10.9. shutil — High-level file operations

The shutil module offers a number of high-level operations on files and collections of files. In particular, functions are provided which support file copying and removal. For operations on individual files, see also the os module.


Even the higher-level file copying functions (copy(), copy2()) can’t copy all file metadata.

On POSIX platforms, this means that file owner and group are lost as well as ACLs. On Mac OS, the resource fork and other metadata are not used. This means that resources will be lost and file type and creator codes will not be correct. On Windows, file owners, ACLs and alternate data streams are not copied.

shutil.copyfileobj(fsrc, fdst[, length])
Copy the contents of the file-like object fsrc to the file-like object fdst. The integer length, if given, is the buffer size. In particular, a negative length value means to copy the data without looping over the source data in chunks; by default the data is read in chunks to avoid uncontrolled memory consumption. Note that if the current file position of the fsrc object is not 0, only the contents from the current file position to the end of the file will be copied.
shutil.copyfile(src, dst)
Copy the contents (no metadata) of the file named src to a file named dst. dst must be the complete target file name; look at copy() for a copy that accepts a target directory path. If src and dst are the same files, Error is raised. The destination location must be writable; otherwise, an IOError exception will be raised. If dst already exists, it will be replaced. Special files such as character or block devices and pipes cannot be copied with this function. src and dst are path names given as strings.
shutil.copymode(src, dst)
Copy the permission bits from src to dst. The file contents, owner, and group are unaffected. src and dst are path names given as strings.
shutil.copystat(src, dst)
Copy the permission bits, last access time, last modification time, and flags from src to dst. The file contents, owner, and group are unaffected. src and dst are path names given as strings.
shutil.copy(src, dst)
Copy the file src to the file or directory dst. If dst is a directory, a file with the same basename as src is created (or overwritten) in the directory specified. Permission bits are copied. src and dst are path names given as strings.
shutil.copy2(src, dst)
Similar to copy(), but metadata is copied as well – in fact, this is just copy() followed by copystat(). This is similar to the Unix command cp -p.
This factory function creates a function that can be used as a callable for copytree()‘s ignore argument, ignoring files and directories that match one of the glob-style patterns provided. See the example below.
shutil.copytree(src, dst[, symlinks=False[, ignore=None]])

Recursively copy an entire directory tree rooted at src. The destination directory, named by dst, must not already exist; it will be created as well as missing parent directories. Permissions and times of directories are copied with copystat(), individual files are copied using copy2().

If symlinks is true, symbolic links in the source tree are represented as symbolic links in the new tree; if false or omitted, the contents of the linked files are copied to the new tree.

If ignore is given, it must be a callable that will receive as its arguments the directory being visited by copytree(), and a list of its contents, as returned by os.listdir(). Since copytree() is called recursively, the ignore callable will be called once for each directory that is copied. The callable must return a sequence of directory and file names relative to the current directory (i.e. a subset of the items in its second argument); these names will then be ignored in the copy process. ignore_patterns() can be used to create such a callable that ignores names based on glob-style patterns.

If exception(s) occur, an Error is raised with a list of reasons.

The source code for this should be considered an example rather than the ultimate tool.

shutil.rmtree(path[, ignore_errors[, onerror]])

Delete an entire directory tree; path must point to a directory (but not a symbolic link to a directory). If ignore_errors is true, errors resulting from failed removals will be ignored; if false or omitted, such errors are handled by calling a handler specified by onerror or, if that is omitted, they raise an exception.

If onerror is provided, it must be a callable that accepts three parameters: function, path, and excinfo. The first parameter, function, is the function which raised the exception; it will be os.path.islink(), os.listdir(), os.remove() or os.rmdir(). The second parameter, path, will be the path name passed to function. The third parameter, excinfo, will be the exception information return by sys.exc_info(). Exceptions raised by onerror will not be caught.

shutil.move(src, dst)

Recursively move a file or directory to another location.

If the destination is on the current filesystem, then simply use rename. Otherwise, copy src (with copy2()) to the dst and then remove src.

exception shutil.Error
This exception collects exceptions that raised during a multi-file operation. For copytree(), the exception argument is a list of 3-tuples (srcname, dstname, exception).

10.9.1. Example

This example is the implementation of the copytree() function, described above, with the docstring omitted. It demonstrates many of the other functions provided by this module.

def copytree(src, dst, symlinks=False):
    names = os.listdir(src)
    errors = []
    for name in names:
        srcname = os.path.join(src, name)
        dstname = os.path.join(dst, name)
            if symlinks and os.path.islink(srcname):
                linkto = os.readlink(srcname)
                os.symlink(linkto, dstname)
            elif os.path.isdir(srcname):
                copytree(srcname, dstname, symlinks)
                copy2(srcname, dstname)
            # XXX What about devices, sockets etc.?
        except (IOError, os.error) as why:
            errors.append((srcname, dstname, str(why)))
        # catch the Error from the recursive copytree so that we can
        # continue with other files
        except Error as err:
        copystat(src, dst)
    except WindowsError:
        # can't copy file access times on Windows
    except OSError as why:
        errors.extend((src, dst, str(why)))
    if errors:
        raise Error(errors)

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