Python is a strong and easy-to-learn programming language. It consists of high-level data structures and an object-oriented programming technique that is simple but effective. Python's beautiful syntax and dynamic typing, as well as its interpreted nature, make it an excellent language for scripting and quick application development across a wide range of platforms.

Some of the key features of Python include:

  • Python uses white space, indentation, and scope definition
  • To finish a command requires new lines and is procedural, functional, and object-oriented in nature
  • Python is industry-oriented in nature, i.e., it is a cross-platform, extensible, scalable, portable programming language. It comes with support for GUI, consists of a comprehensive standard library, and allows for interactive modifications
  • Python is simple to learn, manage, implement, and read for a beginner. It also has an interactive aspect to it

One of the most typical activities that a software developer does is copying files programmatically. In this article, we will be discussing a few alternative ways to copy files in Python. We will be looking at various file copying in-built methods like shutil.copy and shutil.copystat.

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Python Copy File Methods

Copying files in Python has never been easier before. There are several methods related to copying files in Python. We will be discussing a couple of them in the coming topics.

Two popular Copy File Methods in Python are:

  • shutil.copy()
  • shutil.copystat()

These methods belong to the Shutil module of Python. So, let us first explore what the Shutil module is.

What Is the Shutil Module?

Shutil is a Python Standard Library module that provides a huge range of high-level file operations. When it comes to copying a file, the library provides a variety of options based on whether we need file permissions or we need to copy metadata, as well as if the destination is a directory.

The available in-built methods in shutil module are:

  • shutil.copy
  • shutil.copy2
  • shutil.copyfile
  • shutil.copyfileobj
  • shutil.copystat

Let us now discuss two of these methods in brief with ample examples.

shutil.copy

The shutil.copy copies the supplied source (without metadata) to the chosen directory or destination file and returns the path to the newly produced file. The src parameter might be a string or a path-like object.

Syntax

shutil.copy(src, dst, *, follow_symlinks=True)

Parameters

  • Return Type: A string representing the path of the newly created file is returned by this procedure
  • destination: The path to the destination file or directory as a string
  • source: A string that represents the source file's path
  • (optional) follow symlinks: True is the default value for this parameter. If it's False and the source is a symbolic link, the destination will also be a symbolic link.
  • Note: The asterisk (*) in the parameter list denotes that the following parameters (in this case, 'follow symlinks') are keyword-only parameters that can only be specified by name, not by position

Features

  • Permissions on files are preserved
  • A directory can be a destination
  • Metadata is not copied
  • It's not compatible with Objects in a file

Example1 - Copying file from Source to Destination

Code

# importing os module

import os

# importing shutil module

import shutil

# path

path = '/home/User/Simplilearn'

print("Prior to copying the file: ")

print(os.listdir(path))

# Source path storage

source_path = "/home/User/Simplilearn/sample_file.txt"

# Printing the file permission

permission = os.stat(source).st_mode

print("The File Permission mode is: ", permission, "\n")

# Destination path storage

dest_path = "/home/User/Simplilearn/sample_file(copy).txt"

# Copying content of source to destination

destination = shutil.copy(source_path, dest_path)

# Listing files and directories

print("After copying the files: ")

print(os.listdir(path))

# Printing file permissions

permission = os.stat(dest_path).st_mode

print("The File Permission mode is: ", permission)

# Printing the newly created file path

print("The Destination path:", destination)

Output

Prior to copying the file:

['rainbow.png', 'test3.py', 'sample_text.txt', 'file.text', 'copy_file.cpp']

File permission mode: 33188

After copying the files: 

['rainbow.png', 'test3.py', 'sample_text.txt', 'file(copy).text', 'copy_file.cpp']

File permission mode: 33188 

Destination path: /home/User/Simplilearn/sample_file(copy).txt

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shutil.copystat

The shutil.copystat() method in Python is used to copy flags values, permission bits, last modification time, and last access time from one path to another.

The file content, as well as the owner and group information, are unaffected by the shutil.copystat() method.

Along with permission bits, last access time, last modification time, and flags value, this technique on Linux tries to transfer some extra properties.

Syntax

shutil.copystat(source, destination, *, follow_symlinks = True)

Parameters

source: A string that represents the source file's path.

destination: A string that represents the destination file's path.

(optional) follow symlinks: True is the default value for this parameter. If it's False and both source and destination are symbolic links, the shutil.copystat() method will work on the symbolic links themselves rather than the files they point to.

Note: The asterisk (*) in the parameter list denotes that the following parameters (in this case, 'follow symlinks') are keyword-only parameters that can only be specified by name, not by position.

Return Type: There is no value returned by this procedure.

Example

Code

import os 

# importing shutil module

import shutil

# importing time module

import time

# Source file path

src = "/home/Simplilearn/Desktop/sample3.py" 

# Destination file path

dest = "/home/Simplilearn/Desktop/encryption.py"

# Printing the permission bits

print("Before using shutil.copystat() method:")

print("Source metadata:")

print("Permission bits:", oct(os.stat(src).st_mode)[-3:])

print("Last access time:", time.ctime(os.stat(src).st_atime))

print("Last modification time:", time.ctime(os.stat(src).st_mtime))

# print("User defined Flags:", os.stat(src).st_flags) 

# is subject to availability 

print("\nDestination metadata:")

print("Permission bits:", oct(os.stat(dest).st_mode)[-3:])

print("Last access time:", time.ctime(os.stat(dest).st_atime))

print("Last modification time:", time.ctime(os.stat(dest).st_mtime))

# print("User defined Flags:", os.stat(dest).st_flags) 

# Copy the permission bits

shutil.copystat(src, dest) 

# Printing the permission bits

print("\nAfter using shutil.copystat() method:")

print("Destination metadata:")

print("Permission bits:", oct(os.stat(dest).st_mode)[-3:])

print("Last access time:", time.ctime(os.stat(dest).st_atime))

print("Last modification time:", time.ctime(os.stat(dest).st_mtime))

# print("User defined Flags:", os.stat(dest).st_flags) 

print("Permission bits, last access time and last modification time\n\

copied from source to the destination successfully")

Output

Before using shutil.copystat() method:

Source metadata:

Permission bits: 664

Last access time: Tue March 22 00:37:16 2022

Last modification time: Tue March 22 00:18:23 2022

Destination metadata:

Permission bits: 777

Last access time: Tue March 22 00:37:16 2022

Last modification time: Tue March 22 00:18:23 2022

After using shutil.copystat() method:

Destination metadata:

Permission bits: 664

Last access time: Tue March 22 00:37:16 2022

Last modification time: Tue March 22 00:18:23 2022

Permission bits, last access time, and last modification time

copied from source to the destination successfully

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File copying is a very useful tool in Python to rapidly copy files from source to destination.

We use the shutil module in Python to copy files using programming in Python.

Some of the methods in the shutil module include-

  • shutil.copy
  • shutil.copy2
  • shutil.copyfile
  • shutil.copyfileobj
  • shutil.copystat

To learn all about python and grow in your programming career, enroll in Simplilearn’s Python Development Training today. 

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