DirAccess in Godot – Complete Guide

Let’s embark on an exciting exploration of the DirAccess class in Godot 4, a powerful feature that any game developer will find handy. Imagine you’re creating a game with multiple levels or scenes; effective file and directory management becomes essential. That’s where DirAccess swoops in to organize, navigate, and manipulate your project files with ease. Throughout this tutorial, we’ll delve into understanding this class, learning its methods, and seeing how it can streamline the file-handling aspect of your game development process. Whether you’re at the onset of your coding adventure or already have some experience under your belt, there’s something here for everyone. So, let’s dive into the world of Godot’s file system.

What is DirAccess?

DirAccess is a class in Godot responsible for directory and file operations. This nifty feature allows developers to create, navigate, and manipulate directories and their contents, even outside the project folder. What’s important to note is that DirAccess cannot be directly instantiated but is created using a static method and given a specific path.

What is DirAccess Used For?

This class is particularly useful for managing game assets and user-generated content such as saved game states, configurations, or level designs. Whether you are adding new scenes on the fly or organizing your game’s structure, DirAccess has got your back.

Why Should I Learn About DirAccess?

Knowing how to work with DirAccess is crucial because:

– It allows for dynamic content management within your Godot project.
– It supports maintaining a clean and efficient file structure, which is vital for larger projects.
– By automating file operations, you can focus more on the creative aspect of game development.
– Understanding this class provides proficiency in standard programming practices involving file and directory manipulation.

Stay with us as we unravel the power of DirAccess through practical coding examples in the following sections. We guarantee that grasping the capabilities of this class will elevate your Godot development skills!

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Getting Started with DirAccess

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s explore how to obtain a DirAccess instance. Although you can’t instantiate it directly, you access it using the Filesystem singleton.

var dir = Directory.new()
if dir.open("res://") == OK:
    # The directory is ready to be manipulated
    print("Failed to open the directory.")

This code snippet creates a new Directory instance and opens the project’s root folder. Checking if the directory opens successfully is a good practice to prevent errors in your code.

Navigating Directories

Navigating through directories is straightforward with DirAccess. Let’s learn how to change the current directory and list its contents.

# Changing the current directory to 'assets'

# Listing all files and directories inside 'assets'
dir.list_dir_begin() # Initialize the listing
var file_name = dir.get_next()
while file_name != "":
    file_name = dir.get_next()
dir.list_dir_end() # Finalize the listing

The change_dir() method shifts the current directory pointer, while get_next() retrieves the next entry in the current directory.

Creating and Removing Directories

Creating new directories or removing existing ones is common when managing a game’s file system. Let’s see how we can do it using DirAccess.

# Creating a new directory named 'new_folder'
if dir.make_dir("res://new_folder") != OK:
    print("Failed to create the directory.")

# Removing an existing directory named 'old_folder'
if dir.remove("res://old_folder") != OK:
    print("Failed to remove the directory.")

The make_dir() method is used to create a new directory, and the remove() method deletes an existing directory or file.

Working with Files

Often, you’ll want to interact with files directly, such as reading or writing data. Here’s how you can use DirAccess with file operations.

# Create or open a file for writing data
var file = File.new()
if file.open("res://user_data.txt", File.WRITE) == OK:
    file.store_string("User data contents")
    print("Failed to write to the file.")

# Open and read the contents of a file
if file.open("res://user_data.txt", File.READ) == OK:
    var contents = file.get_as_text()
    print("Failed to read the file.")

Here, we open a file to write a string using store_string(), and in the second snippet, we open the same file to read its contents.

Stay tuned as we continue to delve into more complex file operations and uncover the true flexibility of the DirAccess class in the next part of our tutorial. These coding patterns are applicable in multiple scenarios and mastering them will significantly boost the efficiency of handling game assets and data within Godot 4.

Moving forward with our exploration of DirAccess, let’s focus on some advanced operations that can save time and lines of code when dealing with files and directories in Godot 4.

Copying and Renaming Files

Often, you’ll need to duplicate or rename files within your project. DirAccess simplifies these actions:

# Copying a file
if dir.copy("res://original.txt", "res://copy_of_original.txt") != OK:
    print("Failed to copy the file.")

# Renaming a file
if dir.rename("res://old_name.txt", "res://new_name.txt") != OK:
    print("Failed to rename the file.")

The copy() method makes a duplicate of the specified file, while the rename() method changes the file’s name.

Checking File Existence

Before performing any operation on a file, it’s essential to know if the file exists to avoid errors:

# Checking if a file exists
if dir.file_exists("res://important_data.txt"):
    print("The file exists.")
    print("The file does not exist.")

Here, file_exists() is used to check the presence of a file in the directory.

Deleting Files

To keep your project clean, you might want to delete unnecessary files. Here’s how you can do that safely:

# Deleting a file
if dir.remove("res://unnecessary_file.txt") != OK:
    print("Failed to delete the file.")

Note that we use the same remove() method for deleting both files and directories.

Working with Complete Directories

Moving beyond single files, DirAccess allows developers to operate on whole directories.

