Python Context Managers Tutorial – Complete Guide

Learning and understanding Python is like learning any other language. You need to master the fundamentals before delving into more complex topics. One such basic but crucial aspect you need to understand when programming in Python is the “context managers.” Stick with us through this article, and we promise to make your coding life a bit easier!

So, What Is A Context Manager?

A context manager in Python is a class that implements the methods __enter__() and __exit__(). These specialized methods provide a way for the coder to manage resources such as files or network connections effectively.

Context managers, although seemingly complex at first glance, are incredibly useful as they help handle acquiring and releasing of resources automatically without the programmer explicitly worrying about them. This leads to cleaner code, less resource leakage, and reduced chance of programming errors. Whether you are a beginner on your coding journey or a seasoned programmer, mastering the use of Python context managers will significantly expedite your coding efficiency.

You may come across multitude of scenarios where resource management becomes crucial, such as reading files, connecting to the database, or even simple game mechanics. That’s where context managers come into play. They offer a simple and elegant solution to manage such resources effectively. They ensure that the resources are properly cleaned up once they are no longer needed. In short, context managers make code more robust, reliable, and easier to read!

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Getting Started with Context Managers

Let’s start by understanding the usage of Python context managers with some common examples.

Example 1: Using Context Managers with File Operations

In Python, the simplest context manager is the file. Here’s how you can read a file using a context manager:

with open('filename.txt') as file:
    read_data =

In this scenario, Python opens the file, assigns it to the variable ‘file’, executes the code block under ‘with’, and then automatically closes the file.

Example 2: Using Context Managers for Exception Handling

A context manager can help reduce the overhead of dealing with try-except-finally blocks when handling exceptions. Here is how you can use it:

    file = open('filename.txt', 'r')

This can be simplified with a context manager as:

with open('filename.txt', 'r') as file:

The context manager ensures that the file is properly closed even if an exception occurs within the block.

Creating Your Own Context Managers

Did you know that you can create your own context managers? Let’s explore this in more detail.

Example 3: Custom Context Manager

Context Managers are created by implementing two special methods, __enter__() and __exit__(). Below is an example of a simple Custom Context Manager:

class CustomContextManager:
    def __enter__(self):
        return self
    def __exit__(self, exc_type, exc_val, exc_tb):

Example 4: Practical Usage of Custom Context Manager

Let’s create a practical context manager for managing database connections. Here’s how you can make it:

class DBConnectionManager:
    def __init__(self, hostname, port):
        self.hostname = hostname
        self.port = port
    def __enter__(self):
        self.conn = create_database_connection(self.hostname, self.port)
        return self.conn
    def __exit__(self, exc_type, exc_val, exc_tb):

In this scenario, the database connection opened in the __enter__ method is automatically closed by __exit__ method once it is no longer needed. It not only ensures that the resources are properly handled but also makes the code cleaner and more readable.

More Examples of Python Context Managers

Let’s dive into more practical examples of context managers.

Example 5: Lock Management in Multithreading

In multithreading, locks are used to avoid race conditions. Traditionally, you would accomplish this by acquiring the lock before critical section and releasing it afterwards. Context managers can simplify this:

from threading import Lock
lock = Lock()

# Traditional way
   # Critical section

# Using context manager
with lock:
   # Critical section

In the second part, where we use the context manager, the lock is automatically released at the end of ‘with’ block.

Example 6: Temporary Change of System Output

If you need to temporarily redirect system output to a file, you can handle this beautifully with a context manager:

import sys

class redirect_output_to_file:
    def __init__(self, filename):
        self.filename = filename
    def __enter__(self):
        self.original_stdout = sys.stdout
        sys.stdout = open(self.filename, 'w')
    def __exit__(self, exc_type, exc_val, exc_tb):
        sys.stdout = self.original_stdout

filename = 'output.txt'
with redirect_output_to_file(filename):
    print('This will be written to the file.')
print('This will be printed on the console.')

Here, ‘print’ statements within the ‘with’ block are written to the file ‘output.txt’. After the block, the ‘print’ statement is sent back to the console.

Example 7: Timing Code Execution

Context managers make it easy to measure the execution time of a block of code:

import time

class TimerManager:
    def __init__(self, label):
        self.label = label
    def __enter__(self):
        self.start = time.time()
    def __exit__(self, exc_type, exc_val, exc_tb):
        end = time.time()
        print('{}: {}'.format(self.label, end - self.start))

with TimerManager('Time taken'):
    # Block of code to time

In the ‘with’ block, replace “# Block of code to time” with the code you want to measure the execution time for.

Where to Go Next?

Now that you’ve understood the basics of Python’s context managers, where should you go next on your programming journey? The answer is clear – further empower your understanding of Python and its application!

We recommend checking out our Python Mini-Degree program. This comprehensive collection of courses will deepen your knowledge and expand your practical skills in Python programming.

Python is celebrated for its simple syntax and versatility across various applications. The breadth of topics covered in this mini-degree is diverse, ranging from coding basics and algorithm development to object-oriented programming. You will also dive deep into game and app development, learning through hands-on projects and practical application of your skills.

Unique to this program, as you navigate our Python mini-degree, you will be creating your own games, designing algorithms, and building real-world applications. The result? A portfolio filled with tangible, Python projects that can not only showcase your newfound abilities but also enhance your career opportunities across diverse industries!

The beauty about learning with us at Zenva is that we cater to all levels. Whether you are a novice with zero coding experience or a seasoned programmer looking to enhance your skills, our program is tailored to meet your needs.

Learning opportunities for intermediate users don’t stop here! We also have a range of other specialized Python courses that could be the perfect next step for your programming journey. The best part? All of these can be completed at your own pace.


Context managers, despite their initial complexity, can greatly simplify your Python programming journey. From utilizing resources effectively to getting cleaner, more streamlined code, mastering context managers undoubtedly gives you an edge in your programming proficiency. There’s no better investment than investing in mastering a skill that pays off each time you code.

Join us today at Zenva and embark on your journey to mastering Python with our comprehensive Python Mini-Degree program. Take your programming abilities a step further. Let’s code smarter and more efficiently together!

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