unittest.mock — getting started

Added in version 3.3.

Using Mock

Mock Patching Methods

Common uses for Mock objects include:

  • Patching methods

  • Recording method calls on objects

You might want to replace a method on an object to check that it is called with the correct arguments by another part of the system:

>>> real = SomeClass()
>>> real.method = MagicMock(name='method')
>>> real.method(3, 4, 5, key='value')
<MagicMock name='method()' id='...'>

Once our mock has been used (real.method in this example) it has methods and attributes that allow you to make assertions about how it has been used.


In most of these examples the Mock and MagicMock classes are interchangeable. As the MagicMock is the more capable class it makes a sensible one to use by default.

Once the mock has been called its called attribute is set to True. More importantly we can use the assert_called_with() or assert_called_once_with() method to check that it was called with the correct arguments.

This example tests that calling ProductionClass().method results in a call to the something method:

>>> class ProductionClass:
...     def method(self):
...         self.something(1, 2, 3)
...     def something(self, a, b, c):
...         pass
>>> real = ProductionClass()
>>> real.something = MagicMock()
>>> real.method()
>>> real.something.assert_called_once_with(1, 2, 3)

Mock for Method Calls on an Object

In the last example we patched a method directly on an object to check that it was called correctly. Another common use case is to pass an object into a method (or some part of the system under test) and then check that it is used in the correct way.

The simple ProductionClass below has a closer method. If it is called with an object then it calls close on it.

>>> class ProductionClass:
...     def closer(self, something):
...         something.close()

So to test it we need to pass in an object with a close method and check that it was called correctly.

>>> real = ProductionClass()
>>> mock = Mock()
>>> real.closer(mock)
>>> mock.close.assert_called_with()

We don’t have to do any work to provide the ‘close’ method on our mock. Accessing close creates it. So, if ‘close’ hasn’t already been called then accessing it in the test will create it, but assert_called_with() will raise a failure exception.

Mocking Classes

A common use case is to mock out classes instantiated by your code under test. When you patch a class, then that class is replaced with a mock. Instances are created by calling the class. This means you access the “mock instance” by looking at the return value of the mocked class.

In the example below we have a function some_function that instantiates Foo and calls a method on it. The call to patch() replaces the class Foo with a mock. The Foo instance is the result of calling the mock, so it is configured by modifying the mock return_value.

>>> def some_function():
...     instance = module.Foo()
...     return instance.method()
>>> with patch('module.Foo') as mock:
...     instance = mock.return_value
...     instance.method.return_value = 'the result'
...     result = some_function()
...     assert result == 'the result'

Naming your mocks

It can be useful to give your mocks a name. The name is shown in the repr of the mock and can be helpful when the mock appears in test failure messages. The name is also propagated to attributes or methods of the mock:

>>> mock = MagicMock(name='foo')
>>> mock
<MagicMock name='foo' id='...'>
>>> mock.method
<MagicMock name='foo.method' id='...'>

Tracking all Calls

Often you want to track more than a single call to a method. The mock_calls attribute records all calls to child attributes of the mock - and also to their children.

>>> mock = MagicMock()
>>> mock.method()
<MagicMock name='mock.method()' id='...'>
>>> mock.attribute.method(10, x=53)
<MagicMock name='mock.attribute.method()' id='...'>
>>> mock.mock_calls
[call.method(), call.attribute.method(10, x=53)]

If you make an assertion about mock_calls and any unexpected methods have been called, then the assertion will fail. This is useful because as well as asserting that the calls you expected have been made, you are also checking that they were made in the right order and with no additional calls:

You use the call object to construct lists for comparing with mock_calls:

>>> expected = [call.method(), call.attribute.method(10, x=53)]
>>> mock.mock_calls == expected

However, parameters to calls that return mocks are not recorded, which means it is not possible to track nested calls where the parameters used to create ancestors are important:

>>> m = Mock()
>>> m.factory(important=True).deliver()
<Mock name='mock.factory().deliver()' id='...'>
>>> m.mock_calls[-1] == call.factory(important=False).deliver()

Setting Return Values and Attributes

Setting the return values on a mock object is trivially easy:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> mock.return_value = 3
>>> mock()

Of course you can do the same for methods on the mock:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> mock.method.return_value = 3
>>> mock.method()

The return value can also be set in the constructor:

>>> mock = Mock(return_value=3)
>>> mock()

If you need an attribute setting on your mock, just do it:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> mock.x = 3
>>> mock.x

Sometimes you want to mock up a more complex situation, like for example mock.connection.cursor().execute("SELECT 1"). If we wanted this call to return a list, then we have to configure the result of the nested call.

