4 Handy Ways to List Files in a Directory With Python

Claudio Sabato
6 min readDec 14, 2022

Do you want to find out how to list files in a directory using Python? In this article, you will see how to do it in 4 different ways so you can choose the one you prefer.

In all the examples we will list files in a directory with the following structure. We will call the directory test_dir:

├── data
│ └── tech.txt
└── report.txt

1 directory, 2 files

Let’s get started!

How to List Files in a Directory Using Python os.listdir()

The Python OS module allows the execution of Operating System tasks. This module comes with a variety of functions you can use to create, delete and fetch files and directories. The OS module has a function called listdir() which allows listing files and subdirectories in a directory.

Here is an example:

import os

directory = '/opt/codefather/test_dir/'
file_paths = os.listdir(directory)

After importing the OS module, we set the path to our directory and pass it to the listdir() function which lists all the files present in the directory.

Note that the listdir() function returns the list of files and subdirectories in the directory we pass to it, but it does not list files in any subdirectories.

In fact, as you can see, the output below doesn’t include the tech.txt file inside the data directory:

['report.txt', 'data']

Note: if you are using Windows you can set the value of the directory variable based on the location of the test_dir directory on your computer.

Let’s add the following Python statement before the last print() function to show the type of the file_paths variable.


When you execute the program you will see the following in the output that shows that the file_paths variable is a Python list.

<class 'list'>

From the output of os.listdir() we don’t know if a given element of the list returned by listdir() is a file or directory without doing any additional checks.

How Does the Python…

Claudio Sabato

Claudio Sabato is an IT expert with over 15 years of professional experience in Python/Bash programming, Linux Systems Administration and IT Systems Design.