I wrote a simple script to rename about 15 shapefiles in a folder on our local server. When I tested it I was working on a workspace on the C:\ and it worked fine. All our data is on a local server and when I changed the pathname to (... arcpy.env.workspace = "P:\Alabama\Export") it did not work. I eventually have to use 20 or so diff paths so I don't want to have to copy data to my c drive.

As I read through examples they all seem to use something on C:.

I am running it in the Python window in ArcCatalog not on an IDE


import arcpy

arcpy.env.workspace = "P:\Alabama\Export"

 if arcpy.Exists("Histori2.shp"):
    arcpy.Rename_management("Histori2.shp", "H_BEV_CANS.shp")

 if arcpy.Exists("Histori3.shp"):
     arcpy.Rename_management("Histori3.shp", "H_CANS.shp")
  • C: is just the standard drive letter, so that is why it is used for examples.
    – Paul
    Aug 8, 2013 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


In Python, the backslash character is treated as an escape character. \n is the newline character, \t is a tab....

There are a few different ways you can get it to work:

  1. Change your backslashes to forward slashes (Python accepts either). "P:/Alabama/Export"
  2. Double your backslashes (escape the escape). "P:\\Alabama\\Export"
  3. Format as raw string (escape characters are ignored). r"P:\Alabama\Export"
  • 5
    I'm a fan of 3, since it's easy to do r'' and copy/paste a raw path from the File Explorer path. Super quick and easy.
    – Mike T
    Aug 8, 2013 at 22:13
  • 6
    +1 @Mike Toews. And in case anyone didn't know the "super trick" for copying the full path and filename of a file from Windows Explorer, SHIFT + (Right-click) on a file provides a normally "hidden" extra option to "Copy as Path". Aug 8, 2013 at 23:03
  • 1
    @RyanDalton that's a really strange option to hide in a extra menu.
    – Nathan W
    Aug 8, 2013 at 23:41
  • 2
    WHAAAAT?! Gosh, and here I was right clicking and navigating through the tabs, highlighting the object name. Why in the world isn't this in the normal right click?
    – Paul
    Aug 8, 2013 at 23:42
  • You can get a shell extension called Copy Path that adds the item directly to the context menu and works on XP as well as 7. Such a huge timesaver.
    – blah238
    Aug 9, 2013 at 2:45

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