How to find the real user home directory using python?


I see that if we change the HOME (linux) or USERPROFILE (windows) environmental variable and run a python script, it returns the new value as the user home when I try


Is there any way to find the real user home directory without relying on the environmental variable?

Here is a way to find userhome in windows by reading in the registry,

One way to find windows home using pywin32,

from import shell,shellcon
home = shell.SHGetFolderPath(0, shellcon.CSIDL_PROFILE, None, 0)
Asked By: asdfg



On Linux and other UNIXoids you can always take a peek in /etc/passwd. The home directory is the sixth colon-separated field in there. No idea on how to do better than the environment variable on Windows though. There’ll be a system call for it, but if it’s available from Python, …

Answered By: Jakob Borg

Really, a change in environment variable indicates that the home must be changed. So every program/script should have the new home in context; also the consequences are up to the person who changed it.
I would still stick with
home = os.getenv('USERPROFILE') or os.getenv('HOME')

what exactly is required?

Answered By: ring bearer

I think os.path.expanduser(path) could be helpful.

On Unix and Windows, return the argument with an initial component of ~ or ~user replaced by that user‘s home directory.

On Unix, an initial ~ is replaced by the environment variable HOME if it is set; otherwise the current user’s home directory is looked up in the password directory through the built-in module pwd. An initial ~user is looked up directly in the password directory.

On Windows, HOME and USERPROFILE will be used if set, otherwise a combination of HOMEPATH and HOMEDRIVE will be used. An initial ~user is handled by stripping the last directory component from the created user path derived above.

If the expansion fails or if the path does not begin with a tilde, the path is returned unchanged.

So you could just do:

Answered By: Felix Kling

I think os.path.expanduser(path) is the best answer to your question, but there’s an alternative that may be worth mentioning in the Unix world: the pwd package. e.g.

import os, pwd

Answered By: Brian M. Hunt

home_folder = os.getenv('HOME')

This should work on Windows and Mac OS too, works well on Linux.

Answered By: user250145

For windows;

import os
homepath = os.path.expanduser(os.getenv('USERPROFILE'))

will give you a handle to current user’s home directory and

filepath = os.path.expanduser(os.getenv('USERPROFILE'))+'\Documents\myfile.txt'

will give you a handle to below file;

Answered By: khawarizmi
from pathlib import Path


works in Python 3.5 and above. Path.home() returns a Path object providing an API I find very useful.

Answered By: Julius Kunze

I realize that this is an old question that has been answered but I thought I would add my two cents. The accepted answer was not working for me. I needed to find the user directory and I wanted it to work with and without sudo. In Linux, my user directory is “/home/someuser” but my root directory is “/root/”. However, on my Mac, the user directory is “/Users/someuser”. Here is what I ended up doing:

_USERNAME = os.getenv("SUDO_USER") or os.getenv("USER") 
_HOME = os.path.expanduser('~'+_USERNAME)

This worked both with and without sudo on Mac and Linux.

Answered By: Julien Spronck

get (translated) user folder names on Linux:

from gi.repository import GLib

docs = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_DOCUMENTS)
desktop = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_DESKTOP)
pics = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_PICTURES)
videos = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_VIDEOS)
music = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_MUSIC)
downloads = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_DOWNLOAD)
public = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_PUBLIC_SHARE)
templates = GLib.get_user_special_dir(GLib.USER_DIRECTORY_TEMPLATES)

Answered By: Axel Schneider