Python : How to copy files from one location to another using shutil.copy()

In this article we will discuss how to copy files from one directory to another using shutil.copy().

shutil.copy()

Python’s shutil module provides a function shutil.copy() i.e.

shutil.copy(src, dst, *, follow_symlinks=True)

It copies the file pointed by src to the directory pointed by dst.

Parameters:

  • src is the file path in string
  • dst can be a directory path or another file path in string.
  • If src is a path of symbolic link,
    • If follow_symlinks is True, then it will copy the file pointed by symbolic link.
    • If follow_symlinks is False, then it create a new similar symbolic link in dst directory.

Returns :

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  • It returns the path string of the newly created file.

Module Required,

import shutil

Let’s use this function to copy files,

Copy a file to other Directory

newPath = shutil.copy('sample1.txt', '/home/varun/test')

It will copy the file ‘sample1.txt’ to the directory ‘/home/varung/test’ and returns the path of newly created file i.e.
/home/varung/test/sample1.txt

Some Important Points:

  • If Destination directory already has a file with same name then it will be overwritten.
  • If there is no directory with name test inside /home/varung then it will copy the source file inside /home/varun with name test.
  • If the destination path is not valid i.e. any intermediate directory does not exist then it will give error i.e.
    • FileNotFoundError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: 

Copy a File to other directory with new name

#Copy a file with new name
newPath = shutil.copy('sample1.txt', '/home/varung/test/sample2.txt')

It will copy the file file sample1.txt to another location with name sample2.txt.

Some Important Points:

  • If Destination file already exists then it will be overwritten.
  • If the destination path is not valid i.e. any intermediate directory does not exist then it will give error i.e.
    • FileNotFoundError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: 

Copy symbolic links using shutil.copy()

Suppose we a symbolic link link.csv that points to sample.csv i.e.

link.csv -> sample.csv

Let’s copy symbolic link using shutil.copy() i.e.
shutil.copy(src, dst, *, follow_symlinks=True)

By default follow_symlinks is True i.e. it will copy the target file pointed by source link to the destination director.
newPath = shutil.copy('/home/varung/test/link.csv', '/home/varung/test/sample2.csv')

Contents of newPath will be,
/home/varung/test/sample2.csv

sample2.csv is not a link but actual copy of sample1.csv ( file pointed by link.csv)

If follow_symlinks is False i.e.

newPath = shutil.copy('/home/varung/test/link.csv', '/home/varung/test/newlink.csv', follow_symlinks=False)

It will copy the symbolic link i.e. newlink.csv will be a link pointing to same target file sample1.csv i.e.
newlink.csv -> sample1.txt

If symbolic link is broken i.e. target file doesn’t exists then it will give error,
FileNotFoundError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory

Complete example is as follows,

import shutil

def main():

    # Copy file to another directory
    newPath = shutil.copy('sample1.txt', '/home/varung/test')

    print("Path of copied file : ", newPath)

    #Copy a file with new name
    newPath = shutil.copy('sample1.txt', '/home/varung/test/sample2.txt')

    print("Path of copied file : ", newPath)

    # Copy a symbolic link as a new link
    newPath = shutil.copy('/home/varung/test/link.csv', '/home/varung/test/sample2.csv')

    print("Path of copied file : ", newPath)

    # Copy target file pointed by symbolic link
    newPath = shutil.copy('/home/varung/test/link.csv', '/home/varung/test/newlink.csv', follow_symlinks=False)

    print("Path of copied file : ", newPath)


if __name__ == '__main__':
    main()

Output:
Path of copied file :  /home/varung/test/sample1.txt
Path of copied file :  /home/varung/test/sample2.txt
Path of copied file :  /home/varung/test/sample2.csv
Path of copied file :  /home/varung/test/newlink.csv

 

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1 thought on “Python : How to copy files from one location to another using shutil.copy()”

  1. Nigel Blanchard

    Very fine site I am a retired chartered surveyor in UK and learning Python and it you are one of few programming sites that takes a basic explanation to a more advanced example within a few easy to follow steps.
    Trying to follow help files on Python Org is not easy and your site takes off where the main help files fall over

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