Using the built-in modules is the default place to import codes in Python. Import the module and use the functions. That’s it. However, at times, the default lacks the modules or packages you need. Then, you must turn to different locations or directories to import what you need. And you can’t do so without knowing how to manipulate the Python path.
Table of Contents
In this article, we will explore Python Path, when and why you need to learn how to manipulate it, and the way to do so.
So, without further ado, let’s learn how to augment or manipulate the default search path in Python.
The Python path is the directory the interpreter turns to search for modules or packages when you use the import statement. Python usually works around three default paths.
Knowing the default directories don’t always prove adequate, it is now time to learn how to manipulate the Python path.
Importing Custom Modules – Manipulating the default Python path becomes a must when you need to access directories for custom packages or modules.
Using Virtual Environments – Augmenting the Python path helps isolate project dependencies in virtual environments. By doing so, you ensure the project only uses the packages in the virtual environment, not the system-wide ones.
Selecting the Right Python Version – The Python path manipulation also helps choose the right Python version from a bunch.
Knowing when you need to manipulate the Python path, let’s learn how to do so step-by-step.
Before you change the path, you need to know the default one. Here’s a command to know the default Python path.
The command will list the default directories in Python. Note these directories as they will help you adjust or manipulate them correctly.
The next command modifies the Python path temporarily for a specific session or script. We do this using the ‘sys.path.append()’ method.
# Add a custom directory to the Python Path
# Now you can import modules from the custom directory
The above syntax works like a charm when you want to change the default path for a specific task without overriding the system’s default.
Use environment variables to modify the Python path permanently. Do this when you want to add new import directories to Python for all future sessions.
Here’s how to do so in Windows:
On the other hand, you need to modify your shell configuration file to add directories to Python on macOS or Linux. Here’s how.
Re-run the script you ran in the first step to check whether the Python path modification was successful.
Knowing the ‘how’ behind the Python path modification, let’s understand its implementation with a practical example.
# Create a virtual environment named "myenv"
python -m venv myenv
Use the syntax below to install packages. Now the virtual environment is active, the packages will remain isolated to that environment.
pip install package_name
Run the Python script to verify the virtual environment is working right and modifying the path correctly.
Knowing how to augment the Python path is a must for every Python developer, as it helps you work seamlessly with custom modules, virtual environments, and specific Python versions. Without it, doing the above becomes a hassle in Python as you must repeatedly write lengthy code to import right.
Read more: A Guide to Implementing the Java CompareTo Method
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