Python Delete File (Ultimate Guide)

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Python offers several powerful options to handle file operations, including deleting files. Whether you need to check if a file exists before deleting, use patterns to delete multiple files, or automatically delete files under certain conditions, Python has a tool for you.

Let’s delve into various ways you can delete files using Python, ranging from straightforward to more complex scenarios.

Python Delete File if Exists

In Python, it’s good practice to check if a file exists before attempting to delete it to avoid errors. You can achieve this using the os module.

import os

file_path = 'example.txt'
if os.path.exists(file_path):
    print(f"File {file_path} has been deleted.")
    print(f"File {file_path} does not exist.")

In this code, we first import the os module. We then specify the file path and check if the file exists. If it does, we use os.remove() to delete it and confirm the deletion. If not, we output a message stating the file does not exist.

Python Delete File Pathlib

Pathlib is a modern file handling library in Python. It provides an object-oriented approach to manage file systems and works very intuitively.

from pathlib import Path

file_path = Path('example.txt')
if file_path.exists():
    print(f"File {file_path} has been deleted.")
    print(f"File {file_path} does not exist.")

Here, we use Path from the pathlib module to create a Path object. We check if the file exists with .exists(), and then use .unlink() to delete it, providing an elegant, readable approach to file deletion.

Python Delete File Contents

If your goal is to clear the contents of a file without deleting the file itself, you can simply open the file in write mode.

file_path = 'example.txt'
with open(file_path, 'w'):
    print(f"Contents of {file_path} have been cleared.")

Opening the file in ‘write’ mode ('w') without writing anything effectively erases the file’s contents, giving you a blank file.

Python Delete File OS

Using the os module is one of the most common ways to delete a file in Python. It’s straightforward and explicit.

import os

file_path = 'example.txt'
    print(f"File {file_path} successfully deleted.")
except FileNotFoundError:
    print(f"The file {file_path} does not exist.")

This approach attempts to delete the file and handles the potential FileNotFoundError to avoid crashes if the file doesn’t exist.

Python Delete File with Wildcard

To delete multiple files that match a pattern, we can combine glob from the glob module with os.remove.

import os
import glob

for file_path in glob.glob('*.txt'):
    print(f"Deleted {file_path}")

print("All .txt files deleted.")

This code snippet finds all .txt files in the current directory and deletes each, providing an efficient way to handle multiple files.

Python Delete File After Reading

If you need to delete a file right after processing its contents, this can be managed smoothly using Python.

file_path = 'example.txt'
with open(file_path, 'r') as file:
    data =
    print(f"Read data: {data}")

print(f"File {file_path} deleted after reading.")

We read the file, process the contents, and immediately delete the file afterwards. This is particularly useful for temporary files.

Python Delete File From Directory if Exists

Sometimes, we need to target a file inside a specific directory. Checking if the file exists within the directory before deletion can prevent errors.

import os

directory = 'my_directory'
file_name = 'example.txt'
file_path = os.path.join(directory, file_name)

if os.path.exists(file_path):
    print(f"File {file_path} from directory {directory} has been deleted.")
    print(f"File {file_path} does not exist in {directory}.")

This code constructs the file path, checks its existence, and deletes it if present, all while handling directories.

Python Delete File Extension

Deleting files by extension in a directory is straightforward with Python. Here’s how you might delete all .log files in a directory:

import os

directory = '/path_to_directory'
for file_name in os.listdir(directory):
    if file_name.endswith('.log'):
        os.remove(os.path.join(directory, file_name))
        print(f"Deleted {file_name}")

This loops through all files in the given directory, checks if they end with .log, and deletes them.

Python Delete File on Exit

To ensure files are deleted when a Python script is done executing, use atexit.

import atexit
import os

file_path = 'temporary_file.txt'
open(file_path, 'a').close()  # Create the file

def cleanup():
    print(f"File {file_path} has been deleted on exit.")


This code sets up a cleanup function that deletes a specified file and registers this function to be called when the script exits.

Python Delete File After Time

For deleting files after a certain period, use time and os.

import os
import time

file_path = 'old_file.txt'
time_to_wait = 10  # seconds

print(f"File {file_path} deleted after {time_to_wait} seconds.")

After waiting for a specified time, the file is deleted, which can be useful for timed file cleanup tasks.


  • Delete if Exists: Use os.path.exists() and os.remove().
  • Pathlib: Employ Path.exists() and Path.unlink().
  • Delete Contents: Open in ‘write’ mode.
  • OS Module: Directly use os.remove().
  • Wildcard Deletion: Utilize glob.glob() and os.remove().
  • After Reading: Delete following file read operations.
  • From Directory if Exists: Construct path with os.path.join().
  • Delete File Extension: Loop through directory and delete based on extension.
  • On Exit: Use atexit.register().
  • After Time: Combine time.sleep() with os.remove().

Each method provides a robust way to handle different file deletion scenarios efficiently and securely in Python. Choose the one that best suits your needs to maintain sleek and effective code.