5 Best Ways to Extract Specific Keys from a Python Dictionary

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πŸ’‘ Problem Formulation: When working with Python dictionaries, we often need to extract a subset of key-value pairs based on specific keys. This task is common in data processing and manipulation where the user requires only relevant data. For example, given a dictionary {'name': 'Alice', 'age': 25, 'email': 'alice@email.com'}, one may need to extract only the ‘name’ and ‘age’ keys and their associated values.

Method 1: Using Dictionary Comprehension

Dictionary comprehension provides a concise way to construct a new dictionary from an iterable in Python. This method allows creation of a sub-dictionary by iterating over keys and selecting only the required ones. It’s a clean and readable approach that leverages the power of comprehensions in Python. It is best used when you have a clear condition for including keys.

Here’s an example:

original_dict = {'name': 'Alice', 'age': 25, 'email': 'alice@email.com'}
keys_to_extract = {'name', 'age'}
sub_dict = {key: original_dict[key] for key in keys_to_extract}


{'name': 'Alice', 'age': 25}

This snippet creates a new dictionary named sub_dict that contains only the keys ‘name’ and ‘age’ from the original_dict. This is a fast and elegant way to filter the necessary keys.

Method 2: Using the dict() Constructor and Filtering with map()

Another effective method is to utilize the dict() constructor in combination with the map() function. This method creates tuples of matching key-value pairs and feeds them into the dict() function to build the new dictionary. It is a functional programming approach and can be very compact.

Here’s an example:

original_dict = {'name': 'Bob', 'age': 30, 'email': 'bob@email.com'}
keys_to_extract = {'name', 'email'}
sub_dict = dict(map(lambda k: (k, original_dict[k]), keys_to_extract))


{'name': 'Bob', 'email': 'bob@email.com'}

This code uses map() to apply a lambda function across the desired keys, creating key-value pair tuples. The dict() constructor then takes these tuples and constructs the sub-dictionary.

Method 3: Using the filter() Function

The filter() function is used to create an iterable of the items in a dictionary that pass a certain test. By passing it a lambda function that checks key presence in a desired set of keys, we can filter out only the key-value pairs we want and pass them to the dict() constructor to form a new dictionary.

Here’s an example:

original_dict = {'name': 'Charlie', 'age': 28, 'email': 'charlie@email.com'}
keys_to_extract = {'age', 'email'}
filtered_items = filter(lambda item: item[0] in keys_to_extract, original_dict.items())
sub_dict = dict(filtered_items)


{'age': 28, 'email': 'charlie@email.com'}

This snippet filters original_dict‘s items by whether their keys are in keys_to_extract. Then it creates a dictionary from these filtered items.

Method 4: Using the pop() Method

If the original dictionary can be modified, the pop() method can be used to extract and remove key-value pairs by key. This method is particularly useful when you want to manipulate the original dictionary while also retrieving values. It is best used when memory or dictionary size is a concern.

Here’s an example:

original_dict = {'name': 'Dave', 'age': 22, 'email': 'dave@email.com'}
keys_to_keep = {'name', 'email'}
sub_dict = {key: original_dict.pop(key) for key in list(original_dict.keys()) if key in keys_to_keep}
print("Sub dictionary:", sub_dict)
print("Original dictionary after pop:", original_dict)


Sub dictionary: {'name': 'Dave', 'email': 'dave@email.com'}
Original dictionary after pop: {'age': 22}

The pop() method here is used to extract the keys ‘name’ and ’email’ and remove them from original_dict, leaving it with only the remaining keys.

Bonus One-Liner Method 5: Using Dictionary get() Method in a Comprehension

If you want a one-liner approach to extract keys without raising an exception for missing keys, you can use the get() method within a dictionary comprehension. This is very similar to method 1, but it won’t fail if a key isn’t found.

Here’s an example:

original_dict = {'name': 'Eve', 'age': 24, 'email': 'eve@email.com'}
keys_to_extract = {'name', 'email', 'location'}
sub_dict = {key: original_dict.get(key) for key in keys_to_extract}


{'name': 'Eve', 'email': 'eve@email.com', 'location': None}

Here, the get() method returns None for any key not present in the original dictionary, thus avoiding a potential KeyError.


Method 1: Dictionary Comprehension. Quick and clean. Requires keys to be present to avoid errors.
Method 2: dict() and map(). Functional style. Compact, but slightly less readable.
Method 3: Using filter(). Readable and safe. Might be slower for large dictionaries.
Method 4: Using pop(). Modifies original dictionary. Efficient memory use.
Method 5: Comprehension with get(). One-liner and safe. Returns None for missing keys which may need to be handled.