python script - How do I copy a file in Python?

7 Answers

shutil has many methods you can use. One of which is:

from shutil import copyfile

copyfile(src, dst)

Copy the contents of the file named src to a file named dst. The destination location must be writable; otherwise, an IOError exception will be raised. If dst already exists, it will be replaced. Special files such as character or block devices and pipes cannot be copied with this function. src and dst are path names given as strings.

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How do I copy a file in Python?

I couldn't find anything under os.

copy2(src,dst) is often more useful than copyfile(src,dst) because:

  • it allows dst to be a directory (instead of the complete target filename), in which case the basename of src is used for creating the new file;
  • it preserves the original modification and access info (mtime and atime) in the file metadata (however, this comes with a slight overhead).

Here is a short example:

import shutil
shutil.copy2('/src/dir/file.ext', '/dst/dir/newname.ext') # complete target filename given
shutil.copy2('/src/file.ext', '/dst/dir') # target filename is /dst/dir/file.ext

You can use one of the copy functions from the shutil package:

Function              preserves     supports          accepts     copies other
                      permissions   directory dest.   file obj    metadata  
shutil.copy              ✔             ✔                 ☐           ☐
shutil.copy2             ✔             ✔                 ☐           ✔
shutil.copyfile          ☐             ☐                 ☐           ☐
shutil.copyfileobj       ☐             ☐                 ✔           ☐


import shutil
shutil.copy('/etc/hostname', '/var/tmp/testhostname')

Directory and File copy example - From Tim Golden's Python Stuff:

import os
import shutil
import tempfile

filename1 = tempfile.mktemp (".txt")
open (filename1, "w").close ()
filename2 = filename1 + ".copy"
print filename1, "=>", filename2

shutil.copy (filename1, filename2)

if os.path.isfile (filename2): print "Success"

dirname1 = tempfile.mktemp (".dir")
os.mkdir (dirname1)
dirname2 = dirname1 + ".copy"
print dirname1, "=>", dirname2

shutil.copytree (dirname1, dirname2)

if os.path.isdir (dirname2): print "Success"

Look at module shutil. It contains function copyfile(src, dst)

For large files, what I did was read the file line by line and read each line into an array. Then, once the array reached a certain size, append it to a new file.

for line in open("file.txt", "r"):
    if len(list) == 1000000: 
        del list[:]

I suggest using Swati's answer, but supposing you have a text file and don't want to use additional libraries in your code just to copy it, you can use the following one-liner:

with open(source, 'r') as src, open(dest, 'w') as dst: dst.write(


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