An absolute path is a file path that specifies the exact location of a file or directory, regardless of the current working directory. In contrast to a relative path, an absolute path always starts from the root directory and includes the complete hierarchy of directories, subdirectories, and file names needed to locate a file.
An absolute path typically begins with the root directory symbol (e.g. “/” on Unix-based systems, or “C:” on Windows systems), followed by the names of each directory in the path, separated by forward slashes or backslashes, until the desired file or directory is reached.
For example, on a Unix-based system, the absolute path to a file named “file.txt” located in the “docs” directory within the “example” directory in the home directory might look like this:
On a Windows system, the equivalent absolute path might look like this:
Absolute paths are useful in many different contexts, such as when specifying the location of a file to be used as an input for a command line tool, or when linking to a file from within an HTML document. They are particularly important in web development, where the use of relative paths can result in broken links or unexpected behavior if the location of the file changes relative to the document that references it.
When working with absolute paths, it’s important to be aware of the different path syntax and root directory symbols used on different operating systems. For cross-platform compatibility, it’s often best to use platform-independent file path libraries that can handle the differences between operating systems for you.