The most Pythonic way to import a module from another folder is to place an empty file named
__init__.py into that folder and use the relative path with the dot notation. For example, a module in the parent folder would be imported with
from .. import module. The
__init__.py file signals to Python that the folder should be treated as package.
Problem: How to import a file or a module from another folder or directory in Python?
Example: Say, you’ve given the following folder structure:
application ├── app │ └── folder │ └── file_1.py └── app2 └── some_folder └── file_2.py
Your goal is to import functions from
Method 1: sys.path.append()
The first method appends the path of the
file_1.py to the system’s path variable.
# file_2.py import sys sys.path.append('/.../application/app/folder') import file_1
Note that you need to replace the first three dots in
'/…/application/app/folder' with the concrete path to the
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Okay, let’s move on to a slightly modified solution to this problem:
Method 2: sys.path.insert()
A similar alternative is to insert the path of
file_1.py to position 1 of the system’s path variable. This ensures that it’s loaded with higher priority and avoids some naming conflicts:
# file_2.py import sys sys.path.insert(1, '/.../application/app/folder') import file
Again, replace the first three dots in
'/.../application/app/folder' with the concrete path to the
Method 3: Dot Notation with __init__.py
You can also do the following trick—creating a new package.
# file_2.py from application.app.folder.file_1 import func_name
However, make sure to include an empty
__init__.py file in the directory. This file tells Python to treat the directory as a package. It is considered to be the most Pythonic way of solving this problem.
Method 4: Importlib
A not-so Pythonic alternative is to use the
import importlib.util as ilu folder = '/.../application/app/folder' file = 'file_2' spec = ilu.spec_from_file_location(file, folder) your_lib = ilu.module_from_spec(spec) spec.loader.exec_module(your_lib) your_lib.function()
Where to Go From Here?
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While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com. He’s author of the popular programming book Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), coauthor of the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books, computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.