How to Change Working Directory in Python

August 1, 2023


A working directory is where a Python script looks for and saves files during execution. Changing the working directory in Python is essential for efficient Python file handling and management.

The process simplifies code and improves productivity when going through the file system.

This guide shows how to change the working directory in Python.

How to Change Working Directory in Python


  • Python 3 installed and configured.
  • A Python IDE or text editor to write code.
  • The os module for communicating with the operating system.

Get Current Working Directory in Python

The getcwd() function from the os module fetches the current working directory location. The function returns the full path starting from the root directory to the current working directory. The working directory is where a Python script executes all the commands.

The syntax is:


To check the current working directory, import the os module and print the getcwd() function's results. For example:

import os

If using a text editor, save the code and run the script with the following command:

python3 [filename].py
Python os.getcwd() output

The code prints the current working directory of the script.

Note: If running the code results in an error, Python might not be installed or added to PATH. See how to fix the python: command not found error.

Change Current Working Directory in Python

To switch the current working directory in Python to a different location, use the chdir() function from the os module and provide the absolute path as a string. The syntax is:


To test how the function works, import the os module and print the current working directory. Change the location using the chdir() function and print the working directory again.

The example below demonstrates how to change the working directory:

import os
Python os.chdir() output

The code prints the working directory before and after the change. The current working directory changes to the location provided in the chdir() function.

Alternatively, save the path as a string and provide the variable to the function. For example:

import os
path = '[path]'
Python path string change working directory output

Storing the path string in a variable allows storing multiple locations in different variables at the beginning of the code. Multiple variables can reside in a list, which enables looping through the list and changing directories with ease.


After reading this guide, you know how to check the current working directory and change it to a different location. Python uses the os module to communicate with the underlying operating system to commit the changes.

Next, learn how to read from stdin using Python to read user input from files.

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Milica Dancuk
Milica Dancuk is a technical writer at phoenixNAP with a passion for programming. With a background in Electrical Engineering and Computing, coupled with her teaching experience, she excels at simplifying complex technical concepts in her writing.
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