We can use call to construct the set of calls in a “chained call” like this for easy assertion afterwards:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> cursor = mock.connection.cursor.return_value
>>> cursor.execute.return_value = ['foo']
>>> mock.connection.cursor().execute("SELECT 1")
>>> expected = call.connection.cursor().execute("SELECT 1").call_list()
>>> mock.mock_calls
[call.connection.cursor(), call.connection.cursor().execute('SELECT 1')]
>>> mock.mock_calls == expected

It is the call to .call_list() that turns our call object into a list of calls representing the chained calls.

Raising exceptions with mocks

A useful attribute is side_effect. If you set this to an exception class or instance then the exception will be raised when the mock is called.

>>> mock = Mock(side_effect=Exception('Boom!'))
>>> mock()
Traceback (most recent call last):
Exception: Boom!

Side effect functions and iterables

side_effect can also be set to a function or an iterable. The use case for side_effect as an iterable is where your mock is going to be called several times, and you want each call to return a different value. When you set side_effect to an iterable every call to the mock returns the next value from the iterable:

>>> mock = MagicMock(side_effect=[4, 5, 6])
>>> mock()
>>> mock()
>>> mock()

For more advanced use cases, like dynamically varying the return values depending on what the mock is called with, side_effect can be a function. The function will be called with the same arguments as the mock. Whatever the function returns is what the call returns:

>>> vals = {(1, 2): 1, (2, 3): 2}
>>> def side_effect(*args):
...     return vals[args]
>>> mock = MagicMock(side_effect=side_effect)
>>> mock(1, 2)
>>> mock(2, 3)

Mocking asynchronous iterators

Since Python 3.8, AsyncMock and MagicMock have support to mock Asynchronous Iterators through __aiter__. The return_value attribute of __aiter__ can be used to set the return values to be used for iteration.

>>> mock = MagicMock()  # AsyncMock also works here
>>> mock.__aiter__.return_value = [1, 2, 3]
>>> async def main():
...     return [i async for i in mock]
>>> asyncio.run(main())
[1, 2, 3]

Mocking asynchronous context manager

Since Python 3.8, AsyncMock and MagicMock have support to mock Asynchronous Context Managers through __aenter__ and __aexit__. By default, __aenter__ and __aexit__ are AsyncMock instances that return an async function.

>>> class AsyncContextManager:
...     async def __aenter__(self):
...         return self
...     async def __aexit__(self, exc_type, exc, tb):
...         pass
>>> mock_instance = MagicMock(AsyncContextManager())  # AsyncMock also works here
>>> async def main():
...     async with mock_instance as result:
...         pass
>>> asyncio.run(main())
>>> mock_instance.__aenter__.assert_awaited_once()
>>> mock_instance.__aexit__.assert_awaited_once()

Creating a Mock from an Existing Object

One problem with over use of mocking is that it couples your tests to the implementation of your mocks rather than your real code. Suppose you have a class that implements some_method. In a test for another class, you provide a mock of this object that also provides some_method. If later you refactor the first class, so that it no longer has some_method - then your tests will continue to pass even though your code is now broken!

Mock allows you to provide an object as a specification for the mock, using the spec keyword argument. Accessing methods / attributes on the mock that don’t exist on your specification object will immediately raise an attribute error. If you change the implementation of your specification, then tests that use that class will start failing immediately without you having to instantiate the class in those tests.

>>> mock = Mock(spec=SomeClass)
>>> mock.old_method()
Traceback (most recent call last):
AttributeError: object has no attribute 'old_method'

Using a specification also enables a smarter matching of calls made to the mock, regardless of whether some parameters were passed as positional or named arguments:

>>> def f(a, b, c): pass
>>> mock = Mock(spec=f)
>>> mock(1, 2, 3)
<Mock name='mock()' id='140161580456576'>
>>> mock.assert_called_with(a=1, b=2, c=3)

If you want this smarter matching to also work with method calls on the mock, you can use auto-speccing.

If you want a stronger form of specification that prevents the setting of arbitrary attributes as well as the getting of them then you can use spec_set instead of spec.

Using side_effect to return per file content

mock_open() is used to patch open() method. side_effect can be used to return a new Mock object per call. This can be used to return different contents per file stored in a dictionary:

DEFAULT = "default"
data_dict = {"file1": "data1",
             "file2": "data2"}

def open_side_effect(name):
    return mock_open(read_data=data_dict.get(name, DEFAULT))()

with patch("builtins.open", side_effect=open_side_effect):
    with open("file1") as file1:
        assert file1.read() == "data1"

    with open("file2") as file2:
        assert file2.read() == "data2"

    with open("file3") as file2:
        assert file2.read() == "default"

Patch Decorators


With patch() it matters that you patch objects in the namespace where they are looked up. This is normally straightforward, but for a quick guide read where to patch.

