5 Best Ways to Select a Directory and Store the Location Using Tkinter in Python

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When working with graphical user interface (GUI) applications in Python, users often need to browse their local file system to select a directory. The task is to enable the user to select a directory through a dialog window and then store that directory’s path for further use. For example, the user clicks a ‘Browse’ button, selects ‘/Users/username/Documents/Projects’, and the application stores this path for subsequent operations.

Method 1: Using askdirectory from filedialog

This method relies on the askdirectory function from the tkinter.filedialog module, which triggers a dialog window allowing users to select a directory. The selected directory’s path is then returned as a string, which can be stored and used by the application.

Here’s an example:

import tkinter as tk
from tkinter import filedialog

root = tk.Tk()
root.withdraw()  # hide the main window

def select_directory():
    dir_name = filedialog.askdirectory()
    print(f"The selected directory is: {dir_name}")
    return dir_name

directory = select_directory()

The output would display the chosen directory path in the console.

In the code above, we create a Tkinter window, immediately withdraw it to hide from view, and define a function select_directory that calls askdirectory, which opens the dialog window. The function prints and returns the selected path.

Method 2: Remembering the Last Opened Directory

For enhanced user experience, you can have the file dialog remember the last directory the user visited. You achieve this by saving the last-selected directory path to a variable and passing it as an initial directory in askdirectory.

Here’s an example:

last_opened_dir = "/"

def select_directory():
    global last_opened_dir
    dir_name = filedialog.askdirectory(initialdir=last_opened_dir)
    if dir_name:  # If a directory was selected
        last_opened_dir = dir_name
        print(f"Selected directory: {dir_name}")
        return dir_name
        print("No directory selected")

directory = select_directory()

If the user selects a directory, it will be printed; otherwise, a no-selection message will be displayed.

This method enhances the user’s navigation experience by starting the directory search from the last accessed location. This is achieved by storing the last selected directory path in a global variable last_opened_dir, which is passed to askdirectory as the initialdir option.

Method 3: Storing the Directory Path in a Class Attribute

Encapsulating directory selection within a class can organize code better, especially for larger projects. By storing the directory path as a class attribute, you simplify access and modifications to the path throughout your application.

Here’s an example:

class DirectorySelector:
    def __init__(self):
        self.directory = None

    def select_directory(self):
        self.directory = filedialog.askdirectory()
        print(f"Selected directory: {self.directory}")

selector = DirectorySelector()

The console will output the selected directory, or nothing if the dialog is cancelled.

This snippet defines a class DirectorySelector with an attribute directory to hold the selected path. The method select_directory opens the file dialog to choose a directory, updates the directory attribute, and prints the path.

Method 4: Integrating Directory Selection into a GUI

Integrating directory selection as part of a larger Tkinter GUI application provides a more seamless experience. You can create a dedicated button in the app allowing users to select a directory and display the result in the UI.

Here’s an example:

class App:
    def __init__(self, root):
        self.root = root
        self.selected_dir_label = tk.Label(root, text="No directory selected")
        select_button = tk.Button(root, text="Select directory", command=self.select_directory)

    def select_directory(self):
        directory = filedialog.askdirectory()
        if directory:

root = tk.Tk()
app = App(root)

The GUI will have a label and a button, with the label changing to the path of the selected directory when the button is clicked.

The code constructs a simple GUI with a label and a button. The button’s command triggers select_directory, which uses askdirectory to get the directory. If successful, the label text in the UI is updated to show the path.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Lambda Function in Button Command

If your application only needs to store the selected directory path and no additional functionalities, you can compact the process using a lambda function directly in the button’s command option.

Here’s an example:

root = tk.Tk()
selected_directory = tk.StringVar()
tk.Button(root, text="Select directory", command=lambda: selected_directory.set(filedialog.askdirectory())).pack()
tk.Label(root, textvariable=selected_directory).pack()

A single line of code binds the directory selection process to a button click, immediately updating a label with the path.

This method provides a concise way to achieve directory selection within a single line of code. It utilizes a lambda function to set the value of a StringVar to the selected directory which is then linked to a label to display.


  • Method 1: askdirectory Function. Strengths: Simple, direct, no-frills approach. Weaknesses: Does not recall the last-selected directory.
  • Method 2: Remembering Last Opened Directory. Strengths: User-friendly, remembers context. Weaknesses: Requires global state.
  • Method 3: Using a Class. Strengths: Encapsulation, good for larger projects. Weaknesses: More complex, overkill for small scripts.
  • Method 4: GUI Integration. Strengths: Seamless user experience. Weaknesses: Requires building a full GUI.
  • Method 5: Lambda Function. Strengths: Compact, all-in-one line. Weaknesses: Less readable, inflexible.