Fix Python – Test if executable exists in Python?


Asked By – Piotr Lesnicki

In Python, is there a portable and simple way to test if an executable program exists?

By simple I mean something like the which command which would be just perfect. I don’t want to search PATH manually or something involving trying to execute it with Popen & al and see if it fails (that’s what I’m doing now, but imagine it’s launchmissiles)

Now we will see solution for issue: Test if executable exists in Python?


Easiest way I can think of:

def which(program):
    import os
    def is_exe(fpath):
        return os.path.isfile(fpath) and os.access(fpath, os.X_OK)

    fpath, fname = os.path.split(program)
    if fpath:
        if is_exe(program):
            return program
        for path in os.environ["PATH"].split(os.pathsep):
            exe_file = os.path.join(path, program)
            if is_exe(exe_file):
                return exe_file

    return None

Edit: Updated code sample to include logic for handling case where provided argument is already a full path to the executable, i.e. “which /bin/ls”. This mimics the behavior of the UNIX ‘which’ command.

Edit: Updated to use os.path.isfile() instead of os.path.exists() per comments.

Edit: path.strip('"') seems like the wrong thing to do here. Neither Windows nor POSIX appear to encourage quoted PATH items.

This question is answered By – Jay

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