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Opening and Performing File Input in Python: A Comprehensive Guide


Opening Files and Performing File Input in Python

Python is a powerful programming language that provides various functionalities for file input and output operations. In this tutorial, we will explore how to open files and perform file input in Python. We will cover the steps involved in reading data from a file, processing it, and manipulating the file contents.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. File Modes
  3. Opening a File
  4. Reading Data from a File
  5. Closing a File
  6. File Input Examples
    1. Example 1: Counting the Number of Words in a File
    2. Example 2: Reading a CSV File
  7. Conclusion

File Modes

Before we dive into file input operations, it’s important to understand the different file modes available in Python. The file mode specifies the purpose for which the file is opened. The commonly used file modes are as follows:

  • r: Read mode - Opens a file for reading (default mode).
  • w: Write mode - Opens a file for writing. Creates a new file if it doesn’t exist, or truncates the file if it exists.
  • x: Exclusive creation mode - Opens a file for exclusive creation. Fails if the file already exists.
  • a: Append mode - Opens a file for appending data, creating it if it doesn’t exist.
  • b: Binary mode - Opens a file as a binary file.
  • t: Text mode - Opens a file as a text file (default mode).
  • +: Reading and writing mode - Opens a file for both reading and writing.

Opening a File

To open a file in Python, we use the built-in open() function. The open() function takes two arguments: the file name and the file mode. Here’s an example of opening a file in read mode:

file = open('example.txt', 'r')

In this example, we open a file called “example.txt” in read mode.

Reading Data from a File

Once the file is opened, we can read its contents using various methods provided by Python. The most commonly used method is read(), which reads the entire content of the file as a string. Here’s an example:

file = open('example.txt', 'r')
content =

In this example, we read the contents of the file and print it to the console. It’s essential to close the file using the close() method after we finish reading to free up system resources.

Closing a File

As mentioned earlier, after performing file input operations, it’s crucial to close the file to release system resources. To close a file, we call the close() method on the file object, as shown in the previous examples:


Remember to always close the file after you finish reading or writing data to it.

File Input Examples

Let’s now look at a couple of examples to demonstrate how file input works in Python.

Example 1: Counting the Number of Words in a File

In this example, we will count the number of words in a file. We assume that the file contains text, and words are separated by spaces. Here’s the code:

file = open('text.txt', 'r')
content =
word_count = len(content.split())
print("Number of words in the file:", word_count)

Example 2: Reading a CSV File

Suppose we have a CSV file named “data.csv” that contains data in tabular format. We can use the csv module in Python to read the file and process its contents. Here’s an example code snippet:

import csv
with open('data.csv', 'r') as file:
reader = csv.reader(file)
for row in reader:

In this example, we use the csv.reader() function to read the file and iterate over each row to print its contents.


In this tutorial, we explored the process of opening files and performing file input in Python. We learned about different file modes, opening files using the open() function, reading data from a file, and closing files to release system resources. We also demonstrated two examples of file input operations. By now, you should have a good understanding of how to work with files in Python.