A common need in tests is to patch a class attribute or a module attribute, for example patching a builtin or patching a class in a module to test that it is instantiated. Modules and classes are effectively global, so patching on them has to be undone after the test or the patch will persist into other tests and cause hard to diagnose problems.

mock provides three convenient decorators for this: patch(), patch.object() and patch.dict(). patch takes a single string, of the form package.module.Class.attribute to specify the attribute you are patching. It also optionally takes a value that you want the attribute (or class or whatever) to be replaced with. ‘patch.object’ takes an object and the name of the attribute you would like patched, plus optionally the value to patch it with.


>>> original = SomeClass.attribute
>>> @patch.object(SomeClass, 'attribute', sentinel.attribute)
... def test():
...     assert SomeClass.attribute == sentinel.attribute
>>> test()
>>> assert SomeClass.attribute == original

>>> @patch('package.module.attribute', sentinel.attribute)
... def test():
...     from package.module import attribute
...     assert attribute is sentinel.attribute
>>> test()

If you are patching a module (including builtins) then use patch() instead of patch.object():

>>> mock = MagicMock(return_value=sentinel.file_handle)
>>> with patch('builtins.open', mock):
...     handle = open('filename', 'r')
>>> mock.assert_called_with('filename', 'r')
>>> assert handle == sentinel.file_handle, "incorrect file handle returned"

The module name can be ‘dotted’, in the form package.module if needed:

>>> @patch('package.module.ClassName.attribute', sentinel.attribute)
... def test():
...     from package.module import ClassName
...     assert ClassName.attribute == sentinel.attribute
>>> test()

A nice pattern is to actually decorate test methods themselves:

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     @patch.object(SomeClass, 'attribute', sentinel.attribute)
...     def test_something(self):
...         self.assertEqual(SomeClass.attribute, sentinel.attribute)
>>> original = SomeClass.attribute
>>> MyTest('test_something').test_something()
>>> assert SomeClass.attribute == original

If you want to patch with a Mock, you can use patch() with only one argument (or patch.object() with two arguments). The mock will be created for you and passed into the test function / method:

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     @patch.object(SomeClass, 'static_method')
...     def test_something(self, mock_method):
...         SomeClass.static_method()
...         mock_method.assert_called_with()
>>> MyTest('test_something').test_something()

You can stack up multiple patch decorators using this pattern:

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     @patch('package.module.ClassName1')
...     @patch('package.module.ClassName2')
...     def test_something(self, MockClass2, MockClass1):
...         self.assertIs(package.module.ClassName1, MockClass1)
...         self.assertIs(package.module.ClassName2, MockClass2)
>>> MyTest('test_something').test_something()

When you nest patch decorators the mocks are passed in to the decorated function in the same order they applied (the normal Python order that decorators are applied). This means from the bottom up, so in the example above the mock for test_module.ClassName2 is passed in first.

There is also patch.dict() for setting values in a dictionary just during a scope and restoring the dictionary to its original state when the test ends:

>>> foo = {'key': 'value'}
>>> original = foo.copy()
>>> with patch.dict(foo, {'newkey': 'newvalue'}, clear=True):
...     assert foo == {'newkey': 'newvalue'}
>>> assert foo == original

patch, patch.object and patch.dict can all be used as context managers.

Where you use patch() to create a mock for you, you can get a reference to the mock using the “as” form of the with statement:

>>> class ProductionClass:
...     def method(self):
...         pass
>>> with patch.object(ProductionClass, 'method') as mock_method:
...     mock_method.return_value = None
...     real = ProductionClass()
...     real.method(1, 2, 3)
>>> mock_method.assert_called_with(1, 2, 3)

As an alternative patch, patch.object and patch.dict can be used as class decorators. When used in this way it is the same as applying the decorator individually to every method whose name starts with “test”.

Further Examples

Here are some more examples for some slightly more advanced scenarios.

Mocking chained calls

Mocking chained calls is actually straightforward with mock once you understand the return_value attribute. When a mock is called for the first time, or you fetch its return_value before it has been called, a new Mock is created.

This means that you can see how the object returned from a call to a mocked object has been used by interrogating the return_value mock:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> mock().foo(a=2, b=3)
<Mock name='mock().foo()' id='...'>
>>> mock.return_value.foo.assert_called_with(a=2, b=3)

From here it is a simple step to configure and then make assertions about chained calls. Of course another alternative is writing your code in a more testable way in the first place…

So, suppose we have some code that looks a little bit like this:

>>> class Something:
...     def __init__(self):
...         self.backend = BackendProvider()
...     def method(self):
...         response = self.backend.get_endpoint('foobar').create_call('spam', 'eggs').start_call()
...         # more code

Assuming that BackendProvider is already well tested, how do we test method()? Specifically, we want to test that the code section # more code uses the response object in the correct way.

