with Statement

In Python, performing file operations like reading from or writing to a file requires that you open the file first and then close it when you’re finished. Neglecting to close a file can lead to data loss or corruption.

Introducing the with Statement

The with statement in Python simplifies exception handling by encapsulating common preparation and clean-up tasks. Specifically, in performing file operations, it provides a way to ensure that a file is properly closed after it has been used, even if an error occurs.

The with statement creates a context where the file is available, and at the end of this context, the file is automatically closed, even if an error arises within the context.

Example of with Statement for File Operations

Here is an example of how to use the with statement when working with files:

1with open('example.txt', 'r') as file:
2    data = file.read()

In this example, the with keyword is used before the open() function and it returns a file object, which is assigned to the variable file. The code within the with block is where you put the operations you want to run on the file. After the block is exited (whether normally or due to an exception), the file is automatically closed.

A Graceful Approach to Error Handling

One of the many merits of the with statement is its ability to handle unexpected errors gracefully. An error during file operations, for example, could leave a file in an unknown state or cause data loss. Instead of having to add extensive error-checking code, and ensure every potential error location closes the file, you can use a with statement to ensure the file closes properly, which greatly simplifies the code.


Always make sure to close files, either manually using close() method or automatically using with statement, after you’re done with file operations. Leaving files open may lead to data leaks and other issues.