FIX: No such file or directory in Python [6 Reasons]


The “No such file or directory” error is a well-known problem in Python, typically encountered when working with input/output (I/O) operations on files. This error commonly happens when the file or directory being accessed cannot be found by Python. Below are some of the usual causes why you would see this error message and their corresponding solutions:


Possible Causes and Solutions for "No such file or directory" Error in Python

1. Incorrect File Path

The most obvious reason for this failure would be that the file path specified in your code does not exist. It is possible that there could be a typo, incorrect directory structure or actually the file is missing. Well what ever be the reason, it is always a good idea to verify the file path. You can use os.path.exists() to check if the file exists before actually trying to open the file. This will prevent your python code from crashing and you can handle the error exception more gracefully.

import os

# Correct path to the file
file_path = 'correct/path/to/your/file.txt'

if os.path.exists(file_path):
    with open(file_path, 'r') as file:
    print("File not found: ", file_path)


2. Using Relative Path Instead of Absolute Path

I hope you were not using the relative path to your file instead of absolute path. I am sure you know the difference between both the terms but let me still go ahead and give small explanation to remove any bit of doubt you have.

A relative path basically refers to a file's location is relation to the current working directory, using a starting point like ./ or ../ for navigation while an absolute path specifies the complete path of the file such as /home/user/document.txt or C:\Users\document.txt.

If you intend to use relative path then I would recommend to use __file__ to get the location of your script and build the complete path as shown below:

import os

# Assuming the file is located relative to the script's directory
script_dir = os.path.dirname(__file__)
file_path = os.path.join(script_dir, 'relative/path/to/your/file.txt')

if os.path.exists(file_path):
    with open(file_path, 'r') as file:
    print("File not found: ", file_path)


3. File Does Not Exist

Let's not remove the possibility that you spent half an hour looking for a problem in your code and one of your colleague delete the file in question just to trouble you (now that's bad!). Well in such case there is nothing much we can do, but atleast we can handle the exception FileNotFoundError which comes when we encounter such situations:

# Use try-except to handle the situation where the file does not exist
    with open('path/to/your/file.txt', 'r') as file:
except FileNotFoundError:
    print("File not found. Please check the path and ensure the file exists.")


4. Permissions Issues

It is possible that you are running your python code as some different user which does not have access to the file and hence getting No such file or Directory error. You have to make sure that the user used to execute the python code actually has permission to access the file.

You can use python try and except to check and raise PermissionError exception so that you know the root cause. You can read more at How to catch multiple exceptions in Python?

    with open('path/to/your/file.txt', 'r') as file:
except PermissionError:
    print("Permission denied. Please check the file permissions.")


5. Directory Mistaken for File

Let's just hope you are not mixing directory and file name as you won't believe it does happen!

We do have a habit to create a variable with the absolute path and use a different variable for the file name and many times things get mixed up. So it is a good idea to also include a check for the complete file path:

import os

path = 'path/to/your/directory'

if os.path.isdir(path):
    print("This is a directory, not a file.")
elif os.path.isfile(path):
    with open(path, 'r') as file:
    print("Path does not exist.")


6. Symbolic link related failures

A symbolic link or as we call it symlink is also a type of file that acts as a reference or pointer to another file or directory. You will find alot of symbolic links under system binaries path such as /usr, /usr/bin etc. A missing symlink can also lead to "No such file or directory" error. Here is a code which adds some specific checks which can handle symlink related errors:

import os

def check_symlink(path):
    # Check if the path is a symbolic link
    if os.path.islink(path):
        # Resolve the symbolic link
        target_path = os.readlink(path)
        # Check if the target exists
        if os.path.exists(target_path):
            print("Symlink is valid. Target:", target_path)
                # Attempt to open the file to confirm access permissions
                with open(target_path, 'r') as file:
                    print("Successfully opened the symlink target.")
            except PermissionError:
                print("Permission denied for the symlink target.")
            print("Broken symlink detected. Target does not exist:", target_path)
        print("The provided path is not a symlink.")

# Example usage
symlink_path = 'example_symlink'

We are performing the following checks in this code:

  • The function os.path.islink(path) is used to tell whether or not the given path points to a symbolic link.
  • If path is a symbolic link, using os.readlink(path) will return what it points to. It doesn’t follow the symlink but instead gives back the direct destination path.
  • os.path.exists(target_path) checks if the target of the symlink exists so as to determine whether it’s broken or not.
  • Try to open file (e.g., with open(target_path, 'r')) — this confirms that file exists and can be accessed with current permissions. This step catches any PermissionError due to insufficient access rights.
  • When script detects that target doesn’t exist, it should recognize such symlink as broken and inform user about this fact.



In Python, “No such file or directory” error can be handled in a number of ways. For example, you should always make sure that your file path is correct and that it exists by using the os.path.exists() function before opening it. Use relative or absolute paths as appropriate – the former must match your application’s current working directory while the latter should provide a complete directory tree. Employ exception handling to catch errors such as FileNotFoundError and PermissionError so that your program can gracefully handle problems with file accessibility or permissions. Also double check if paths are not mistakenly pointing towards directories instead of files. These techniques collectively improve reliability of performing operations on files in Python through anticipation of typical mistakes.


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Deepak Prasad

Deepak Prasad

He is the founder of GoLinuxCloud and brings over a decade of expertise in Linux, Python, Go, Laravel, DevOps, Kubernetes, Git, Shell scripting, OpenShift, AWS, Networking, and Security. With extensive experience, he excels in various domains, from development to DevOps, Networking, and Security, ensuring robust and efficient solutions for diverse projects. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn profile.

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