As this chain of calls is made from an instance attribute we can monkey patch the backend attribute on a Something instance. In this particular case we are only interested in the return value from the final call to start_call so we don’t have much configuration to do. Let’s assume the object it returns is ‘file-like’, so we’ll ensure that our response object uses the builtin open() as its spec.

To do this we create a mock instance as our mock backend and create a mock response object for it. To set the response as the return value for that final start_call we could do this:

mock_backend.get_endpoint.return_value.create_call.return_value.start_call.return_value = mock_response

We can do that in a slightly nicer way using the configure_mock() method to directly set the return value for us:

>>> something = Something()
>>> mock_response = Mock(spec=open)
>>> mock_backend = Mock()
>>> config = {'get_endpoint.return_value.create_call.return_value.start_call.return_value': mock_response}
>>> mock_backend.configure_mock(**config)

With these we monkey patch the “mock backend” in place and can make the real call:

>>> something.backend = mock_backend
>>> something.method()

Using mock_calls we can check the chained call with a single assert. A chained call is several calls in one line of code, so there will be several entries in mock_calls. We can use call.call_list() to create this list of calls for us:

>>> chained = call.get_endpoint('foobar').create_call('spam', 'eggs').start_call()
>>> call_list = chained.call_list()
>>> assert mock_backend.mock_calls == call_list

Partial mocking

In some tests I wanted to mock out a call to datetime.date.today() to return a known date, but I didn’t want to prevent the code under test from creating new date objects. Unfortunately datetime.date is written in C, and so I couldn’t just monkey-patch out the static datetime.date.today() method.

I found a simple way of doing this that involved effectively wrapping the date class with a mock, but passing through calls to the constructor to the real class (and returning real instances).

The patch decorator is used here to mock out the date class in the module under test. The side_effect attribute on the mock date class is then set to a lambda function that returns a real date. When the mock date class is called a real date will be constructed and returned by side_effect.

>>> from datetime import date
>>> with patch('mymodule.date') as mock_date:
...     mock_date.today.return_value = date(2010, 10, 8)
...     mock_date.side_effect = lambda *args, **kw: date(*args, **kw)
...     assert mymodule.date.today() == date(2010, 10, 8)
...     assert mymodule.date(2009, 6, 8) == date(2009, 6, 8)

Note that we don’t patch datetime.date globally, we patch date in the module that uses it. See where to patch.

When date.today() is called a known date is returned, but calls to the date(...) constructor still return normal dates. Without this you can find yourself having to calculate an expected result using exactly the same algorithm as the code under test, which is a classic testing anti-pattern.

Calls to the date constructor are recorded in the mock_date attributes (call_count and friends) which may also be useful for your tests.

An alternative way of dealing with mocking dates, or other builtin classes, is discussed in this blog entry.

Mocking a Generator Method

A Python generator is a function or method that uses the yield statement to return a series of values when iterated over [1].

A generator method / function is called to return the generator object. It is the generator object that is then iterated over. The protocol method for iteration is __iter__(), so we can mock this using a MagicMock.

Here’s an example class with an “iter” method implemented as a generator:

>>> class Foo:
...     def iter(self):
...         for i in [1, 2, 3]:
...             yield i
>>> foo = Foo()
>>> list(foo.iter())
[1, 2, 3]

How would we mock this class, and in particular its “iter” method?

To configure the values returned from the iteration (implicit in the call to list), we need to configure the object returned by the call to foo.iter().

>>> mock_foo = MagicMock()
>>> mock_foo.iter.return_value = iter([1, 2, 3])
>>> list(mock_foo.iter())
[1, 2, 3]

Applying the same patch to every test method

If you want several patches in place for multiple test methods the obvious way is to apply the patch decorators to every method. This can feel like unnecessary repetition. Instead, you can use patch() (in all its various forms) as a class decorator. This applies the patches to all test methods on the class. A test method is identified by methods whose names start with test:

>>> @patch('mymodule.SomeClass')
... class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     def test_one(self, MockSomeClass):
...         self.assertIs(mymodule.SomeClass, MockSomeClass)
...     def test_two(self, MockSomeClass):
...         self.assertIs(mymodule.SomeClass, MockSomeClass)
...     def not_a_test(self):
...         return 'something'
>>> MyTest('test_one').test_one()
>>> MyTest('test_two').test_two()
>>> MyTest('test_two').not_a_test()

An alternative way of managing patches is to use the patch methods: start and stop. These allow you to move the patching into your setUp and tearDown methods.

