Turn a string into a valid filename?


I have a string that I want to use as a filename, so I want to remove all characters that wouldn't be allowed in filenames, using Python.

I'd rather be strict than otherwise, so let's say I want to retain only letters, digits, and a small set of other characters like "_-.() ". What's the most elegant solution?

The filename needs to be valid on multiple operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac OS) - it's an MP3 file in my library with the song title as the filename, and is shared and backed up between 3 machines.

11/28/2016 2:18:47 AM

Accepted Answer

This is the solution I ultimately used:

import unicodedata

validFilenameChars = "-_.() %s%s" % (string.ascii_letters, string.digits)

def removeDisallowedFilenameChars(filename):
    cleanedFilename = unicodedata.normalize('NFKD', filename).encode('ASCII', 'ignore')
    return ''.join(c for c in cleanedFilename if c in validFilenameChars)

The unicodedata.normalize call replaces accented characters with the unaccented equivalent, which is better than simply stripping them out. After that all disallowed characters are removed.

My solution doesn't prepend a known string to avoid possible disallowed filenames, because I know they can't occur given my particular filename format. A more general solution would need to do so.

3/30/2009 7:40:17 PM

You can look at the Django framework for how they create a "slug" from arbitrary text. A slug is URL- and filename- friendly.

The Django text utils define a function, slugify(), that's probably the gold standard for this kind of thing. Essentially, their code is the following.

def slugify(value):
    Normalizes string, converts to lowercase, removes non-alpha characters,
    and converts spaces to hyphens.
    import unicodedata
    value = unicodedata.normalize('NFKD', value).encode('ascii', 'ignore')
    value = unicode(re.sub('[^\w\s-]', '', value).strip().lower())
    value = unicode(re.sub('[-\s]+', '-', value))

There's more, but I left it out, since it doesn't address slugification, but escaping.

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