Work with data files in Azure Notebooks Preview projects

Data is the lifeblood of many Jupyter notebooks, especially notebooks used for data science. With Azure Notebooks, you can easily import from a variety of sources into a project, and then use that data from notebooks. You can also have notebooks generate data that's stored in the project, which you can then download for use elsewhere.


Azure Notebooks is currently in public preview. This preview version is provided without a service level agreement, and it's not recommended for production workloads. Certain features might not be supported or might have constrained capabilities. For more information, see Supplemental Terms of Use for Microsoft Azure Previews.

The Data menu within a running notebook also provides Upload and Download commands, which work with files in the project as well as temporary files for the current notebook session.

You can also use code within a notebook to access a variety of data sources directly, including files within a project. You can also access arbitrary data by using commands in a code cell. Because such data is stored in variables within the notebook session, it won't be saved in the project unless you use code to specifically generate project files.

Working with code in data is best experienced within a running notebook itself: for that purpose, refer to the Getting to your data in Azure Notebooks sample notebook.

The remainder of this article provides details on project-level file operations.

Import data

You can bring files into a project from the project dashboard, or within a running notebook using either the Data menu or a command such as curl.

Import files from the project dashboard

  1. In the project, navigate to the folder where you want to import the files.

  2. Select the Upload command, then either From URL or From computer and project the necessary details for the data you want to import:

    • From URL: Enter the source address in the File URL field and the filename to assign to the notebook in your project in the File Name field. Then select + Add File to add the URL to the upload list. Repeat the process for any additional URLs, then select Done.

      Upload from URL popup

    • From computer: Drag and drop files into the popup, or select Choose Files, then browse to and select the data files you want to import. You can drop or choose any number of files, of any type and format because it's up to the code in the notebook to open the file and parse its data.

      Upload from computer popup

  3. Once imported, files appear on the project dashboard and can be accessed within notebook code using relative pathnames to the containing folder.

Import files from the File menu in a notebook

  1. Within a running notebook, select the File > Upload command:

    File Upload menu command within a notebook

  2. In the dialog box that opens, navigate to and select the files you want to upload. You can select any number of files of any type. Select Open when done.

  3. In the Upload status popup that appears, select a Destination Folder from the drop-down list:

    • Session folder (~/ ): Uploads files into the current notebook session but doesn't create files in the project. The session folder is a peer to the project folder, but doesn't persist after the session ends. To access session files in code, prefix the filenames with the relative path ../.

      Using the session folder is helpful for experimentation and avoids cluttering the project with files you may or may not need on a long-term basis. You can also upload files to the session folder that have identical names to files in the project without causing conflicts and without having to rename the files. For example, say you have one version of data.csv in the project already, but want to experiment with a different version of data.csv. By uploading the file into the session folder, you can run the notebook using data in the uploaded file (referring to it in code using ../data.csv) rather than the data in the project's file.

    • Project folder (/project): uploads files into the project where they can be accessed using relative pathnames in code. Uploading a file to this folder is the same as uploading a file on the project dashboard. The file is saved with the project and is available in later sessions.

      Uploading fails if you try to upload a file with the same name as one that already exists in the project. To overwrite a file, upload the new file from the project dashboard instead, which gives you the option to overwrite.

  4. Select Start Upload to complete the process.

Create or import files using commands

You can use commands within a terminal or within a Python code cell to create files within both the project and session folders. For example, commands like curl and wget download files from the Internet directly.

To download files in the terminal, select the Terminal command on the project dashboard, then enter suitable commands:

curl -o oil_price.csv

wget -o oil_price.csv

When using a Python code cell in a notebook, prefix the commands with !.

The project folder is the default folder, so specifying a destination filename like oil_price.csv creates the file in the project. To create a session file, prefix the name with ../ as in ../oil_price.csv.

Create files in code

When using code that creates a file, such as the pandas write_csv function, pathnames are always relative to the project folder. Using ../ creates a session file that's discarded when the notebook is halted and closed.

Export files

You can export data from the project dashboard or from within a notebook.

Export files from the project dashboard

On the project dashboard, right-click a file and select Download:

Download command on project item context menu

You can also select a file and use the Download command (keyboard shortcut: d) on the dashboard:

Download toolbar command on project dashboard

Export files from the Data menu in a notebook

  1. Select the File > Download menu command:

    Data Download menu command within a notebook

  2. A popup appears that shows the folders in the session; the project folder contains the project files:

    Data Download command popup in which you select files and folders

  3. Select the boxes to the left of the files and folders you want to download, then select Download Selected.

  4. The notebook prepares a single .zip file containing the selected files, which you then save as you normally do from your browser. The notebook creates a .zip file even when you download a single file.

Next steps