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     def setUp(self):
...         self.patcher = patch('mymodule.foo')
...         self.mock_foo = self.patcher.start()
...     def test_foo(self):
...         self.assertIs(mymodule.foo, self.mock_foo)
...     def tearDown(self):
...         self.patcher.stop()
>>> MyTest('test_foo').run()

If you use this technique you must ensure that the patching is “undone” by calling stop. This can be fiddlier than you might think, because if an exception is raised in the setUp then tearDown is not called. unittest.TestCase.addCleanup() makes this easier:

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     def setUp(self):
...         patcher = patch('mymodule.foo')
...         self.addCleanup(patcher.stop)
...         self.mock_foo = patcher.start()
...     def test_foo(self):
...         self.assertIs(mymodule.foo, self.mock_foo)
>>> MyTest('test_foo').run()

Mocking Unbound Methods

Whilst writing tests today I needed to patch an unbound method (patching the method on the class rather than on the instance). I needed self to be passed in as the first argument because I want to make asserts about which objects were calling this particular method. The issue is that you can’t patch with a mock for this, because if you replace an unbound method with a mock it doesn’t become a bound method when fetched from the instance, and so it doesn’t get self passed in. The workaround is to patch the unbound method with a real function instead. The patch() decorator makes it so simple to patch out methods with a mock that having to create a real function becomes a nuisance.

If you pass autospec=True to patch then it does the patching with a real function object. This function object has the same signature as the one it is replacing, but delegates to a mock under the hood. You still get your mock auto-created in exactly the same way as before. What it means though, is that if you use it to patch out an unbound method on a class the mocked function will be turned into a bound method if it is fetched from an instance. It will have self passed in as the first argument, which is exactly what I wanted:

>>> class Foo:
...   def foo(self):
...     pass
>>> with patch.object(Foo, 'foo', autospec=True) as mock_foo:
...   mock_foo.return_value = 'foo'
...   foo = Foo()
...   foo.foo()
>>> mock_foo.assert_called_once_with(foo)

If we don’t use autospec=True then the unbound method is patched out with a Mock instance instead, and isn’t called with self.

Checking multiple calls with mock

mock has a nice API for making assertions about how your mock objects are used.

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> mock.foo_bar.return_value = None
>>> mock.foo_bar('baz', spam='eggs')
>>> mock.foo_bar.assert_called_with('baz', spam='eggs')

If your mock is only being called once you can use the assert_called_once_with() method that also asserts that the call_count is one.

>>> mock.foo_bar.assert_called_once_with('baz', spam='eggs')
>>> mock.foo_bar()
>>> mock.foo_bar.assert_called_once_with('baz', spam='eggs')
Traceback (most recent call last):
AssertionError: Expected to be called once. Called 2 times.

Both assert_called_with and assert_called_once_with make assertions about the most recent call. If your mock is going to be called several times, and you want to make assertions about all those calls you can use call_args_list:

>>> mock = Mock(return_value=None)
>>> mock(1, 2, 3)
>>> mock(4, 5, 6)
>>> mock()
>>> mock.call_args_list
[call(1, 2, 3), call(4, 5, 6), call()]

The call helper makes it easy to make assertions about these calls. You can build up a list of expected calls and compare it to call_args_list. This looks remarkably similar to the repr of the call_args_list:

>>> expected = [call(1, 2, 3), call(4, 5, 6), call()]
>>> mock.call_args_list == expected

Coping with mutable arguments

Another situation is rare, but can bite you, is when your mock is called with mutable arguments. call_args and call_args_list store references to the arguments. If the arguments are mutated by the code under test then you can no longer make assertions about what the values were when the mock was called.

Here’s some example code that shows the problem. Imagine the following functions defined in ‘mymodule’:

def frob(val):

def grob(val):
    "First frob and then clear val"

When we try to test that grob calls frob with the correct argument look what happens:

>>> with patch('mymodule.frob') as mock_frob:
...     val = {6}
...     mymodule.grob(val)
>>> val
>>> mock_frob.assert_called_with({6})
Traceback (most recent call last):
AssertionError: Expected: (({6},), {})
Called with: ((set(),), {})

One possibility would be for mock to copy the arguments you pass in. This could then cause problems if you do assertions that rely on object identity for equality.

Here’s one solution that uses the side_effect functionality. If you provide a side_effect function for a mock then side_effect will be called with the same args as the mock. This gives us an opportunity to copy the arguments and store them for later assertions. In this example I’m using another mock to store the arguments so that I can use the mock methods for doing the assertion. Again a helper function sets this up for me.

