How to read/process command line arguments in Python?

Learn, how to read/process command line arguments in Python programming language?
Submitted by Sapna Deraje Radhakrishna, on March 04, 2020 [Last updated : March 14, 2023]

Reading/Processing Command Line Arguments

The official way of reading or processing the command line arguments is by using the argparse from ArgumentParser module.

The argparse module enables is implementing the user-friendly command-line interfaces. The program defines the arguments it requires, and argparse will ascertain how to parse those out of the sys.argv? The argparse also generates the help and usage messages and issues errors when the users give the program invalid arguments.

Python code to read and process command line arguments

import argparse

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(description='Process the numbers')
parser.add_argument('integers',metavar='N', type=int, nargs='+', help='an integer for addition')
parser.add_argument('--sum',dest='addition', action='store_const', const=sum, default=max, help='sum the integers (default: find the max)')
args = parser.parse_args()

Assuming, we have saved the above method in a file as '', it can be run at the command line and provide helpful messages.

Case 1: Running the method without passing the arguments

    usage: [-h] [--sum] N [N ...] error: the following arguments are required: N

Case 2: Running the method passing the -h as argument

    python -h
    usage: [-h] [--sum] N [N ...]

    Process the numbers

    positional arguments:
      N           an integer for addition

    optional arguments:
      -h, --help  show this help message and exit
      --sum       sum the integers (default: find the max)

Case 3: Running the method passing the numbers (returns max of list of numbers)

    python 1 2 3 4

Case 4: Running the method passing the –sum argument as an argument, along with list of numbers

    python 1 2 3 4 --sum

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