How do I unload (reload) a Python module? How do I unload (reload) a Python module? python python

How do I unload (reload) a Python module?


You can reload a module when it has already been imported by using the reload builtin function (Python 3.4+ only):

from importlib import reload  import foowhile True:    # Do some things.    if is_changed(foo):        foo = reload(foo)

In Python 3, reload was moved to the imp module. In 3.4, imp was deprecated in favor of importlib, and reload was added to the latter. When targeting 3 or later, either reference the appropriate module when calling reload or import it.

I think that this is what you want. Web servers like Django's development server use this so that you can see the effects of your code changes without restarting the server process itself.

To quote from the docs:

Python modules’ code is recompiled and the module-level code reexecuted, defining a new set of objects which are bound to names in the module’s dictionary. The init function of extension modules is not called a second time. As with all other objects in Python the old objects are only reclaimed after their reference counts drop to zero. The names in the module namespace are updated to point to any new or changed objects. Other references to the old objects (such as names external to the module) are not rebound to refer to the new objects and must be updated in each namespace where they occur if that is desired.

As you noted in your question, you'll have to reconstruct Foo objects if the Foo class resides in the foo module.


In Python 3.0–3.3 you would use: imp.reload(module)

The BDFL has answered this question.

However, imp was deprecated in 3.4, in favour of importlib (thanks @Stefan!).

I think, therefore, you’d now use importlib.reload(module), although I’m not sure.


It can be especially difficult to delete a module if it is not pure Python.

Here is some information from: How do I really delete an imported module?

You can use sys.getrefcount() to find out the actual number of references.

>>> import sys, empty, os>>> sys.getrefcount(sys)9>>> sys.getrefcount(os)6>>> sys.getrefcount(empty)3

Numbers greater than 3 indicate that it will be hard to get rid of the module. The homegrown "empty" (containing nothing) module should be garbage collected after

>>> del sys.modules["empty"]>>> del empty

as the third reference is an artifact of the getrefcount() function.


matomo