How to Save Python Files in the Same Directory in VS Code (Update)

In a recent post I gave a programmatic solution to how to get Python to write files in the same folder as the Python file itself when working in VS Code. By default, Python programs in VS Code write files in the root folder of the project, not in the folder where the Python file is saved.

My solution involved the use of a built-in variable named “__file__“, which together with some fancy path concatenation, achieved what I was hoping for.

The image is a screenshot of a Python script displayed in a dark-themed code editor. The script imports the `os` module, retrieves the current working directory, creates a file path that includes the current working directory, and writes "Hello, World!" to a file named "filename.txt". The code editor appears to be on a Mac operating system, indicated by the three colored buttons (red, yellow, green) at the top left corner of the window. The code is written in white and green text against a dark background for better readability. Each major step of the code is explained with comments in green. The Python commands follow each comment, executing these steps. The overall image provides a clear view of the Python code and its functionality.

When I posted this on social media I got a response from on Mastodon with an even better solution:


"cwd": "${fileDirname}",

to your vscode launch configuration should avoid this.

Perfect! Now I just needed to figure out how to do that!

Over to Microsoft’s Copilot with the question:

How do I add a line to my VS Code launch configuration? I want to add “cwd”:”${fileDirname}”,

To add a line to your VS Code launch configuration, you need to edit the launch.json file under the .vscode folder in your project. You can use one of the following techniques to open and modify the file:

  • Use IntelliSense if your cursor is located inside the configurations array. Press the Add Configuration button to invoke snippet IntelliSense at the start of the array.
  • Choose Add Configuration option in the Run menu.
  • Search for the workbench.action.debug.selectandstart command in the command palette and change the keybinding.

Once you have the launch.json file open, you can add the line "cwd": "${fileDirname}" to the configuration that you want to use. This will set the current working directory to the directory of the file being debugged.

That wasn’t going to work because I didn’t have a launch.json file yet. Back to Copilot…

I don’t have a launch.json file.

No problem, you can create a launch.json file easily by following these steps:

  • In VS Code, open the Run view by clicking the bug icon in the Activity Bar on the side of VS Code.
  • Click the create a launch.json file link in the Run view.
  • VS Code will try to automatically detect your debug environment, but if this fails, you will have to choose it manually from a list of available options.
  • Once the launch.json file is created, you can add the line "cwd": "${fileDirname}" to the configuration that you want to use, as explained in my previous message.

I hope this helps you with your debugging. Happy coding! 😊

A few minutes to walk through that, then a quick test with my Python program…

# Create a new text file called hello.txt
with open("hello.txt", "w") as f:
# Write the string "Hello world" to the file
f.write("Hello world")

…in a subfolder got me the results I wanted—that is, the file hello.txt in the same folder as my Python program!

Success! Social media for the win! (for once…)

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