>>> from copy import deepcopy
>>> from unittest.mock import Mock, patch, DEFAULT
>>> def copy_call_args(mock):
...     new_mock = Mock()
...     def side_effect(*args, **kwargs):
...         args = deepcopy(args)
...         kwargs = deepcopy(kwargs)
...         new_mock(*args, **kwargs)
...         return DEFAULT
...     mock.side_effect = side_effect
...     return new_mock
>>> with patch('mymodule.frob') as mock_frob:
...     new_mock = copy_call_args(mock_frob)
...     val = {6}
...     mymodule.grob(val)
>>> new_mock.assert_called_with({6})
>>> new_mock.call_args

copy_call_args is called with the mock that will be called. It returns a new mock that we do the assertion on. The side_effect function makes a copy of the args and calls our new_mock with the copy.


If your mock is only going to be used once there is an easier way of checking arguments at the point they are called. You can simply do the checking inside a side_effect function.

>>> def side_effect(arg):
...     assert arg == {6}
>>> mock = Mock(side_effect=side_effect)
>>> mock({6})
>>> mock(set())
Traceback (most recent call last):

An alternative approach is to create a subclass of Mock or MagicMock that copies (using copy.deepcopy()) the arguments. Here’s an example implementation:

>>> from copy import deepcopy
>>> class CopyingMock(MagicMock):
...     def __call__(self, /, *args, **kwargs):
...         args = deepcopy(args)
...         kwargs = deepcopy(kwargs)
...         return super().__call__(*args, **kwargs)
>>> c = CopyingMock(return_value=None)
>>> arg = set()
>>> c(arg)
>>> arg.add(1)
>>> c.assert_called_with(set())
>>> c.assert_called_with(arg)
Traceback (most recent call last):
AssertionError: Expected call: mock({1})
Actual call: mock(set())
>>> c.foo
<CopyingMock name='mock.foo' id='...'>

When you subclass Mock or MagicMock all dynamically created attributes, and the return_value will use your subclass automatically. That means all children of a CopyingMock will also have the type CopyingMock.

Nesting Patches

Using patch as a context manager is nice, but if you do multiple patches you can end up with nested with statements indenting further and further to the right:

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     def test_foo(self):
...         with patch('mymodule.Foo') as mock_foo:
...             with patch('mymodule.Bar') as mock_bar:
...                 with patch('mymodule.Spam') as mock_spam:
...                     assert mymodule.Foo is mock_foo
...                     assert mymodule.Bar is mock_bar
...                     assert mymodule.Spam is mock_spam
>>> original = mymodule.Foo
>>> MyTest('test_foo').test_foo()
>>> assert mymodule.Foo is original

With unittest cleanup functions and the patch methods: start and stop we can achieve the same effect without the nested indentation. A simple helper method, create_patch, puts the patch in place and returns the created mock for us:

>>> class MyTest(unittest.TestCase):
...     def create_patch(self, name):
...         patcher = patch(name)
...         thing = patcher.start()
...         self.addCleanup(patcher.stop)
...         return thing
...     def test_foo(self):
...         mock_foo = self.create_patch('mymodule.Foo')
...         mock_bar = self.create_patch('mymodule.Bar')
...         mock_spam = self.create_patch('mymodule.Spam')
...         assert mymodule.Foo is mock_foo
...         assert mymodule.Bar is mock_bar
...         assert mymodule.Spam is mock_spam
>>> original = mymodule.Foo
>>> MyTest('test_foo').run()
>>> assert mymodule.Foo is original

Mocking a dictionary with MagicMock

You may want to mock a dictionary, or other container object, recording all access to it whilst having it still behave like a dictionary.

We can do this with MagicMock, which will behave like a dictionary, and using side_effect to delegate dictionary access to a real underlying dictionary that is under our control.

When the __getitem__() and __setitem__() methods of our MagicMock are called (normal dictionary access) then side_effect is called with the key (and in the case of __setitem__ the value too). We can also control what is returned.

After the MagicMock has been used we can use attributes like call_args_list to assert about how the dictionary was used:

>>> my_dict = {'a': 1, 'b': 2, 'c': 3}
>>> def getitem(name):
...      return my_dict[name]
>>> def setitem(name, val):
...     my_dict[name] = val
>>> mock = MagicMock()
>>> mock.__getitem__.side_effect = getitem
>>> mock.__setitem__.side_effect = setitem


An alternative to using MagicMock is to use Mock and only provide the magic methods you specifically want:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> mock.__getitem__ = Mock(side_effect=getitem)
>>> mock.__setitem__ = Mock(side_effect=setitem)

A third option is to use MagicMock but passing in dict as the spec (or spec_set) argument so that the MagicMock created only has dictionary magic methods available:

>>> mock = MagicMock(spec_set=dict)
>>> mock.__getitem__.side_effect = getitem
>>> mock.__setitem__.side_effect = setitem

With these side effect functions in place, the mock will behave like a normal dictionary but recording the access. It even raises a KeyError if you try to access a key that doesn’t exist.

