How do I copy an entire directory of files into an existing directory using Python?


Run the following code from a directory that contains a directory named bar (containing one or more files) and a directory named baz (also containing one or more files). Make sure there is not a directory named foo.

import shutil
shutil.copytree('bar', 'foo')
shutil.copytree('baz', 'foo')

It will fail with:

$ python 
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 5, in <module>
    shutil.copytree('baz', 'foo')
  File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/", line 110, in copytree
  File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.5/lib/python2.5/", line 172, in makedirs
OSError: [Errno 17] File exists: 'foo'

I want this to work the same way as if I had typed:

$ mkdir foo
$ cp bar/* foo/
$ cp baz/* foo/

Do I need to use shutil.copy() to copy each file in baz into foo? (After I've already copied the contents of 'bar' into 'foo' with shutil.copytree()?) Or is there an easier/better way?

12/8/2009 6:06:13 PM

Accepted Answer

This limitation of the standard shutil.copytree seems arbitrary and annoying. Workaround:

def copytree(src, dst, symlinks=False, ignore=None):
    for item in os.listdir(src):
        s = os.path.join(src, item)
        d = os.path.join(dst, item)
        if os.path.isdir(s):
            shutil.copytree(s, d, symlinks, ignore)
            shutil.copy2(s, d)

Note that it's not entirely consistent with the standard copytree:

  • it doesn't honor symlinks and ignore parameters for the root directory of the src tree;
  • it doesn't raise shutil.Error for errors at the root level of src;
  • in case of errors during copying of a subtree, it will raise shutil.Error for that subtree instead of trying to copy other subtrees and raising single combined shutil.Error.
8/4/2016 9:30:59 AM

Here's a solution that's part of the standard library.

from distutils.dir_util import copy_tree
copy_tree("/a/b/c", "/x/y/z")

See this similar question.

Copy directory contents into a directory with python

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