Debugging issues with static files

"Help! My static files aren't working!"

CSS, JavaScript, or other static files not loading? Hopefully this guide can help.

First, have you actually set up your static files on the Web tab?

See this general guide to static files or this specific guide to static files in Django

If yes: examine a specific example.

Let's start with a specific example of a static file that's not working.

You need to identify 3 pieces of information:

  • The URL which you expect to be able to load the static file from (eg

  • The path where this file is stored on disk, in your PythonAnywhere account(eg /home/myusername/myproject/assets/path/to/myfile.css)

  • The relevant static files mapping from the web tab, the values for its URL and path settings (eg: URL /static/ maps to path /home/myusername/myproject/assets)

By identifying these 3 pieces of information, you may already be able to figure out what the problem is -- the static files mapping should be able to transform the URL to the path on disk, exactly.

How the static files mapping finds your file

Let's work through an example to show how the static files system finds your file.

If you have a css file that is referred to by /static/path/to/myfile.css in your HTML, you could use any of the following static files mappings (the first 2 columns are the values that should be in the Static files table and the last is where there needs to be a file for the mapping to work):

Entry in Static files table Where the file must be
URL Directory
/static /home/username/mysite/assets/ /home/username/mysite/assets/path/to/myfile.css
/static/path/ /home/username/mysite/assets/ /home/username/mysite/assets/to/myfile.css
/static/path/to/ /home/username/mysite/assets/ /home/username/mysite/assets/myfile.css

Common problems:

  • The file is missing on disk

  • The path to the file and the path in the URL don't quite match (eg, there's an extra level of folder hierarchy in one and not the other)

  • caching -- if you've only just set up the mapping, the old 404 response may be being cached by your browser. Hit Shift+refresh a few times, or try a new browser tab. You may also need to give our distributed filesystem a few seconds to catch up if you've only just added the target file to the disk.

  • Case-sensitivity -- Both the URL (after the domain name) and the path on disk are case-sensitive. so Path/To/MyFile.css != path/to/myfile.css.

  • Your static files mapping is not active yet. You may need to reload your web app.

  • You've used a relative path instead of an absolute path in the URL in your HTML (eg 'static/css/myfile.css' instead of '/static/css/myfile.css' -- this will work for some paths on your site but not others. best to use absolute paths everywhere)

  • You have a mapping where the file path is an individual file. In this case, the mapping will override all the following mappings where the URL starts with the URL of the single-file mapping. For instance, if you first mapping is / -> /home/user/myfile.html, then all the following mappings will be ignored and myfile.html will be served for all URLs.

If you still can't figure it out, drop us an email to with the details of the specific example that you used for your debugging.