>>> mock['a']
>>> mock['c']
>>> mock['d']
Traceback (most recent call last):
KeyError: 'd'
>>> mock['b'] = 'fish'
>>> mock['d'] = 'eggs'
>>> mock['b']
>>> mock['d']

After it has been used you can make assertions about the access using the normal mock methods and attributes:

>>> mock.__getitem__.call_args_list
[call('a'), call('c'), call('d'), call('b'), call('d')]
>>> mock.__setitem__.call_args_list
[call('b', 'fish'), call('d', 'eggs')]
>>> my_dict
{'a': 1, 'b': 'fish', 'c': 3, 'd': 'eggs'}

Mock subclasses and their attributes

There are various reasons why you might want to subclass Mock. One reason might be to add helper methods. Here’s a silly example:

>>> class MyMock(MagicMock):
...     def has_been_called(self):
...         return self.called
>>> mymock = MyMock(return_value=None)
>>> mymock
<MyMock id='...'>
>>> mymock.has_been_called()
>>> mymock()
>>> mymock.has_been_called()

The standard behaviour for Mock instances is that attributes and the return value mocks are of the same type as the mock they are accessed on. This ensures that Mock attributes are Mocks and MagicMock attributes are MagicMocks [2]. So if you’re subclassing to add helper methods then they’ll also be available on the attributes and return value mock of instances of your subclass.

>>> mymock.foo
<MyMock name='mock.foo' id='...'>
>>> mymock.foo.has_been_called()
>>> mymock.foo()
<MyMock name='mock.foo()' id='...'>
>>> mymock.foo.has_been_called()

Sometimes this is inconvenient. For example, one user is subclassing mock to created a Twisted adaptor. Having this applied to attributes too actually causes errors.

Mock (in all its flavours) uses a method called _get_child_mock to create these “sub-mocks” for attributes and return values. You can prevent your subclass being used for attributes by overriding this method. The signature is that it takes arbitrary keyword arguments (**kwargs) which are then passed onto the mock constructor:

>>> class Subclass(MagicMock):
...     def _get_child_mock(self, /, **kwargs):
...         return MagicMock(**kwargs)
>>> mymock = Subclass()
>>> mymock.foo
<MagicMock name='mock.foo' id='...'>
>>> assert isinstance(mymock, Subclass)
>>> assert not isinstance(mymock.foo, Subclass)
>>> assert not isinstance(mymock(), Subclass)

Mocking imports with patch.dict

One situation where mocking can be hard is where you have a local import inside a function. These are harder to mock because they aren’t using an object from the module namespace that we can patch out.

Generally local imports are to be avoided. They are sometimes done to prevent circular dependencies, for which there is usually a much better way to solve the problem (refactor the code) or to prevent “up front costs” by delaying the import. This can also be solved in better ways than an unconditional local import (store the module as a class or module attribute and only do the import on first use).

That aside there is a way to use mock to affect the results of an import. Importing fetches an object from the sys.modules dictionary. Note that it fetches an object, which need not be a module. Importing a module for the first time results in a module object being put in sys.modules, so usually when you import something you get a module back. This need not be the case however.

This means you can use patch.dict() to temporarily put a mock in place in sys.modules. Any imports whilst this patch is active will fetch the mock. When the patch is complete (the decorated function exits, the with statement body is complete or patcher.stop() is called) then whatever was there previously will be restored safely.

Here’s an example that mocks out the ‘fooble’ module.

>>> import sys
>>> mock = Mock()
>>> with patch.dict('sys.modules', {'fooble': mock}):
...    import fooble
...    fooble.blob()
<Mock name='mock.blob()' id='...'>
>>> assert 'fooble' not in sys.modules
>>> mock.blob.assert_called_once_with()

As you can see the import fooble succeeds, but on exit there is no ‘fooble’ left in sys.modules.

This also works for the from module import name form:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> with patch.dict('sys.modules', {'fooble': mock}):
...    from fooble import blob
...    blob.blip()
<Mock name='mock.blob.blip()' id='...'>
>>> mock.blob.blip.assert_called_once_with()

With slightly more work you can also mock package imports:

>>> mock = Mock()
>>> modules = {'package': mock, 'package.module': mock.module}
>>> with patch.dict('sys.modules', modules):
...    from package.module import fooble
...    fooble()
<Mock name='mock.module.fooble()' id='...'>
>>> mock.module.fooble.assert_called_once_with()

Tracking order of calls and less verbose call assertions

The Mock class allows you to track the order of method calls on your mock objects through the method_calls attribute. This doesn’t allow you to track the order of calls between separate mock objects, however we can use mock_calls to achieve the same effect.

