Adventures in Machine Learning

Unleashing Python’s Power: Understanding the __file__ Variable

Understanding Python’s __file__ Variable: How it Works and Why it Matters

Python developers consistently rely on the language’s dunder (double underscore) methods to enhance their coding process. One of them, __file__, is frequently used to obtain the file path of the current module in use.

This variable is a crucial part of Python’s import system and allows developers to manipulate file paths in various waysgenerating logs, detecting file changes, or reading external files, among others. In this article, we will walk you through how Python’s __file__ variable works and why it matters, with a practical example to consolidate your understanding.

Definition of Dunder in Python

Dunder is short for “double underscore” and is commonly used to represent private attributes, methods, or specially named methods in classes. These special methods are a fundamental part of Python and allow developers to write concise and readable code while performing specific actions.

Overview of __file__ Variable

The __file__ variable returns the path of the current module at runtime, allowing developers to manipulate the file’s content at runtime. This variable is an essential component used in Python’s import system and is typically accessed within modules to allow Python to locate files during runtime.

Implementation of __file__ Variable

The __file__ variable is an automatic attribute provided by Python, and its implementation is straightforward. Whenever you need to use or access the file path, you need to import the __file__ attribute.

Python will then automatically provide you with the module object, from which you can access the __file__ variable.

Example 1:

Implementation of __file__ Variable

Let’s consider a practical example to understand the implementation of __file__ better.

We will first use the os module to print the module path.

Using the os Module to Print Module Path

When using Python, the os module can be used to interact with the operating system, including accessing file system resources and user accounts. In the following code, we will import the os module, which allows us to access the current module path:


import os



Running the code will generate the following output:




From here, we can see the path to the current module is /home/user/programming/ Target.txt File for Detailed Module Path

In addition to the os module, creating an external file that contains the module path of the target file in use can be handy.

An easy way to do this is by creating a text file and writing the module path to the file, as shown below:


import os

with open(‘target.txt’, ‘w’) as f:



With this code in place, the file target.txt will contain the complete path to the module in use.


In this article, we have reviewed the __file__ variable in Python, which is frequently used by Python developers to obtain the module’s path in use. We have also shown you how to create a text file that contains this path, which is helpful in many use cases.

By understanding how __file__ works, you can improve your workflow and write Python code that is more efficient, reliable, and easier to maintain. Example 2: Finding a Path of User-Defined Module using Python’s __file__ Variable

When building larger-scale Python applications, you may find the need to create custom modules.

These modules can be used to break up your code into smaller, more manageable pieces, making debugging and maintenance more straightforward. But how do you access the module path of these custom modules?

You can utilize Python’s __file__ variable for this purpose. In this section, we will explore how to use __file__ variable to find the path of a user-defined module.

Defining the Module and hello() Function

To demonstrate how to utilize the __file__ variable, let’s create a custom module named that includes a simple function that prints out a welcome message. Here’s what the module code might look like:


def hello():

print(“Welcome to the custom module!”)


We can save this module to a folder named `my_module`.

Implementing the __file__ Variable in File

Next, we can create a `` file in the same folder as `my_module`. In the `` file, we need to import the `my_module` and utilize the __file__ variable to obtain the path.


import my_module

import os

print(“The path of the user-defined module is:”, os.path.abspath(my_module.__file__))


In this code, we imported the `my_module` module that was defined earlier and printed out the absolute path of the module using the `os.path.abspath()` function. The output of running the program in the terminal would look like:


Welcome to the custom module!

The path of the user-defined module is: /Users/user/Documents/my_project/


As you can see from the output, the module is successfully imported and the path of the module can be accessed using the `__file__` variable.


In summary, the __file__ variable is a powerful tool for Python developers that enables them to obtain the path of the current module or a user-defined module. This attribute is automatically provided by Python’s import system and can be accessed by importing the module and accessing the `__file__` attribute of the module object.

We have looked at two examples demonstrating how to use this variable. In the first example, we used the `os` module to print the absolute path of the current module, while in the second example, we imported a user-defined module and accessed the module path using the `__file__` attribute.

In conclusion, utilizing the __file__ variable can enhance developers’ ability to automate and streamline their Python development workflow. To conclude, Python’s __file__ variable is a powerful tool that enables developers to obtain the path of the current module or user-defined modules.

This attribute is automatically provided by Python’s import system and can be accessed by importing the relevant module. We looked at how the __file__ variable works and provided practical examples demonstrating its use to print the module path.

The ability to obtain path information from modules at runtime can streamline development, automate tasks, and enhance debugging and maintenance. Understanding and using the __file__ variable can lead to more efficient, maintainable, and readable Python code.

Popular Posts