Understanding the Python os.listdir() Method: A Comprehensive Guide

In this tutorial, we will delve into the usage and functionality of the os.listdir() method in Python. This function is part of the os module, which provides a portable way of using operating system dependent functionality.

What is os.listdir()?

The os.listdir() method in Python is used to get the list of all files and directories in the specified directory. If we don’t specify any directory, then list of files and directories in the current working directory will be returned.



The path parameter is optional and it defaults to your current directory.

A Simple Example

import os

This code will return a list containing names of entries in your current directory.

Detailed Walkthrough

To use os.listdir(), you first need to import the os module:

import os

You can then call os.listdir(), passing it a string with your desired path. For example:


This would print out all files and directories within /home.

Error Handling with os.listdir()

If you pass an invalid or non-existent path to os.listdir(), it will raise a FileNotFoundError exception. To handle this error, you can use try/except blocks:

except FileNotFoundError:
    print('Directory not found.')

This will print ‘Directory not found.’ if the directory does not exist.


The os.listdir() method is a simple and effective way to retrieve the contents of a directory in Python. It’s an essential part of the os module that allows you to interact with your operating system. By understanding how to use it, you can make your Python programs more flexible and powerful.

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