11.6. tempfile — Generate temporary files and directories

Source code: Lib/tempfile.py


This module generates temporary files and directories. It works on all supported platforms. It provides three new functions, NamedTemporaryFile(), mkstemp(), and mkdtemp(), which should eliminate all remaining need to use the insecure mktemp() function. Temporary file names created by this module no longer contain the process ID; instead a string of six random characters is used.

Also, all the user-callable functions now take additional arguments which allow direct control over the location and name of temporary files. It is no longer necessary to use the global tempdir variable. To maintain backward compatibility, the argument order is somewhat odd; it is recommended to use keyword arguments for clarity.

The module defines the following user-callable items:

tempfile.TemporaryFile(mode='w+b', buffering=None, encoding=None, newline=None, suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None)

Return a file-like object that can be used as a temporary storage area. The file is created using mkstemp(). It will be destroyed as soon as it is closed (including an implicit close when the object is garbage collected). Under Unix, the directory entry for the file is removed immediately after the file is created. Other platforms do not support this; your code should not rely on a temporary file created using this function having or not having a visible name in the file system.

The mode parameter defaults to 'w+b' so that the file created can be read and written without being closed. Binary mode is used so that it behaves consistently on all platforms without regard for the data that is stored. buffering, encoding and newline are interpreted as for open().

The dir, prefix and suffix parameters are passed to mkstemp().

The returned object is a true file object on POSIX platforms. On other platforms, it is a file-like object whose file attribute is the underlying true file object. This file-like object can be used in a with statement, just like a normal file.

tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile(mode='w+b', buffering=None, encoding=None, newline=None, suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None, delete=True)

This function operates exactly as TemporaryFile() does, except that the file is guaranteed to have a visible name in the file system (on Unix, the directory entry is not unlinked). That name can be retrieved from the name attribute of the file object. Whether the name can be used to open the file a second time, while the named temporary file is still open, varies across platforms (it can be so used on Unix; it cannot on Windows NT or later). If delete is true (the default), the file is deleted as soon as it is closed. The returned object is always a file-like object whose file attribute is the underlying true file object. This file-like object can be used in a with statement, just like a normal file.

tempfile.SpooledTemporaryFile(max_size=0, mode='w+b', buffering=None, encoding=None, newline=None, suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None)

This function operates exactly as TemporaryFile() does, except that data is spooled in memory until the file size exceeds max_size, or until the file’s fileno() method is called, at which point the contents are written to disk and operation proceeds as with TemporaryFile().

The resulting file has one additional method, rollover(), which causes the file to roll over to an on-disk file regardless of its size.

The returned object is a file-like object whose _file attribute is either a io.BytesIO or io.StringIO object (depending on whether binary or text mode was specified) or a true file object, depending on whether rollover() has been called. This file-like object can be used in a with statement, just like a normal file.

Changed in version 3.3: the truncate method now accepts a size argument.

tempfile.TemporaryDirectory(suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None)

This function creates a temporary directory using mkdtemp() (the supplied arguments are passed directly to the underlying function). The resulting object can be used as a context manager (see With Statement Context Managers). On completion of the context (or destruction of the temporary directory object), the newly created temporary directory and all its contents are removed from the filesystem.

The directory name can be retrieved from the name attribute of the returned object.

The directory can be explicitly cleaned up by calling the cleanup() method.

New in version 3.2.

tempfile.mkstemp(suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None, text=False)

Creates a temporary file in the most secure manner possible. There are no race conditions in the file’s creation, assuming that the platform properly implements the os.O_EXCL flag for os.open(). The file is readable and writable only by the creating user ID. If the platform uses permission bits to indicate whether a file is executable, the file is executable by no one. The file descriptor is not inherited by child processes.

Unlike TemporaryFile(), the user of mkstemp() is responsible for deleting the temporary file when done with it.

If suffix is specified, the file name will end with that suffix, otherwise there will be no suffix. mkstemp() does not put a dot between the file name and the suffix; if you need one, put it at the beginning of suffix.

If prefix is specified, the file name will begin with that prefix; otherwise, a default prefix is used.

If dir is specified, the file will be created in that directory; otherwise, a default directory is used. The default directory is chosen from a platform-dependent list, but the user of the application can control the directory location by setting the TMPDIR, TEMP or TMP environment variables. There is thus no guarantee that the generated filename will have any nice properties, such as not requiring quoting when passed to external commands via os.popen().

If text is specified, it indicates whether to open the file in binary mode (the default) or text mode. On some platforms, this makes no difference.

mkstemp() returns a tuple containing an OS-level handle to an open file (as would be returned by os.open()) and the absolute pathname of that file, in that order.

tempfile.mkdtemp(suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None)

Creates a temporary directory in the most secure manner possible. There are no race conditions in the directory’s creation. The directory is readable, writable, and searchable only by the creating user ID.

The user of mkdtemp() is responsible for deleting the temporary directory and its contents when done with it.

The prefix, suffix, and dir arguments are the same as for mkstemp().

mkdtemp() returns the absolute pathname of the new directory.

tempfile.mktemp(suffix='', prefix='tmp', dir=None)

Deprecated since version 2.3: Use mkstemp() instead.

Return an absolute pathname of a file that did not exist at the time the call is made. The prefix, suffix, and dir arguments are the same as for mkstemp().

Warning

Use of this function may introduce a security hole in your program. By the time you get around to doing anything with the file name it returns, someone else may have beaten you to the punch. mktemp() usage can be replaced easily with NamedTemporaryFile(), passing it the delete=False parameter:

>>> f = NamedTemporaryFile(delete=False)
>>> f.name
'/tmp/tmptjujjt'
>>> f.write(b"Hello World!\n")
13
>>> f.close()
>>> os.unlink(f.name)
>>> os.path.exists(f.name)
False

The module uses two global variables that tell it how to construct a temporary name. They are initialized at the first call to any of the functions above. The caller may change them, but this is discouraged; use the appropriate function arguments, instead.

tempfile.tempdir

When set to a value other than None, this variable defines the default value for the dir argument to all the functions defined in this module.

If tempdir is unset or None at any call to any of the above functions, Python searches a standard list of directories and sets tempdir to the first one which the calling user can create files in. The list is:

  1. The directory named by the TMPDIR environment variable.
  2. The directory named by the TEMP environment variable.
  3. The directory named by the TMP environment variable.
  4. A platform-specific location:
    • On Windows, the directories C:\TEMP, C:\TMP, \TEMP, and \TMP, in that order.
    • On all other platforms, the directories /tmp, /var/tmp, and /usr/tmp, in that order.
  5. As a last resort, the current working directory.
tempfile.gettempdir()

Return the directory currently selected to create temporary files in. If tempdir is not None, this simply returns its contents; otherwise, the search described above is performed, and the result returned.

tempfile.gettempprefix()

Return the filename prefix used to create temporary files. This does not contain the directory component.

11.6.1. Examples

Here are some examples of typical usage of the tempfile module:

>>> import tempfile

# create a temporary file and write some data to it
>>> fp = tempfile.TemporaryFile()
>>> fp.write(b'Hello world!')
# read data from file
>>> fp.seek(0)
>>> fp.read()
b'Hello world!'
# close the file, it will be removed
>>> fp.close()

# create a temporary file using a context manager
>>> with tempfile.TemporaryFile() as fp:
...     fp.write(b'Hello world!')
...     fp.seek(0)
...     fp.read()
b'Hello world!'
>>>
# file is now closed and removed

# create a temporary directory using the context manager
>>> with tempfile.TemporaryDirectory() as tmpdirname:
...     print('created temporary directory', tmpdirname)
>>>
# directory and contents have been removed