Because mocks track calls to child mocks in mock_calls, and accessing an arbitrary attribute of a mock creates a child mock, we can create our separate mocks from a parent one. Calls to those child mock will then all be recorded, in order, in the mock_calls of the parent:

>>> manager = Mock()
>>> mock_foo = manager.foo
>>> mock_bar = manager.bar
>>> mock_foo.something()
<Mock name='mock.foo.something()' id='...'>
>>> mock_bar.other.thing()
<Mock name='mock.bar.other.thing()' id='...'>
>>> manager.mock_calls
[call.foo.something(), call.bar.other.thing()]

We can then assert about the calls, including the order, by comparing with the mock_calls attribute on the manager mock:

>>> expected_calls = [call.foo.something(), call.bar.other.thing()]
>>> manager.mock_calls == expected_calls

If patch is creating, and putting in place, your mocks then you can attach them to a manager mock using the attach_mock() method. After attaching calls will be recorded in mock_calls of the manager.

>>> manager = MagicMock()
>>> with patch('mymodule.Class1') as MockClass1:
...     with patch('mymodule.Class2') as MockClass2:
...         manager.attach_mock(MockClass1, 'MockClass1')
...         manager.attach_mock(MockClass2, 'MockClass2')
...         MockClass1().foo()
...         MockClass2().bar()
<MagicMock name='mock.MockClass1().foo()' id='...'>
<MagicMock name='mock.MockClass2().bar()' id='...'>
>>> manager.mock_calls

If many calls have been made, but you’re only interested in a particular sequence of them then an alternative is to use the assert_has_calls() method. This takes a list of calls (constructed with the call object). If that sequence of calls are in mock_calls then the assert succeeds.

>>> m = MagicMock()
>>> m().foo().bar().baz()
<MagicMock name='mock().foo().bar().baz()' id='...'>
>>> m.one().two().three()
<MagicMock name='mock.one().two().three()' id='...'>
>>> calls = call.one().two().three().call_list()
>>> m.assert_has_calls(calls)

Even though the chained call m.one().two().three() aren’t the only calls that have been made to the mock, the assert still succeeds.

Sometimes a mock may have several calls made to it, and you are only interested in asserting about some of those calls. You may not even care about the order. In this case you can pass any_order=True to assert_has_calls:

>>> m = MagicMock()
>>> m(1), m.two(2, 3), m.seven(7), m.fifty('50')
>>> calls = [call.fifty('50'), call(1), call.seven(7)]
>>> m.assert_has_calls(calls, any_order=True)

More complex argument matching

Using the same basic concept as ANY we can implement matchers to do more complex assertions on objects used as arguments to mocks.

Suppose we expect some object to be passed to a mock that by default compares equal based on object identity (which is the Python default for user defined classes). To use assert_called_with() we would need to pass in the exact same object. If we are only interested in some of the attributes of this object then we can create a matcher that will check these attributes for us.

You can see in this example how a ‘standard’ call to assert_called_with isn’t sufficient:

>>> class Foo:
...     def __init__(self, a, b):
...         self.a, self.b = a, b
>>> mock = Mock(return_value=None)
>>> mock(Foo(1, 2))
>>> mock.assert_called_with(Foo(1, 2))
Traceback (most recent call last):
AssertionError: Expected: call(<__main__.Foo object at 0x...>)
Actual call: call(<__main__.Foo object at 0x...>)

A comparison function for our Foo class might look something like this:

>>> def compare(self, other):
...     if not type(self) == type(other):
...         return False
...     if self.a != other.a:
...         return False
...     if self.b != other.b:
...         return False
...     return True

And a matcher object that can use comparison functions like this for its equality operation would look something like this:

>>> class Matcher:
...     def __init__(self, compare, some_obj):
...         self.compare = compare
...         self.some_obj = some_obj
...     def __eq__(self, other):
...         return self.compare(self.some_obj, other)

Putting all this together:

>>> match_foo = Matcher(compare, Foo(1, 2))
>>> mock.assert_called_with(match_foo)

The Matcher is instantiated with our compare function and the Foo object we want to compare against. In assert_called_with the Matcher equality method will be called, which compares the object the mock was called with against the one we created our matcher with. If they match then assert_called_with passes, and if they don’t an AssertionError is raised:

>>> match_wrong = Matcher(compare, Foo(3, 4))
>>> mock.assert_called_with(match_wrong)
Traceback (most recent call last):
AssertionError: Expected: ((<Matcher object at 0x...>,), {})
Called with: ((<Foo object at 0x...>,), {})

With a bit of tweaking you could have the comparison function raise the AssertionError directly and provide a more useful failure message.

As of version 1.5, the Python testing library PyHamcrest provides similar functionality, that may be useful here, in the form of its equality matcher (hamcrest.library.integration.match_equality).