open() in Python does not create a file if it doesn't exist


What is the best way to open a file as read/write if it exists, or if it does not, then create it and open it as read/write? From what I read, file = open('myfile.dat', 'rw') should do this, right?

It is not working for me (Python 2.6.2) and I’m wondering if it is a version problem, or not supposed to work like that or what.

The bottom line is, I just need a solution for the problem. I am curious about the other stuff, but all I need is a nice way to do the opening part.

The enclosing directory was writeable by user and group, not other (I’m on a Linux system… so permissions 775 in other words), and the exact error was:

IOError: no such file or directory.

Asked By: trh178



open('myfile.dat', 'a') works for me, just fine.

in py3k your code raises ValueError:

>>> open('myfile.dat', 'rw')
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<pyshell#34>", line 1, in <module>
    open('myfile.dat', 'rw')
ValueError: must have exactly one of read/write/append mode

in python-2.6 it raises IOError.

Answered By: SilentGhost

Change “rw” to “w+”

Or use ‘a+’ for appending (not erasing existing content)

Answered By: baloo

You should use open with the w+ mode:

file = open('myfile.dat', 'w+')
Answered By: muksie
>>> import os
>>> if os.path.exists("myfile.dat"):
...     f = file("myfile.dat", "r+")
... else:
...     f = file("myfile.dat", "w")

r+ means read/write

Answered By: Khorkrak

What do you want to do with file? Only writing to it or both read and write?

'w', 'a' will allow write and will create the file if it doesn’t exist.

If you need to read from a file, the file has to be exist before open it. You can test its existence before opening it or use a try/except.

Answered By: user49117

The advantage of the following approach is that the file is properly closed at the block’s end, even if an exception is raised on the way. It’s equivalent to try-finally, but much shorter.

with open("file.dat","a+") as f:

a+ Opens a file for both appending and reading. The file pointer is
at the end of the file if the file exists. The file opens in the
append mode. If the file does not exist, it creates a new file for
reading and writing. –Python file modes

seek() method sets the file’s current position. [, (0|1|2)])
pos .. position of the r/w pointer
[] .. optionally
() .. one of ->
  0 .. absolute position
  1 .. relative position to current
  2 .. relative position from end

Only “rwab+” characters are allowed; there must be exactly one of “rwa” – see Stack Overflow question Python file modes detail.

Answered By: Qwerty

I think it’s r+, not rw. I’m just a starter, and that’s what I’ve seen in the documentation.

Answered By: Angel Poppy

My answer:

file_path = 'myfile.dat'
    fp = open(file_path)
except IOError:
    # If not exists, create the file
    fp = open(file_path, 'w+')
Answered By: Chien-Wei Huang


import os

f_loc = r"C:UsersRussellDesktopmyfile.dat"

# Create the file if it does not exist
if not os.path.exists(f_loc):
    open(f_loc, 'w').close()

# Open the file for appending and reading
with open(f_loc, 'a+') as f:
    #Do stuff

Note: Files have to be closed after you open them, and the with context manager is a nice way of letting Python take care of this for you.

Good practice is to use the following:

import os

writepath = 'some/path/to/file.txt'

mode = 'a' if os.path.exists(writepath) else 'w'
with open(writepath, mode) as f:
    f.write('Hello, world!n')
Answered By: lollercoaster

Put w+ for writing the file, truncating if it exist, r+ to read the file, creating one if it don’t exist but not writing (and returning null) or a+ for creating a new file or appending to a existing one.

Answered By: Gustavo6046

So You want to write data to a file, but only if it doesn’t already exist?.

This problem is easily solved by using the little-known x mode to open() instead of the usual w mode. For example:

 >>> with open('somefile', 'wt') as f:
 ...     f.write('Hellon')
>>> with open('somefile', 'xt') as f:
...     f.write('Hellon')
 Traceback (most recent call last):
 File "<stdin>", line 1, in <module>
FileExistsError: [Errno 17] File exists: 'somefile'

If the file is binary mode, use mode xb instead of xt.

Answered By: Stephen Ngethe
w  write mode
r  read mode
a  append mode

w+  create file if it doesn't exist and open it in write mode
r+  open for reading and writing. Does not create file.
a+  create file if it doesn't exist and open it in append mode


file_name = 'my_file.txt'
f = open(file_name, 'w+')  # open file in write mode
f.write('python rules')

[FYI am using Python version 3.6.2]

Answered By: Gajendra D Ambi

If you want to open it to read and write, I’m assuming you don’t want to truncate it as you open it and you want to be able to read the file right after opening it. So this is the solution I’m using:

file = open('myfile.dat', 'a+'), 0)

Since python 3.4 you should use pathlib to “touch” files.
It is a much more elegant solution than the proposed ones in this thread.

from pathlib import Path

filename = Path('myfile.txt')
filename.touch(exist_ok=True)  # will create file, if it exists will do nothing
file = open(filename)

Same thing with directories:

filename.mkdir(parents=True, exist_ok=True)
Answered By: Granitosaurus
import os, platform

try :
    file = open("Learn Python.txt","a")
    print('this file is exist')
    print('this file is not exist')
file.write('n''Hello Ashok')

fhead = open('Learn Python.txt')

for line in fhead:

    words = line.split()
Answered By: Ganesh Jat

For Python 3+, I will do:

import os

os.makedirs('path/to/the/directory', exist_ok=True)

with open('path/to/the/directory/filename', 'w') as f:

So, the problem is with open cannot create a file before the target directory exists. We need to create it and then w mode is enough in this case.

Answered By: Chenglong Ma