What’s the correct way to convert bytes to a hex string in Python 3?

Python Programming

Question or problem about Python programming:

What’s the correct way to convert bytes to a hex string in Python 3?

I see claims of a bytes.hex method, bytes.decode codecs, and have tried other possible functions of least astonishment without avail. I just want my bytes as hex!

How to solve the problem:

Solution 1:

Since Python 3.5 this is finally no longer awkward:

>>> b'\xde\xad\xbe\xef'.hex()

and reverse:

>>> bytes.fromhex('deadbeef')

works also with the mutable bytearray type.

Reference: https://docs.python.org/3/library/stdtypes.html#bytes.hex

Solution 2:

Use the binascii module:

>>> import binascii
>>> binascii.hexlify('foo'.encode('utf8'))
>>> binascii.unhexlify(_).decode('utf8')

See this answer:
Python 3.1.1 string to hex

Solution 3:

Python has bytes-to-bytes standard codecs that perform convenient transformations like quoted-printable (fits into 7bits ascii), base64 (fits into alphanumerics), hex escaping, gzip and bz2 compression. In Python 2, you could do:


In Python 3, str.encode / bytes.decode are strictly for bytes<->str conversions. Instead, you can do this, which works across Python 2 and Python 3 (s/encode/decode/g for the inverse):

import codecs

Starting with Python 3.4, there is a less awkward option:

codecs.encode(b'foo', 'hex')

These misc codecs are also accessible inside their own modules (base64, zlib, bz2, uu, quopri, binascii); the API is less consistent, but for compression codecs it offers more control.

Solution 4:

import codecs

works in Python 3.3 (so “hex_codec” instead of “hex”).

Solution 5:

The method binascii.hexlify() will convert bytes to a bytes representing the ascii hex string. That means that each byte in the input will get converted to two ascii characters. If you want a true str out then you can .decode("ascii") the result.

I included an snippet that illustrates it.

import binascii

with open("addressbook.bin", "rb") as f: # or any binary file like '/bin/ls'
    in_bytes = f.read()
    print(in_bytes) # b'\n\x16\n\x04'
    hex_bytes = binascii.hexlify(in_bytes) 
    print(hex_bytes) # b'0a160a04' which is twice as long as in_bytes
    hex_str = hex_bytes.decode("ascii")
    print(hex_str) # 0a160a04

from the hex string "0a160a04" to can come back to the bytes with binascii.unhexlify("0a160a04") which gives back b'\n\x16\n\x04'

Hope this helps!