14.5. plistlib — Generate and parse Mac OS X .plist files

Source code: Lib/plistlib.py

This module provides an interface for reading and writing the “property list” XML files used mainly by Mac OS X.

The property list (.plist) file format is a simple XML pickle supporting basic object types, like dictionaries, lists, numbers and strings. Usually the top level object is a dictionary.

To write out and to parse a plist file, use the writePlist() and readPlist() functions.

To work with plist data in bytes objects, use writePlistToBytes() and readPlistFromBytes().

Values can be strings, integers, floats, booleans, tuples, lists, dictionaries (but only with string keys), Data or datetime.datetime objects. String values (including dictionary keys) have to be unicode strings – they will be written out as UTF-8.

The <data> plist type is supported through the Data class. This is a thin wrapper around a Python bytes object. Use Data if your strings contain control characters.

See also

PList manual page
Apple’s documentation of the file format.

This module defines the following functions:


Read a plist file. pathOrFile may either be a file name or a (readable and binary) file object. Return the unpacked root object (which usually is a dictionary).

The XML data is parsed using the Expat parser from xml.parsers.expat – see its documentation for possible exceptions on ill-formed XML. Unknown elements will simply be ignored by the plist parser.

plistlib.writePlist(rootObject, pathOrFile)

Write rootObject to a plist file. pathOrFile may either be a file name or a (writable and binary) file object.

A TypeError will be raised if the object is of an unsupported type or a container that contains objects of unsupported types.


Read a plist data from a bytes object. Return the root object.


Return rootObject as a plist-formatted bytes object.

The following class is available:

class plistlib.Data(data)

Return a “data” wrapper object around the bytes object data. This is used in functions converting from/to plists to represent the <data> type available in plists.

It has one attribute, data, that can be used to retrieve the Python bytes object stored in it.

14.5.1. Examples

Generating a plist:

pl = dict(
    aString = "Doodah",
    aList = ["A", "B", 12, 32.1, [1, 2, 3]],
    aFloat = 0.1,
    anInt = 728,
    aDict = dict(
        anotherString = "<hello & hi there!>",
        aThirdString = "M\xe4ssig, Ma\xdf",
        aTrueValue = True,
        aFalseValue = False,
    someData = Data(b"<binary gunk>"),
    someMoreData = Data(b"<lots of binary gunk>" * 10),
    aDate = datetime.datetime.fromtimestamp(time.mktime(time.gmtime())),
writePlist(pl, fileName)

Parsing a plist:

pl = readPlist(pathOrFile)

Table Of Contents

Previous topic

14.4. xdrlib — Encode and decode XDR data

Next topic

15. Cryptographic Services

This Page