How to Fix "python: can‘t open file ‘‘: [Errno 2] No such file or directory" – A Comprehensive Guide

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As a fellow tech geek and Python developer, I totally get how frustrating that "can‘t open file ‘‘" error can be. You‘re just trying to run your Django server or make some migrations, and boom—Python throws this cryptic error saying your file doesn‘t exist. Not cool, Python. Not cool.

But don‘t worries my friends, this is a super common issue that every Pythonista runs into at some point. The good news is, it‘s usually a quick fix! In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you through all the possible causes of the "can‘t open" error and show you how to troubleshoot step-by-step.

Stick with me, and we‘ll have you up and running again in no time. Let‘s do this!

Overview: Why Am I Seeing This Error?

When you create a new Django project, Django automatically generates a file for you. This file contains helper scripts that let you run various management commands for your project—things like running the dev server, creating migrations, running tests, etc.

Python expects to find this file in the top-level directory of your project. So if you try running a command like:

python runserver

…and Python can‘t find the file there, you‘ll see this error:

python: can‘t open file ‘‘: [Errno 2] No such file or directory

There are a few common reasons why Python might not be able to find or open

  • You deleted – Maybe you were tidying up your project folder and accidentally deleted it?

  • You renamed – For example, to or something else.

  • You moved – Like putting it in a sub-folder instead of the project root.

  • Typo in the file name – Like calling it or managpy. Sneaky typos!

  • Permission error – The file exists, but Python doesn‘t have permission to open/read it.

The good news is, all of these issues can be fixed pretty easily. So let‘s walk through how to diagnose and troubleshoot each one!

Step 1: Check You‘re in the Right Directory

The first thing to check is that you‘re running the python command from the correct directory.

You‘ll want to be in the top-level project folder—the one that contains

So open up your terminal, navigate to your project root, and run an ls command to list the contents. You should see in the output:

Macbook:~/projects/myproject$ ls requirements.txt ...

If you don‘t see listed, you‘re likely in the wrong folder! Use cd to navigate to the correct project root directory and try again.

Step 2: Verify Exists

Okay, assuming you‘re in the right directory, let‘s check that the file does actually exist here.

Run an ls command and inspect the output to see if is listed.

If not, it likely means the file has been deleted or moved somewhere else accidentally. We‘ll cover how to fix that next.

Step 3: Check for Renames or Typos

If is missing, it‘s possible you (or someone else) renamed it to something else inadvertently.

Carefully inspect the files in your project root and see if any look like they could be a renamed

For example:

  • managpy

Typos are very sneaky! Double check the filename, correct any typos, and rename it back to if needed.

You can rename a file on Linux/macOS using:


And on Windows:


Now when you run ls again, should appear. On to the next step!

Step 4: Move Back to Project Root

Another possibility is that exists, but it‘s located in a subdirectory instead of the project root.

Maybe you accidentally moved it while organizing files, or it ended up in the wrong spot when cloning a repo.

No worries – we can easily move it back.

First, find where is located. Search your entire project directory if needed:

find . -name ""

Once you‘ve located it, move it back to the project root using mv:

mv subfolder/ .

The . specifies to move it to the current directory, which should be your project root if you followed step 1.

Double check with ls that is now in the right spot, and you should be set!

Step 5: Check File Permissions

One last potential issue – a permission problem could prevent Python from being able to open, even if it‘s there.

On Linux/macOS, run:

ls -l

And make sure you have read and execute permissions on the file.

If not, update permissions:

chmod +rx

And verify again with ls -l that it worked.

With permissions set properly, the error should disappear!

Step 6: Try Running Again!

Okay, we‘ve covered a ton of potential fixes:

  • Navigating to the correct directory
  • Checking exists
  • Fixing typos/renames
  • Moving it back to project root
  • Setting file permissions

With any luck, those steps resolved your "can‘t open" issue!

Try running your command again:

python runserver

And it should now work perfectly! Welcome back 🙂

If not, here are a few other quick things to check:

  • Make sure your virtual environment is activated
  • Check you‘re using the right Python version
  • Try the full path like python /full/path/to/ runserver

And drop me a comment if you‘re still stuck – happy to help troubleshoot!

Hope this guide helped explain the common "can‘t open" errors and how to fix them. Thanks for sticking with me. Now let‘s get back to coding!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.