5 Ways to Convert a Tuple to a List in Python

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If you’re short on time, here’s my quick take on how to convert a Python tuple to a Python list?

The most Pythonic way to convert a tuple to a list in Python is to call the built-in list() function and pass the tuple as a function argument to the function. The function list() takes any sequence type such as a tuple and converts them to lists. The return value of the function is the new list generated.

t = (1, 2, 3)
l = list(t)
print(l)
# [1, 2, 3]

There are some details to this approach—and alternative ways as well. Feel free to keep reading, watch the article video, and improve your Python skills in the process! 🙂

Let’s get started!

Problem Formulation + Examples

Problem: Given a Python tuple with n elements. How to convert it to a list with the same n elements?

Examples:

  • Convert tuple (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) to list [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
  • Convert tuple ('Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann') to list ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann'].
  • Convert tuple (1,) to list [1].

Note Tuple: Tuples are similar to lists—with the difference that you cannot change the tuple values (tuples are immutable) and you use parentheses (...) rather than square brackets [...].

Solution Overview

This article shows five solutions to this problem of converting a tuple t to a new list:

  1. list(t)
  2. for el in t: new_list.append(el)
  3. [*t]
  4. [x for x in t]

Method 1: list()

Solution: Use the built-in Python list() function to convert a list into a tuple. You don’t need to import any external library.

Code: The following code converts the three given tuples into lists.

tuple_1 = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
print(list(tuple_1))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

tuple_2 = ('Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann')
print(list(tuple_2))
# ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann']

tuple_3 = (1,)
print(list(tuple_3))
# [1]

Explanation: You can see that converting a tuple with one element leads to a list with one element. The list() function is the easiest way to convert a tuple into a list. Note that the values in the tuple are not copied—only a new reference to the same element is created:

The graphic also shows how to convert a tuple back to a list by using the tuple() function (that’s also a Python built-in function). Thus, calling list(tuple(lst)) on a list lst will result in a new list with the same elements.

Related articles:

Try to execute this code with the interactive Python tutor:

Method 2: Loop Iteration + append()

To convert a tuple to a list, start with an empty list and fill in one tuple element at a time using the append() method and pass the tuple element into the function within a Python loop body iterating over all tuple elements.

Here’s the code to do this:

def tuple_to_list(t):
    new_list = []
    for element in t:
        new_list.append(element)
    return new_list

tuple_1 = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_1))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

tuple_2 = ('Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann')
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_2))
# ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann']

tuple_3 = (1,)
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_3))
# [1]

You can learn more about the append() method in my detailed guide and the accompanying video:

Method 3: Unpacking Asterisk Operator

To convert a tuple to a list, you can use the unpacking asterisk operator * from Python version 3.5 onwards. For example, the expression [*t] creates a new list with the square bracket notation and unpacks all elements of the tuple t into the list.

Here’s the code to accomplish this:

def tuple_to_list(t):
    return [*t]

tuple_1 = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_1))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

tuple_2 = ('Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann')
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_2))
# ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann']

tuple_3 = (1,)
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_3))
# [1]

The expression [*t] is the most concise one-liner to convert a tuple t to a list!

Method 4: List Comprehension

The list comprehension statement [x for x in t] converts a Python tuple t into a new list by iterating over all elements x in the tuple t and placing them unchanged in the list using the square bracket notation [].

Here’s the code:

def tuple_to_list(t):
    return [x for x in t]

tuple_1 = (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_1))
# [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

tuple_2 = ('Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann')
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_2))
# ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Ann']

tuple_3 = (1,)
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_3))
# [1]

If you need a quick refresher on list comprehension, feel free to check out my detailed guide on the Finxter blog.

Method 5: Convert Tuple of Tuples to List of Lists

If you have a tuple of tuples such as ((1, 2, 3), (4, 5, 6)) you can convert it to a list of lists such as [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6]] by combining list comprehension with the list() function like so:

[list(x) for x in t]

Here’s a simple code example:

def tuple_to_list(t):
    return [list(x) for x in t]

tuple_1 = ((1, 2, 3),
           (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9),
           ('Alice', 'Bob', 'Carl'))
print(tuple_to_list(tuple_1))
# [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], ['Alice', 'Bob', 'Carl']]

Where to Go From Here?

Enough theory. Let’s get some practice!

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