How to process file upload in HTML forms using Python Django framework

Django is a Python-based free and open-source web framework, which follows the model-template-view architectural pattern. It is maintained by the Django Software Foundation. Django’s primary goal is to ease the creation of complex, database-driven websites.
With Django, you can take Web applications from concept to launch in a matter of hours. Django takes care of much of the hassle of Web development, so you can focus on writing your app without needing to reinvent the wheel. It’s free and open source.
Django includes dozens of extras you can use to handle common Web development tasks. Django takes care of user authentication, content administration, site maps, RSS feeds, and many more tasks — right out of the box.

In this recipe you will learn the concepts behind Django file upload and how to handle file upload using model forms.

The Basics of File Upload With Django
When files are submitted to the server, the file data ends up placed in request.FILES.
It is mandatory for the HTML form to have the attribute enctype=”multipart/form-data” set correctly. Otherwise the request.FILES will be empty.
The form must be submitted using the POST method.
Django have proper model fields to handle uploaded files: FileField and ImageField.
The files uploaded to FileField or ImageField are not stored in the database but in the filesystem.
FileField and ImageField are created as a string field in the database (usually VARCHAR), containing the reference to the actual file.
If you delete a model instance containing FileField or ImageField, Django will not delete the physical file, but only the reference to the file.
The request.FILES is a dictionary-like object. Each key in request.FILES is the name from the <input type=”file” name=”” />.
Each value in request.FILES is an UploadedFile instance.
You will need to set MEDIA_URL and MEDIA_ROOT in your project’s
MEDIA_URL = ‘/media/’
MEDIA_ROOT = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, ‘media’)

In the development server you may serve the user uploaded files (media) using django.contrib.staticfiles.views.serve() view.
from django.conf import settings
from django.conf.urls.static import static

urlpatterns = [
# Project url patterns…

if settings.DEBUG:
urlpatterns += static(settings.MEDIA_URL, document_root=settings.MEDIA_ROOT)

To access the MEDIA_URL in template you must add to yourcontext_processeors inside the TEMPLATES config.

Simple File Upload
Following is a minimal file upload example using FileSystemStorage. Use it just to learn about the flow of the process.
{% extends ‘base.html’ %}

{% load static %}

{% block content %}
<form method=”post” enctype=”multipart/form-data”>
{% csrf_token %}
<input type=”file” name=”myfile”>
<button type=”submit”>Upload</button>

{% if uploaded_file_url %}
<p>File uploaded at: <a href=”{{ uploaded_file_url }}”>{{ uploaded_file_url }}</a></p>
{% endif %}

<p><a href=”{% url ‘home’ %}”>Return to home</a></p>
{% endblock %}
from django.shortcuts import render
from django.conf import settings
from import FileSystemStorage

def simple_upload(request):
if request.method == ‘POST’ and request.FILES[‘myfile’]:
myfile = request.FILES[‘myfile’]
fs = FileSystemStorage()
filename =, myfile)
uploaded_file_url = fs.url(filename)
return render(request, ‘core/simple_upload.html’, {
‘uploaded_file_url’: uploaded_file_url
return render(request, ‘core/simple_upload.html’)

File Upload With Model Forms
Now, this is a way more convenient way. Model forms perform validation, automatically builds the absolute path for the upload, treats filename conflicts and other common tasks.
from django.db import models

class Document(models.Model):
description = models.CharField(max_length=255, blank=True)
document = models.FileField(upload_to=‘documents/’)
uploaded_at = models.DateTimeField(auto_now_add=True)
from django import forms
from uploads.core.models import Document

class DocumentForm(forms.ModelForm):
class Meta:
model = Document
fields = (‘description’, ‘document’, )
def model_form_upload(request):
if request.method == ‘POST’:
form = DocumentForm(request.POST, request.FILES)
if form.is_valid():
return redirect(‘home’)
form = DocumentForm()
return render(request, ‘core/model_form_upload.html’, {
‘form’: form

{% extends ‘base.html’ %}

{% block content %}
<form method=”post” enctype=”multipart/form-data”>
{% csrf_token %}
{{ form.as_p }}
<button type=”submit”>Upload</button>

<p><a href=”{% url ‘home’ %}”>Return to home</a></p>
{% endblock %}

About the FileField upload_to Parameter
See the example below:
document = models.FileField(upload_to=‘documents/’)
Note the upload_to parameter. The files will be automatically uploaded to MEDIA_ROOT/documents/.
It is also possible to do something like:
document = models.FileField(upload_to=‘documents/%Y/%m/%d/’)
A file uploaded today would be uploaded to MEDIA_ROOT/documents/2016/08/01/.
The upload_to can also be a callable that returns a string. This callable accepts two parameters, instance andfilename.
def user_directory_path(instance, filename):
# file will be uploaded to MEDIA_ROOT/user_<id>/<filename>
return ‘user_{0}/{1}’.format(, filename)

class MyModel(models.Model):
upload = models.FileField(upload_to=user_directory_path)


In this step-by-step tutorial, you learn how to use Python Django to process file upload on HTML forms. We also reviewed how Django model-template-view architectural pattern works.