I am trying to use ExternalEvaluate for a Python session. For some reason I cannot import a file from there that I can import successfully when I call python some other way. I already verified that the current working directory in python is the correct one. I also added the directory to the path in two ways because it solved a similar issue here https://mathematica.stackexchange.com/a/185587/45020. For example the following outputs the correct directory (twice) and indeed the file I am trying to load is listed in the os.listdir() output.

s = StartExternalSession["Python"];
ExternalEvaluate[s, "import os"];
ExternalEvaluate[s, "os.getcwd()"]
ExternalEvaluate[s, "os.chdir(" <> Directory[] <> ")"];
ExternalEvaluate[s, "sys.path.insert(1, '')"];
ExternalEvaluate[s, "os.getcwd()"]
ExternalEvaluate[s, "sys.path.insert(os.getcwd())"];
ExternalEvaluate[s, "os.listdir()"]
ExternalEvaluate[s, "import filenameWithoutPYExtension"]

I still get the no module named 'filenameWithoutPYExtension' error though.


1 Answer 1


In Mathematica 12.2 Directory[] returns the Documents folder in windows, instead of that use NotebookDirectory[] to get your notebook directory. In python, for importing files from unknown directories you can use sys library:

s = StartExternalSession["Python"];

 "import sys;sys.path.append(" <> 
  ExportString[NotebookDirectory[], "PythonExpression"] <> ")"]

ExternalEvaluate[s, "import filenameWithoutPYExtension"]


Also see this post.

Another point is you can use ; to run multiple lines in python:

ExternalEvaluate["Python", "import os;os.getcwd()"]

(*Out: "C:\\Users\\USERNAME\\Documents" *)

While passing strings to python directly, having single \ is problematic, for this reason, I use ToString[..., InputForm] which replace \ with \\. Using ExportString[..., "PythonExpression"] is a better option so I replace it with that.

  • $\begingroup$ Of course Directory[] returns the current (MMA) working directory, which might by Documents by default. In this case I had set it to NotebookDirectory[] so I will edit the question to clarify this. I do think you give the correct answer when you say that I should run ExternalEvaluate[s, "import sys;sys.path.append(" <> ToString[NotebookDirectory[], InputForm] <> ")"]. So perhaps you can explain why I had to add the full path like this. $\endgroup$
    – Kvothe
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 14:01

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