A collection provides an iterable interface to a group of resources. Collections behave similarly to Django QuerySets and expose a similar API. A collection seamlessly handles pagination for you, making it possible to easily iterate over all items from all pages of data. Example of a collection:

# SQS list all queues
sqs = boto3.resource('sqs')
for queue in sqs.queues.all():

When collections make requests#

Collections can be created and manipulated without any request being made to the underlying service. A collection makes a remote service request under the following conditions:

  • Iteration:

    for bucket in s3.buckets.all():
  • Conversion to list():

    buckets = list(s3.buckets.all())
  • Batch actions (see below):



Some collections support extra arguments to filter the returned data set, which are passed into the underlying service operation. Use the filter() method to filter the results:

# S3 list all keys with the prefix 'photos/'
s3 = boto3.resource('s3')
for bucket in s3.buckets.all():
    for obj in bucket.objects.filter(Prefix='photos/'):
        print('{0}:{1}'.format(, obj.key))


Behind the scenes, the above example will call ListBuckets, ListObjects, and HeadObject many times. If you have a large number of S3 objects then this could incur a significant cost.


Collection methods are chainable. They return copies of the collection rather than modifying the collection, including a deep copy of any associated operation parameters. For example, this allows you to build up multiple collections from a base which they all have in common:

# EC2 find instances
ec2 = boto3.resource('ec2')
base = ec2.instances.filter(InstanceIds=['id1', 'id2', 'id3'])

filters = [{
    'Name': 'tenancy',
    'Values': ['dedicated']
filtered1 = base.filter(Filters=filters)

# Note, this does NOT modify the filters in ``filtered1``!
filters.append({'name': 'instance-type', 'value': 't1.micro'})
filtered2 = base.filter(Filters=filters)

print('All instances:')
for instance in base:

print('Dedicated instances:')
for instance in filtered1:

print('Dedicated micro instances:')
for instance in filtered2:

Limiting results#

It is possible to limit the number of items returned from a collection by using either the limit() method:

# S3 iterate over first ten buckets
for bucket in s3.buckets.limit(10):

In both cases, up to 10 items total will be returned. If you do not have 10 buckets, then all of your buckets will be returned.

Controlling page size#

Collections automatically handle paging through results, but you may want to control the number of items returned from a single service operation call. You can do so using the page_size() method:

# S3 iterate over all objects 100 at a time
for obj in bucket.objects.page_size(100):

By default, S3 will return 1000 objects at a time, so the above code would let you process the items in smaller batches, which could be beneficial for slow or unreliable internet connections.

Batch actions#

Some collections support batch actions, which are actions that operate on an entire page of results at a time. They will automatically handle pagination:

# S3 delete everything in `my-bucket`
s3 = boto3.resource('s3')


The above example will completely erase all data in the my-bucket bucket! Please be careful with batch actions.