to ugly standards when they call something non-standard “ugly”.

Answered By: DevonMcC

Matt’s answer is the right one for older Pythons and Kevin’s the right answer for newer ones.

If you wish not to copy the function for silentremove, this functionality is exposed in as remove_p:

from path import Path
Answered By: Jason R. Coombs

In Python 3.4 or later version, the pythonic way would be:

import os
from contextlib import suppress

with suppress(OSError):
Answered By: Ross Castroverde

A KISS offering:

def remove_if_exists(filename):
  if os.path.exists(filename):

And then:

Answered By: Baz

This is another solution:

if os.path.isfile(os.path.join(path, filename)):
    os.remove(os.path.join(path, filename))
Answered By: Kian

As of Python 3.8, use missing_ok=True and pathlib.Path.unlink (docs here)

from pathlib import Path

my_file = Path("./dir1/dir2/file.txt")

# Python 3.8+

# Python 3.7 and earlier
if my_file.exists():
Answered By: wkeithvan

Since Python 3.3 you can use FileNotFoundError which is more correct than the accepted version since it doesn’t ignore other possible errors.

except FileNotFoundError:
Answered By: Paul
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