# Creating a directory recursively
if dir.make_dir_recursive("res://new_folder/sub_folder") != OK:
    print("Failed to create directories recursively.")

# Checking if a directory exists
if dir.dir_exists("res://new_folder"):
    print("The directory exists.")

In this snippet, make_dir_recursive() creates all missing directories in the given path, while dir_exists() checks if a directory exists.

Remember that these examples only scratch the surface of what you can achieve with the DirAccess class. With these foundational skills, you can build robust systems for handling user-generated content, modding, and asset management. Be sure to experiment and integrate these functions into your projects to make the most of Godot’s file handling capabilities.

Mastering DirAccess will not only improve your game development workflow but also ensure that your games can manage data effectively, adapting to changes and expansions with ease. Stay creative, and happy coding!

As we delve deeper into the DirAccess class, let’s explore some practical scenarios and how we might use this class to solve common problems encountered during game development.

Getting File Information

Occasionally, you’ll need to retrieve more information about a file, such as its size or modification time. Here’s how you can accomplish that with DirAccess:

# Getting the size of a file
var file_size = dir.get_file_size("res://my_file.txt")
print("The size of the file is:", file_size)

# Getting the modification time of a file
var modification_time = dir.get_modified_time("res://my_file.txt")
print("The file was last modified on:", modification_time)

Using get_file_size() returns the size of the file in bytes, while get_modified_time() returns the last modification UNIX timestamp.

Reading Directory Contents Recursively

For more complex directory structures, you might want to read all files within a directory, including its subdirectories. This is a recursive operation:

func read_dir_recursive(path):
    var filename = dir.get_next()
    while(filename != ""):
        if dir.current_is_dir():
            read_dir_recursive(path.plus_file(filename)) # Recursive call
            print("Found file:", path.plus_file(filename))
        filename = dir.get_next()

# Use the recursive function

In the recursive function read_dir_recursive(), we check if the current directory entry is a directory and then call the function again to dive deeper.

Iterating through directories and their contents this way is incredibly powerful for batch operations, asset loading, or creating an in-game file explorer.

Current Directory Operations

Manipulating the current directory can be essential, especially when you’re performing multiple operations within the same directory:

# Changing the current directory

# Going to the parent directory

# Getting the current directory path
var current_path = dir.get_current_dir()
print("Currently in:", current_path)

The change_dir() method is used both to move to a specific directory and to go up a level with “..”. get_current_dir() provides the absolute path of the current directory.

Using Wildcards to Filter Files

DirAccess allows you to filter files using wildcards, which can be particularly useful when you are interested in files of a specific type or naming pattern:

# List all .txt files
dir.list_dir_begin(true, false)
var a_file = dir.get_next()
while a_file != "":
    if a_file.ends_with(".txt"):
        print("Text file found:", a_file)
    a_file = dir.get_next()

In the example, list_dir_begin() is initialized with parameters to skip navigation entries (like ‘.’ or ‘..’) and to not read hidden files. Then we use a wildcard check with ends_with() to filter out text files. Remember to always finalize the directory listing with list_dir_end().

Commanding the power of DirAccess fully equips you to write efficient, reliable code for managing your game’s file system. With these examples, you have the building blocks needed to create systems that dynamically interact with files and directories within Godot. Integrate these techniques into your projects, and watch as a new level of organization and functionality unfolds before you. Remember to keep experimenting, as that is the key to creating truly engaging experiences with Godot!

Continuing Your Game Development Journey

Embarking on a journey to master Godot 4 and the myriad intricacies of game development is an adventurous and rewarding experience. We’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible with the DirAccess class and the power of managing game files and directories. But there’s so much more to explore and learn.

If you’re eager to delve deeper into game creation with this incredible engine, our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree offers a comprehensive curriculum for budding and experienced developers alike. From understanding fundamental concepts to building your own games using a variety of mechanics and styles, this series of courses provides a structured, project-based learning experience that fits into any schedule.

And for those who wish to explore a broader array of topics within this engine, our complete collection of Godot courses can help you expand your skill set further. Whether you aspire to create 2D platformers, 3D adventures, or anything in between, the resources you need are at your fingertips. In this community-driven, open-source environment, every resource is an opportunity to evolve from a novice to a professional game developer. Enjoy the journey, and let your creativity soar!


Indeed, the journey through Godot’s DirAccess class is indicative of the engine’s potential to harness control and efficiency in your game development endeavors. As you’ve seen, managing files and directories is integral to creating dynamic, responsive games that can engage players on a deeper level. But beyond file management, Godot opens a vast playground for creativity—and mastering its tools, as you’ve begun with DirAccess, is your first step toward transforming your game ideas into reality.

Remember, the knowledge you’ve gained here is a launchpad, not a finish line. We at Zenva are dedicated to supporting and nurturing your growth as a developer every step of the way. If you’re ready to take your skills further, explore our Godot Game Development Mini-Degree and join an active community of learners. Start building, start creating, and most importantly, start playing!

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