Python — How to Import Modules From Another Folder?

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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 Formulation

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 file_1.py in file_2.py.

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 applications folder.

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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 applications folder.

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. I’d consider this to be the most Pythonic way of solving this problem.

Method 4: Importlib

A not-so Pythonic alternative — it’s more clunky and is based on external dependencies — would be to use the importlib module.

Here’s an example:

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()

Related Video

Feel free to watch the following explainer video where Finxter Creator Peter shows you how to call a function from another file:

References

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