27.8. atexit — Exit handlers

The atexit module defines functions to register and unregister cleanup functions. Functions thus registered are automatically executed upon normal interpreter termination. The order in which the functions are called is not defined; if you have cleanup operations that depend on each other, you should wrap them in a function and register that one. This keeps atexit simple.

Note: the functions registered via this module are not called when the program is killed by a signal not handled by Python, when a Python fatal internal error is detected, or when os._exit() is called.

atexit.register(func, *args, **kargs)

Register func as a function to be executed at termination. Any optional arguments that are to be passed to func must be passed as arguments to register(). It is possible to register the same function and arguments more than once.

At normal program termination (for instance, if sys.exit() is called or the main module’s execution completes), all functions registered are called in last in, first out order. The assumption is that lower level modules will normally be imported before higher level modules and thus must be cleaned up later.

If an exception is raised during execution of the exit handlers, a traceback is printed (unless SystemExit is raised) and the exception information is saved. After all exit handlers have had a chance to run the last exception to be raised is re-raised.

This function returns func, which makes it possible to use it as a decorator.


Remove func from the list of functions to be run at interpreter shutdown. After calling unregister(), func is guaranteed not to be called when the interpreter shuts down, even if it was registered more than once. unregister() silently does nothing if func was not previously registered.

See also

Module readline
Useful example of atexit to read and write readline history files.

27.8.1. atexit Example

The following simple example demonstrates how a module can initialize a counter from a file when it is imported and save the counter’s updated value automatically when the program terminates without relying on the application making an explicit call into this module at termination.

    _count = int(open("counter").read())
except IOError:
    _count = 0

def incrcounter(n):
    global _count
    _count = _count + n

def savecounter():
    open("counter", "w").write("%d" % _count)

import atexit

Positional and keyword arguments may also be passed to register() to be passed along to the registered function when it is called:

def goodbye(name, adjective):
    print('Goodbye, %s, it was %s to meet you.' % (name, adjective))

import atexit
atexit.register(goodbye, 'Donny', 'nice')

# or:
atexit.register(goodbye, adjective='nice', name='Donny')

Usage as a decorator:

import atexit

def goodbye():
    print("You are now leaving the Python sector.")

This only works with functions that can be called without arguments.

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